“Don’t take me off the list!” I can’t tell you how many times I hear folks say that.
As a principal in a very active public relations firm, I help plan dozens of parties and events every year for our firm and our clients. Every one of these, of course, has a guest list. When people say, “Don’t take me off the list,” they are usually saying it because they are telling us they can’t be present at a certain event, but want to be invited to the next one. Let me reassure you, you will not be taken off a guest list just because you can’t come to a single event.
But, in case you are interested, I will tell you some of the behaviors we see every time we take RSVPs — and I’ll also tell you what CAN, in fact, get you taken off the list. It revolves around good, old-fashioned business etiquette. (I want to emphasize that I am not speaking on behalf of the clients for whom we manage events. When clients provide a list of people they want to have invited — those people are the ones invited. Period. But I’m speaking in general terms — and for Moxley Carmichael events, the ones we plan for ourselves.) Here goes:
- Please DO call or email in an RSVP. This should go without saying, but folks are getting worse and worse about not responding at all. Here’s why you need to do it. The hosts or sponsors of a party or event are paying a per-person charge for everyone who shows up. These costs range from about $20 per person up to well more than double or triple that amount. The caterers need to know an estimated number of attendees about a week in advance so they can buy the necessary food and other supplies for the event and hire the right number of servers and bartenders. When someone doesn’t RSVP, they will cause the host or the event sponsors to have to guess how many people are going to come. I can tell you from experience that the host generally will over-estimate that number. The caterer or venue will then charge them based on the number they guessed rather than the number who actually attended. So someone who doesn’t RSVP will be costing big money to the person who was kind enough to invite them in the first place. Please RSVP — even if you have to change your plans later. You can always call back and let the host know of the change.
Do NOT give your invitation to someone else. Unless it says otherwise, if the invitation is addressed to you, you are the one who is invited. Do not give it to your assistant or to someone else in your company or to a family member. You are on the list because the event host wanted to spend time with you – not with someone else that you happen to know. Of course, most invitations to evening events say for you to bring a guest. You are certainly welcome to do that. But don’t just pass the invitation along to someone else if you are not planning to attend.
- Don’t take advantage of the host by bringing extra people. We do quite a few events for restaurants. At one such event last year, the invitation said to please come and enjoy free food and beverages prior to the eatery’s official opening. Guests were told they could fill a table for two or a table for four. Several folks called the RSVP line and simply informed the call taker that they were bringing more people. “They can just deal with it,” one person said when the call taker told them the tables were for two or four. That person is off our list, I can assure you!
If you don’t show up or respond to numerous invitations over a long period of time, you most likely will be removed from the invitation list at some point. The planner will assume that it is a waste of time and postage to invite you. But one or two missed events should not cause you to be dropped from the list.
- Reciprocate. This is something most people learn in kindergarten and grade school when they are attending sleep-overs. When Johnny invites you to a sleep-over, you are supposed to invite Johnny to one at your house. It is Etiquette 101. I’ll give you an example. There is an attorney in town who was invited to the first 10 Moxley Carmichael client parties we ever had. He was not a client, but we had many mutual friends and I liked him, so we included him. And he came to our event every year for 10 years! Over those 10 years, he never invited me to a single thing. He never even asked me to coffee to exchange pleasantries. He never to my knowledge suggested to anyone that they hire us, although he used our event every year to network heavily on his own behalf. So, when it came time to draw up the ever-burgeoning list for the 11th year, we dropped him off in order to make room for new clients and folks who actually had been helpful to us. Guess what. I ran into this fellow at the elevator in a downtown building that year after the party invitations had gone out — and he confronted me! “I guess I didn’t make your list this year,” he said sarcastically. For once, I was able to think quickly enough to have a comeback. “I guess I didn’t make your list for 10 years!” I said with a (hopefully) sweet smile. (Then I decided to take the stairs!) The fact is, you can only invite a certain number of people to events. If it’s a business event, you have to make room for clients and folks you are trying to do business with. When it’s time to cut the list, the folks who have never reciprocated likely will have to go in order to make room for those who have. When you are planning — and paying for — your own events, it just makes sense.
