How to RSVP…Being invited to a party is a certain form of kindness. It signifies inclusion, the shaping of friendship. It’s one of the tools in the toolbox of community building. But it’s just the first step. Because simply being invited doesn’t actually build anything. For the invitee to attend, that’s where the beauty lies. The actual getting together to celebrate something, share food and drink, or casual conversation, that’s the part where the connections are made and developed.
And since community is something we all long for, especially us mamas, why has it become so hard for us to, at the very least, respond to the person who has invited us?
We are all guilty of it. In this day and age of modern technology, especially social media, you’d think it would be easy peasy for all of us to just give a simple response. But this is definitely not the case. Many of us operate like we don’t really know what RSVP means or how to do it.
A couple of months ago my husband and I planned a small party for our son’s second birthday. We handed out invitations, texted some friends, and called or texted family members. A solid 60% of the people did not respond. Since my kids are little, I’m pretty new to this kid birthday party planning thing, so I asked around with other moms. Is this weird? Should we have done something differently? I was surprised to hear this is totally normal.
I did a little more research and found many articles encouraging parents to use “carrots” to get people to respond.
Let them know that there will be a personalized party favor with their child’s name, and then add that detail to the list of things you must do for the party. Offer a prize to the first number of kids who respond. Is this really what we’re doing now? I need to give you a prize for telling me whether or not your kid can make it to my kid’s party? Will there soon need to be door prizes for guests who show up within an hour of the start time?
The truth is, I can be just as bad. Technology actually hinders us in a lot of ways. If I get a text while wrangling my kids at dinner, I may glance at it, make a mental note, and then completely forget to look back at it later when I have a few kid-free minutes. There may already be plans in the works for that particular date, but nothing is solid, making it super hard to give an answer. Still, this doesn’t excuse completely ignoring someone, does it?
Here are a few steps on how to RSVP that I’m implementing as I aim to be more responsible about responding to invitations.
#1 – Keep a complete Home Calendar in one, easy to access location and update it regularly.
As moms, we are likely juggling everyone’s schedule. The challenge in my home is that my husband’s calendar is through his office on outlook. Getting him to give me key details that need to be added to the family calendar requires effort, but if we make the effort it’s so much easier to know what’s coming and to plan around it.
#2 – When you receive an invitation, no matter how formal or casual, check against your Home Calendar immediately.
If you cannot because, for example, the invite casually happened in an aisle at the grocery store, then text yourself a reminder to check later. I actually text myself all the time and try to check those texts at the end of the day. If you’re better than I am about checking your phone’s notes, then that might work for you. Texting works better for me.
#3A – Once you check against your Home Calendar, if you can give an answer, then give an answer immediately.
Respond in the way that the invitation has requested, by text, email, phone call, or by checking a box.
#3B – Once you check against your Home Calendar, if you still cannot give an answer, check in with the person to let them know you don’t have an answer yet, but that you’re working on it and let them know when you expect to have an answer.
If they didn’t specify an “RSVP By” date, you can also ask them by what date they need to know. If it’s a social media invite, you might just click the “maybe” option, but be careful not to leave it at that.
#4 – If the event is a yes or a maybe, write it on your Home Calendar and text a note to the other adult in your household for them to mark their calendar.
I cannot always assume my husband checks our Home Calendar, so this keeps us from double booking.
#5 – If it’s still a maybe, note on your calendar the date you need to respond by. If that date comes, and you still do not have an answer, politely decline.
Unless the person makes it abundantly clear that you are welcome to just show up or miss and there will be no love lost.
Providing an RSVP isn’t about some old-fashioned, out-dated book of manners. There are so many reasons party organizers need to know who can and cannot attend. No mama wants to plan a party only to have no friends show up for her sweet child. It’s sad for everyone. Also, no parents want to rent a venue that requires them to pay per attendee only to have a dozen kids show up that were not expected.
How awesome it would be if we all made a little more effort to communicate as we continue to build our little circles of community and friendships by celebrating things that matter to each other.
Do you have recommendations on how to RSVP and remember to do it?