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It’s exciting to be invited to a party any time during the year, but the rate of invites seems to increase come the holiday season. According to party planning resource Punchbowl, holiday party invitations reach their peak in mid- to late-November, but continue to be sent through December. The first Monday in December is the day when the most online holiday party invitations are sent.
Hosting a party involves a lot of coordination. Party hosts rely on an accurate headcount in order to plan accordingly. This is only achieved if invitations reach their intended recipients, and invited guests respond in a timely manner.
Anyone who has ever hosted a party understands the feeling of having to wait for everyone to RSVP. And in an era of immediate digital gratification, party host patience may be lacking. Failure to RSVP is a failure of party etiquette, and hosts may feel as though their efforts are not appreciated if guests fail to RSVP on time.
To avoid a manners mishap – and even worse, miss the party altogether – practice this RSVP etiquette for each and every event.
Avoid laziness. RSVP is an abbreviation for the French phrase “respondez s’il vous plait.” This means to “please respond.” Until roughly 50 years ago, RSVP was not commonly included on invitations because it was implied that guests would do the right thing and respond of their own accord to the hospitality extended. Everyone is guilty from time to time of getting a little forgetful. But when hosts are counting on your response to plan their events, it pays to make responding a priority, and doing so within 24 hours is best.
Recognize the RSVP’s importance to the host. Put yourself in the place of the host. He or she is counting on receiving responses to invitations. Failure to respond in a timely manner adds additional work to the party host. This person has to track you down. Or he or she may misinterpret a lack of response as lack of interest.
Regrets only? Only if the invitation states that. Some people think they don’t have to respond unless they’re not coming to the party. The fact is, unless the invitation specifically says to RSVP for “regrets only,” assume that you have to respond one way or another.
Rescinding your response. It is improper etiquette to agree to attend a party only to cancel at the last minute if a better invitation comes along. Unless it is an emergency situation or someone is sick, canceling an RSVP without a good reason is rude.
Etiquette for hosts. Send invites out several weeks in advance so people can check their schedules. As the date approaches, it is fine to reach out to guests who didn’t RSVP. Be polite and ask nicely if that person will be able to join you.