Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No One Speaks French Anymore


(Note: That's my subtle cue that I have a slight rant coming - beware)

Mister Man's birthday party is this coming Sunday. Invitations went home in backpacks to both first grade classrooms almost three weeks ago. The invitations included an RSVP request with email and phone numbers for both me and the co-host (he's doing his party with Violet, thus both classes are invited so all their friends can be there). The RSVPs were clearly marked that they were due by this past Monday.

As of this morning - when I have to call to give the final number of guests - thirteen of the thirty-four invited guests had yet to respond. That's almost forty percent of people who couldn't be bothered to let us know whether or not they were able to attend the party.

I sent out an email to all of them - and I'll call the stragglers tonight - this morning with "please respond" in the title of the email. Interestingly, I've since had five people respond since that email went out. My assumption was that those who didn't respond weren't able to attend and therefore hadn't responded. Actually, no. Two of the five are coming and had just "forgotten" to RSVP.

I had a conversation this morning with a friend about this, and her theory is that people simply don't know what RSVP means anymore. (It's French. Respondez s'il vous plait - answer, if you please.) RSVP regrets only means you only need to let the host know if you aren't coming. RSVP means tell the host of your plans regardless. I'm not so sure I fully buy her theory though.

Let me give you a different example:

I recently hosted a fortieth birthday party for my husband. It was a surprise party, and I was hosting it at a sports bar where I was providing food and open bar. I sent the invitation via evite since it was the easiest way to get contact information for his friends. By the date I'd requested a response, way less than half the group had responded. I sent out an email explaining that I needed final numbers to provide for food purposes, as I couldn't easily change them after that day. I was very clear on that point.

The responses poured in, but I still was missing about a dozen. I mentally wrote those people off. I now had the opposite problem. Knowing my husband and his friends, the room I had his surprise party in seated fifteen. Ninteen people responded that they were coming. I spent the next four days worried about how we were going to fit all those people in the room.

Apparently I had other things to worry about. Of the ninteen people, nine showed up. That nine includes my husband and me. Of the ten who simply didn't show, two called me to tell me that they couldn't make it and apologized. Both were friends of mine, as well. The others? They just ... flaked. And so we were left with a ton - almost literally - of uneaten food and a bill far larger than I'd needed. I was not a happy camper.

This isn't simply an RSVP problem anymore. It's an all around manners and etiquette issue. Is this to say that I've never forgotten to respond to an invitation or misplaced one? Absolutely not. I certainly don't do it on a regular basis, however - and never when I've been prompted.

The next time I have a party, I'm going to skip RSVP. Just in case. The next time, I'll stick with "I need to know if you're coming or not - call me." Do you think that will be clear enough?

Current Giveaways:
Family 4 pack of tickets to Ringling Brothers in Chicago at the UC November 17 here
Family Taco Night prize pack here


Pat November 3, 2010 at 5:04 PM  

Technically, that should be clear enough, but, unfortunately, people will probably ignore that, too. Maybe people are just too busy all the time. But I'm with you--It is rude of people not to let you know whether or not they are coming. That is so outrageous that ten people who said they'd come to the surprise party flaked and/or had something else come up at the last minute. Arrgghh--I'd be livid.

Could you freeze and save any of the food?

septembermom November 4, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

I'm such a big RSVP person. I do it as soon as I get the invitation. It does drive me crazy when people are too relaxed about letting you know one way or the other. That's a shame about all that left over food and all that work that you did. Wish I lived next door, all of my boys would've eaten your delicious food in a minute!!!

Karen November 4, 2010 at 7:46 PM  

I completely agree that it's a lack of manners, and I am just as peeved as you are over it.

Although I'm very interested to see if there are different results with "I need to know..." because while I know everyone knows what RSVP means, maybe they just don't think. It's too polite, maybe?

Michelle November 6, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

Pat - Should and "are" - definitely two different things these days. The food sat out for four hours. Most of it went bad. We did try to salvage some of it, but ... not enough to appease me!

Kelly - Hmmm you've mentoned this living next door to me thing more than once. I'd be totally cool with that... especially if you RSVP ;)

Karen - With the "I need to know" email, I received responses as of today (party is tomorrow) from 11 of the 13 people. Four are coming. Only three of the responses came within the period I designated. I'm using new language next time.

Tara R. November 7, 2010 at 7:16 AM  

I do think a lot of people simply don't know what RSVP implies. Maybe a more direct approach is needed, and a bouncer at the door to keep out people who failed to respond and showed up anyway. Now, if you could send bills to the people who flaked on your party, that would be epic.

Lucy November 7, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

Oh man, this drives me CRAZY! It's such a simple thing, yet no one does it. I get especially annoyed when I send out an Evite & people don't RSVP. You don't have to send me a separate email or call me. You just have to click your mouse, for God's sake.

P.S. I love the bouncer idea in the comment above. Maybe if we hosts started turning away the folks who failed to RSVP they'd get the hint. Although WE'D end up being the ones everyone thought was rude.

Coby November 7, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

Visiting from Mrs. 4444. Seriously? How hard is it to let a host know whether or not you're coming? This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It's just plain selfish. I like your idea. I say go with it, and turn away the folks who didn't RSVP.

Mrs4444 November 7, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

Not to give you a hard time, young lady, but you did RSVP yes to our Halloween party....

As it was, we had 30 people rsvp yes and almost 60 attend. I'm used to it now. :)

I like your idea about point-blank asking people to tell you if they're coming or not.

Shari November 7, 2010 at 6:45 PM  

People don't RSVP. One person said to me, "It's not my thing." It was the last time I invited her. It's increadibly rude.

Michelle November 8, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

Tara - Yeah, I have a feeling that I would suddenly become the unreasonable one at that point. But it goes back to conversations I have with my husband about handling abusive parents at sporting events. First game, no tolerance, and I bet you won't have issues going forward....

Lucy - I find I actually get a far worse response via evite than standard invites, too. Because it's too casual and doesn't matter? Who knows....

Coby - I'm tempted to turn them away next time "Oh I'm so sorry, I had no idea you'd be coming. We don't have room for you" - except that it would impact Mister Man, and I would never do that to him.

Mrs4444 - Touche! But I did also let you know that I couldn't come as I was too tired to drive that far safely. And I still feel badly. And I've apologized repeatedly. Sorry! :)

Shari - Not her thing? Wow, I'd have a hard time keepming my mouth shut if someone said that to me! Yikes!

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