I saw a story on Facebook today about a mother who planned a party for her six year old son. You can click here to read the full story, but essentially she invited her son’s entire class, sixteen children, and no one came. When she posted what she described as a “rant” on Facebook about her son’s profound disappointment, the response was amazing.
I simply cannot imagine the heartbreak of throwing a party for a child and having no one show up. After reading this I feel my own rant coming on regarding the etiquette associated with receiving an invitation.
I believe, if someone has been kind enough to invite you to a party, the polite response is to thank the host for the invitation and to let them know whether or not you will attend.
I believe this applies in most cases, regardless of whether the host asks for an RSVP or not.
Just for the record, RSVP is an acronym for the French phrase “répondez, s’il vous plait” which essentially means, please respond. Somehow, I think there is a misconception that RSVP only means to tell your host if you plan to attend and that silence means you won’t be there. It doesn’t. Please respond one way or the other.
The only time when silence is an acceptable response to an invitation is when the invitation states: “RSVP-regrets only” or “Regrets Only.” In this case your host is assuming that you will attend unless you say otherwise.
Personally, I would be uncomfortable sending out this kind of invitation. I can see it now. I invite ten friends over to celebrate St. Swithun’s day. No one calls with “regrets” so I bake a cake and put a standing rib roast in the oven, set the table with the “good china” and get my husband to change out of his paint stained work clothes. Then dinner time comes and goes, no one shows up and I am stuck with a huge roast beef and cake for twelve. Wait, I love cake. Maybe that was a bad example, but you get my point. I am a firm believer that only saying “yes” means “yes” in all situations.
Finally, once you have responded (or not responded to a “regrets only” invitation), follow through. If your host is expecting you, be there. If something absolutely unexpected and unavoidable arises on the day of the party, let your host know. Just deciding you don’t feel like going to a party and not showing up is, in my opinion, exceedingly rude and potentially hurtful behavior.
In fairness, in this case it is possible that all sixteen parents politely declined the invitation. That still would have been a heart-breaking situation for a mother, but forewarned is forearmed. She might have been able to prepare her child in some way to minimize the disappointment, or to plan something else.
Failing to respond, or accepting the invitation but not attending the party is simply inexcusable.