So there. That’s just a few suggestions on how to get invited back. I hope to see everyone at many of the fun, fun events that will be happening in Knoxville in 2013. Until then, party on!
AMEN! I could not agree more — glad you wrote this but it’s depressing that It’s true. What ever happened to Manners or Etiquette 101? One comment: looks like the thank you note (even via email) is going the way of the dinosaurs as well.
Good point, Ellen. It is pretty shocking.
So true – every word. It is really difficult to plan a party when you have no idea whether or not your guests are coming. And last minute (late) RSVPs are becoming the norm. Thanks for saying what all hostesses are thinking! Party on . . .
Thanks, Tami. Every now and then I get riled up about something and just have to let it out! That’s where The Blue Streak can be very useful.
Cynthia I hope many people read this. It is plain poor manners not to respond and I just don’t get why people think they can come to a lot of parties but never issue an invitation of their own even for dinner or drinks.
Excellent advise! Thanks for sharing!
Right on, Dawn! You can never be accused of any of these things. You are a perfect hostess and you always reciprocate. So, also a perfect guest! Thanks.
Thanks, Eric. That one’s been simmering for a long time!
Manners 101! I could not agree more.
Right on, sister…..and OBTW that Mayan guy has some really nice “boobs”.
Hahaha, MIckey! Yes, now that you mention it, he does!
This is great!!! Thanks for the post.
I think the same could be said for private events with the understanding that certain parties require a specific guest list (ie: bridal & baby showers). But the percentage of people sending an Rsvp is dramatically declining. I attribute it to a lot of people not realizing that Rsvp means to respond with either attendance or absence…at least that’s what I tell myself in the hopes that people are not intentionally rude.
Thanks, Sharon. One solution to that issue, I guess, is to say, “Please respond whether or not you will be able to attend.” Just actually spell it out. I wonder if that would help.
The RSVP is spot on! Thanks, I am going to share.
As someone who often just plainly says “Let me know whether you will be attending,” with no better result, I don’t think misunderstanding what RSVP means is the issue.
Now I’m wondering who the lawyer is. Hmmmm.
Gay: Just trying to give the benefit of the doubt. You are probably right. Diana: Ha! Someone you know, I think.
Cynthia, great post and reminder! Again I apologize for the invitation I failed to RSVP to while I was traveling over the holidays. I agree that invitations should be answered and reciprocated.
Kristin: You are so funny! The post certainly wasn’t directed at you. You are a good guest — and hostess!
Girl it was just a good reminder for me! I suffer from classic Catholic guilt. 🙂
Funny. So do I!
Glad you wrote this. In the nearly two years I was in El Paso in the mid-’90s, it was extremely frustrating to plan a party for the Herald-Post. People did NOT RSVP, or if they did, it was at the last minute. I won’t go into the details but one time I rsvped for a friend’s pot-luck supper in West Hills. I was driving there on a late Friday afternoon and the traffic on I-40 west was terrible. I almost got off and went home. But I kept going. I got to the friends’ house, and I was the only guest. They had counted on me and fixed a wonderful dinner for three. What if I had not gone? I really learned a lesson. Unless an emergency comes up, if I RSVP, I will be there.
Oh, wow, Georgiana! What a cautionary tale that is! Thanks for sharing. Whew!
So glad YOU said it Mox! But it is excellent advice…too many times I see clients order food for too many people based upon their RSVP list…help us all be properly prepared!
Mary, as general manager of the Convention Center, I can’t begin to IMAGINE what etiquette atrocities you must see on a regular basis!
Thank You so much. You are a great event planner and hostess. Thank you for the RSVP 101 to all. We have had events before and do not get responses from a lot of folks. I love to do events, but always like to know how many will attend. Happy New Year to you and your wonderful staff!!!!
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