The Art & Science of RSVPing

As I write I am watching and listening to the gentle waves in the Sea of Cortez in gorgeous San Jose del Cabo. It is LeAnneuary and the celebrations for my 50th year on the planet continue.  With luck, I will have much more to share with you soon about this trip. So far all I can say is that the food is mediocre, the hotel and staff fabulous and the weather is perfect.  And so…

I rarely write about my JOB because I know you really like reading about food, recipes and events, but I feel with the New Year there is a need for everyone to make a resolution to RSVP. For whatever reason people these days feel it is unnecessary. Do you think you are special? Do you think the host, event planner or event coordinator can read your mind? Do you think because the invite was sent digitally you have no real requirement to respond?  Yeah…um…ok- NO! YOU ALWAYS should RSVP. Here are some REAL scenarios for you to consider:

  • We attended a wedding in San Antonio several years ago and noticed that there were two complete tables of 10 (20 people total) that were empty. I thought to myself, “The house over set the room.” Then I went outside to have a cigarette (don’t judge) and saw more than 20 place cards that had not been picked up by “attendees”. These people RSVPed and didn’t show. Bad form! The Bride and Groom paid for those no-shows – more than $1000. How would you feel if you were the newlyweds?
  • I helped organize a retirement party for a military friend. It was a tight room (i.e. filled to capacity). A couple walked in that were NOT on the RSVP list and expected to be seated. There was absolutely no where to put them. How would you feel if you were me, the “guests”, restaurant staff or the host?
  • And then there is THIS – gone a trifle too far if you ask me.

Invited Guests, here is the low down, fast, hard and dirty – If you are invited to anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, regardless of how you get the invite (FB, Email, printed engraved invitation delivered by a courier pigeon) you RSVP. One way or the other. Your host enjoys your company enough that your presence is desired. If you can’t make it, send your polite regrets. If you can make it, show up with a smile on your face and enjoy the festivities. If you RSVP that you are attending and for some reason at the last minute can’t make it, a brief polite communique with the host is in order (emergencies – and by emergency I mean death, dismemberment, contagious illness – are of course exempt, and a quick call to the host following the event is always appreciated). Remember your host has planned for food, drinks and potentially entertainment for you. If you are one of the lovely people who ALWAYS RSVPs and shows up when invited and for some reason you don’t make it, your host may in fact be worried about you for out of character behavior.

The act of taking 3 minutes to RSVP is a GIFT to your host. Consider the host or event planner organizing a party for 100 and only 50 RSVP, should the host GUESS whether you are attending if you don’t RSVP? Should they count on your charming presence and pay for you to  be a no-show? Should they NOT count on you and have you show up with no place to be seated or run out of food/drinks?

Gracious Hosts – the sad fact is that you are in an untenable position. I am sure you have friends who say, “You know I am coming, do I need to RSVP?” And I am sure there are a few in every crowd, but don’t count on anyone. For 16 years I worked in direct sales doing home cooking demos teaching recipes and selling cookware, and for each and every event I had to encourage the host of the show to call and remind each guest (up to 40 people) about the date and time because people forget they RSVPed or the simply didn’t think they had to do so.

Here is my Moment of Truth – I have a Three Strikes Policy. If you are invited and respond NO three times, respond YES three times and not show or simply NOT RSVP at all, you are not invited back (yes, there are noted exceptions).

And one final thought – if you are invited to someone’s home for an event, don’t show up empty handed unless “NO GIFTS PLEASE” is on the invitation. Wine, flowers, quirky coasters, chocolates, anything you think the host will enjoy is ALWAYS appreciated by the host. Exceptions? Your best friend’s home where you are as likely to be as your own home.