You are Invited!!!
There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP. Follow the 5 steps below and the hostess will be singing your praises!
1. First, determine if you want to attend. This sounds strange to some, but I often have people tell me, “But I don’t really want to go.” My answer: Then do not go. Maybe you know you have a busy week leading up to the party and your plan is to live in your pajamas all weekend. Or, maybe the party being offered is not of interest to you. That is fine. In most situations, you are not obligated to attend, and you do not owe an explanation. Whatever you decide, though, just decide. Accept or decline and move on.
2. Once you have decided if you will or will not attend, the next step is to check the invitation to see if a response is required. Most hostesses will ask for an RSVP (which is an abbreviated French phrase that means “please reply”). If you see those letters written, or some other form of request made that you reply, then guess what? You reply.
The biggest headache most hostesses encounter is the lack of guest responses. If a friend sent you a text asking you to meet her for lunch, would you ignore her? Or, would you quickly send a text back with a yes or no? The same holds true when responding to an invitation. When a guest does not respond, the hostess is left wondering how much food to purchase and prepare, how many chairs to place at the dinner table, if anyone will even be attending her party. The hostess has extended a kind invitation, and it causes stress and difficulty when guests do not respond. So, respond!
3. Even if the RSVP has a deadline for the reply the rule of thumb is to respond within 24-48 hours of receipt of the invitation. Within 24-48 hours?!? Yes, within 24-48 hours. I understand we live busy lives that can require a few days to shuffle things around, but if you cannot respond within the first 2 days, then let the hostess know you have received her invitation and you are re-arranging your schedule so you can attend. Tell her you will give her an answer by a certain date. This lets her know you want to be at her party. She will proceed as though you are attending, which helps her in early preparations. If you receive an invitation and know you cannot attend, then there is no reason to delay your response. Reply right away. Sometimes a hostess only has room for a certain number of people in her home, and if you quickly decline the invitation, she might have the opportunity to invite other guests. Bottom line do not leave her hanging. Respond quickly.
4. Respond to the invitation in the way in which the hostess has requested. If she lists her phone number, then respond by calling. If she lists her email, then email your response. If she does not specify, then respond however you wish (phone, email, hand-written note). When I am hosting a party, my personal preference is to only list email. I do not wish to receive a lot of phone calls, so I do not give that as an option. Know your audience, though. If some of your guests are older and not as computer savvy, then provide a phone number along with an email.
If you run into your party hostess when you are out and about, it is fine to tell her you are attending (or not attending), but still respond to the invitation in the manner she requested. If I run into an invited guest at the grocery store, and she tells me that her family will be attending my party, my “too full” brain does not remember this by the time I get to my car. “Did she say yes, or no? Did she say only she and her husband will be attending or are they bringing the entire family?” Tell her you are excited to attend her gathering, but that you will reply to the invitation officially when you get home. This way she does not have to worry about remembering what you said. One last point. If the party is being given in someone’s honor you still need to respond to the hostess. Letting the bride know is nice, but it is not her job to then tell the hostess who is and is not attending. Plus, she may not remember to pass along your response. When I respond to a party in someone’s honor, I will email the hostess and copy the honoree. In summary, send your response in the manner listed on the invitation. The hostess has stated her request for a reason.
5. “I want to attend, but what if something else comes up?” I hear this quite often. The answer: rarely should your response change. If you want to attend the party, and your calendar is clear, then respond in the affirmative. If a “big” something comes up that you must attend (your best friend is having an engagement party and you are the maid of honor or you must attend a funeral), it is fine to call the hostess and let her know that you regrettably must change your reply. I would let her know why so she does not think you decided to bail. However, changing your reply because you received a bigger, better deal, or simply because you do not “feel” like going on the day of the party, is not cool. The hostess has gone to a lot of trouble to give the gift of a wonderful evening. Not only that, you may have been invited for a certain reason. Maybe she needs your personality to balance out the other guests at the dinner party. If you bail on her, it leaves her in a tight spot. Remember, to have good friends, you must be a good friend. Do your part, even when you might not feel like it.
To genuinely appreciate life, we must be present. There are two words my husband and I live by: be intentional and be present. Two things will happen if you continually turn down invitations. First, you will eventually be excluded. Hostesses do not continue to invite people that repeatedly turn them down. Eventually, the hostess will assume you are not interested in forging a deeper relationship, so there will come a time she will exclude you from future parties.
Secondly, and more importantly, when we constantly decline invitations, we miss out on being present in life. When we attend parties, even when we do not know the other guests, we expand our minds and learn more about the different worlds around us. We also expand our networking base, which ultimately expands our sphere of influence. Do you wish you had more influence in the world? This can only happen if you increase the size of territory around you. The way to expand our horizon is through interaction with others and continual education, and the best way to accomplish this is to be present. Do not sit life out on the sidelines. Accept the invitation!
Together with you,