In this author's humble opinion, it seems we could all use a refresher course with Mrs. Post. While the days of Finishing School are long gone, the need for etiquette is not. Our world is such a fast paced one that we all tend to forget (and hope to be forgiven) our manners and one must wonder what Mrs. Post would have to say about our society. It seems recently in the news that manners are coming into focus more and I hope that all of us will open our minds and our hearts to the social graces. Emily Post once said, "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use." It's the sensitive awareness that I believe we need to work on.
Invitations may come in all forms. A formal invitation is one that is on fine paper and fills one with excitement to open the envelope. They may be a handwritten invitation but most people print them these days. Informal invitations are just as fun to receive and there are so many choices for themed parties these days. An electronic invitation is available for those last minute get togethers. No matter the form, an invitation should be received with the same good intentions of kindness as those that were offered from the invitee. While no one is obligated to accept an invitation, there are rules of etiquette to be followed.
· One must reply if there is a RSVP or Regrets request - more on that later
· If you do not want to attend, your reply should be "I'm afraid we already have plans but thank you for inviting us." - Do not say you will be out of town and then attend another event for the same date
· If you accept, then you must attend. The only acceptable reasons for a change in acceptance are illness, death in the family or an unexpected, sudden out of town trip.
What does RSVP really mean anyway? Maybe the reason so few actually RSVP anymore is that they simply do not know what it means. RSVP is an acronym for répondez s'il vou plait. It is a French term that means respond, please. RSVP means you MUST reply either yes, we will attend or no, we will not attend. Regrets only, means that you only have to reply if you will not attend, it is assumed that no reply means you will be there. It is RUDE not to RSVP when requested or not to show up if you did not reply to a regrets only request. It is a fairly simple system to follow.
· RSVP in the manner indicated on the invitation (by phone, reply card, email, etc.)
· RSVP in a timely manner (within a couple of days)
· Regrets only means just that - don't call or send an acceptance unless you need to speak with the hostess
· If you say you will be there - BE THERE
· If you say you won't - DON'T show up at another party you think is a better offer when you're supposedly sick or out of town unless you don't want to be on anyone's guest list
· DO NOT ask to bring someone else who is not invited
· REMEMBER: "It is inexcusably rude to leave someone who has invited you to a party with no idea of how many people to expect." Emily Post
No RSVP - Gameplan
If you are the host and your invited guests have not responded to your RSVP and you need a count for your event, CALL them. I know it may be a little uncomfortable, but CALL them. Just say "Hey, Susie Q, I just wanted to make sure you received my invitation to XYZ party. I just need to turn in a count to the caterer and need to know if you and Johnny will be attending." More than likely, Susie Q either got busy and forgot to reply, or procrastinated and then felt guilty about calling. Either way, there is no harm and no foul by addressing the issue. You get your count and Susie Q may think twice the next time she gets an invitation and will RSVP for her next host.
Every guest should thank their hosts twice. Let's face it, parties are expensive and a lot of trouble even for the most experienced party planner. Be kind and respect that. Thank your host at the event. A hostess gift is a nice gesture but not required. Call or send a note the next day to thank your host again. It is just common courtesy folks, not rocket science.
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