Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Invitation Etiquette

I had to calm down before I could attempt to type this post...

Last night, I was furious!  Those who have been reading this blog for a fair while will know how I feel about invitations and people who don't RSVP!  Here's a quick recap:

Get On Your Soapbox #2
Diary of a Wedding Planning Machine: RSVPs

Duncan and I have been organising a joint baby shower for Saturday in Perth.  Since we're BOTH becoming parents, and I'm not really a fan of women-only baby showers where the mum-to-be is 'showered' with negative stories from other mums, we decided we wanted to celebrate our impending parenthood together.  Harvest is only weeks away so we have to have it now, and it had to be relatively easy to organise.  We decided on a casual afternoon tea in a park with men, women and kids.

But since I'm feeling kind of tired and overwhelmed (and work has been crazy with other events to organise), I wanted to keep the numbers down.  Duncan has a large extended family, but as he went through the list, he was pretty ruthless with deciding who he wanted to invite from his side.  This wasn't because we don't like people, but some we hardly keep in contact with.

So, as you can imagine, we were both pretty disappointed last night that a heap of people haven't responded at all!  I've been baking cakes and muffins for the past few weeks and freezing them in advance.  I went to Albany and did a big shop for cool drink, napkins, a few decorations, chips etc.  While it is still going to be a fairly low-fuss affair, that doesn't mean no effort has been required on our (particularly my) behalf.

I am in no way having a go at people who have let us know they can't make it.  That's fine.  They bothered to let us know.  They have other commitments which they planned before and are honouring.  The people I do want to let rip at are the 'mute' types - the ones who you never hear from and you never know if they are going to turn up randomly on the day.  And laziness, disorganisation, and waiting for a better offer to come along is just rude.  (This seems to fit with Karen's post on how people only seem to do things when they 'feel like it'.)

If someone goes to the trouble to invite you to a personal event like a birthday party or wedding, it is the height of bad manners to not reply to the invitation when you've been asked to do so.  The following quote from this site sums it up perfectly:
For hosts who are planning a dinner party, a wedding or a reception, this is important from a practical point of view, because they need to know how many people to count on and how much food and drink to buy. More important, though, is the simple courtesy of responding to someone who was nice enough to invite you, even if it is to say that you regret that you will not be able to attend.

I've had a gutful of it!  Not only do I have to put up with this sort of crap with personal events (I'm seriously wondering whether to bother having a 30th birthday party next year), I have to put up with it at work as well!  We organise events a couple of months in advance and get people who've known the date etc for two months ringing up the day before wanting to know if they can just rock up on the day with 10 friends.  Ummm....NO!

The worst thing is that if you confront people about it, they think YOU'RE the bad guy.  It doesn't matter how gentle or tactful you are - people just give you this crazed look like, Why would I bother to RSVP?  Then they get in a huff and don't talk to you.

Different methods of contacting people don't seem to be working either.  This time I tried posting invitations as I thought, well everyone checks their mail, don't they?  Facebook doesn't work because some people don't check it.  Email doesn't work because some people don't check it.  Telling them personally doesn't work because they forget.  Text messages just get ignored.  Argh!

I'm thinking of blacklisting people as there seem to be a few repeat offenders when it comes to birthday parties etc.  I never hear from them, they never turn up, or they whinge that some person they don't like is going to be there so they're not coming.  I'm over it!

Here's my invitation etiquette:

1. Thou shalt reply to the invitation on time
Seriously, what is some people's problem?  They don't have to work out babysitting, work rosters etc.  They're not ill or due to have a baby.  They just can't be bothered...or want to keep their options open.  The question is simple.  Are you free?  Yes or no?  Then reply and don't delay.  Duncan and I received two invitations in the post last week (a rarity out here).  We looked at them and unfortunately we can't attend either of them.  We rang and texted to regretfully let the hosts know.  Done.  It's not hard.

2. Thou shalt realise it's not all about you
What some people organise for their special occasions does not resonate with me.  I would not have chosen that particular theme/day/time/venue.  Sometimes it's just Duncan and I going and we don't know anyone else except the host.  Sometimes there is someone I don't really get on with there and it is awkward.  Sadly it's no longer about making the effort to celebrate with a friend on their special's about whether the guest thinks they will enjoy the show or not or whether they can be bothered driving there.  If I go to someone else's event, it's not about me.  It's about my friend.  I'm there to help them celebrate.  I'm the one who has to suck it up and deal with it.

3. Thou shalt bring ONLY who is mentioned on the invitation
When I write names on invitations, I make it pretty clear who is invited and who isn't.  For our baby shower, we are inviting kids as well, so I made sure all partners' and kids' names were included on the invitation.  But that doesn't stop people wanting to bring randoms we don't know.  If someone has a new partner I don't know about, that's fine.  Invite them along.  If someone really doesn't know anyone, yes, they can bring a friend.  That's fine.  But when I get people, who DO know others at the party, wanting to bring their housemate who is going to be bored at home alone, or their friend from the gym, it's just not on.  Especially as that person will get bored and my friend will end up leaving early because of them.

4. Thou shalt not rub people's noses in it
One thing I really can't stand is when people hand out invitations publicly (like at church), and people who aren't invited feel like crap.  Even if you didn't really expect to be invited, it's still rude.  Or when people create public events on Facebook for their birthday and everyone talks about it on walls etc, knowing that other people can read it.  That's why I mail, email or create private events on Facebook.

If someone has invited you,
You know what you should do,
A reply is what you should send,
Or else you may lose a friend.

The invitation is just for you,
Not your neighbour and their dog, too.
If the party does not resonate,
Suck it up and celebrate.

What do you think is good invitation etiquette?


Iris Flavia said...

Seesh! I don´t need to be asked to answer an invitation, I always do, positive or negative! I do what I expect from others..
I mean... I do expect this.
How else would planning go for the host?!
And if you don´t like one of the other guests, avoid them, it´s that simple, we aren´t in kindergarten anymore.
And really... I´d never ever had the idea of bringing someone not invited just like that - people do that?!
People don´t answer and turn up????
How about changing the location and telling only those who gave a confirmation?

Oh, Sarah, I wish the two of you a great shower! Love the idea, too, of both of you having it :-)

Karen said...

I feel your pain. We are waiting on RSVPs for a party we are organising here too. We've had some people get back to us really promptly...but others, yeah, you do wonder whether they're just keeping options open in case a better offer comes up. This time I've gone the facebook private event route (in the past we've handed out invites, but I just couldn't be bothered this time when facebook is so much quicker!)

Hope you have a lovely day for the baby shower anyway, and you'll know those who are there really do care :)

Sarah said...

Thanks ladies. I hope people start responding to your invitation soon, Karen! It seems to be a problem everywhere. One only has to organise a reasonable sized event to find out how annoying it is. I hate overcatering and food going to waste, yet I also hate it when all these people rock up unannounced and eat the food I bought for the people who RSVPd.

Thanks to a rather pointed Facebook status from my husband, the RSVPs started to come in. It seems some people had a guilty conscience. That's one situation where I say yay for passive agressive Facebook statuses (there was no way we were going to chase up all those people). Funny how people have heaps of time to muck around on Facebook, yet not enough time to RSVP.