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RSVP – It’s Rude Not To!

With the Christmas season quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this article in time for all the seasonal invitations that are certain to be coming your way!

My husband and I host many social events throughout the year, and we are lucky to be invited to many events hosted by others in our social circle.  All of the invitations we send out come with the traditional request for the invitees to RSVP.  The issue of RSVP’ing seems to be severely misunderstood in Canadian society.  What does it mean to RSVP?  Technically this initialism stands for:  Repondre s’il vous plait – which basically means:  Respond if you are attending and/or respond if you are not attending.  In other words – RESPOND ALREADY!

Knowing how many people are coming to an event allows a Host to gauge the amount of food, drink, chairs and other supplies needed.  Believe me, there is NO JOY in trying to find another chair, borrowing extra plates from the neighbour, or figuring out how to make chicken parmesan for 8 people magically turn into chicken parmesan for 12 – at the last minute.  It is stressful and frustrating.

Here are the responsibilities of both the Host and the Invitee regarding the issue of RSVPing.

RSVP responsibilities of a HOST:

– Clearly state on an invitation that you want invitees to RSVP.

– Give a deadline for the RSVP.  If you wait until the “day of” for the RSVP, you might find yourself running around trying to gather additional supplies when you need to be doing other things such as getting dressed, cooking, getting organized.

– Honour your RSVP deadline as you wish others to honour it.  If you don’t honour your own deadline you will almost certainly feel taken advantage of.  Have you ever felt snippy or angry at an event you were hosting – and wondered why you were in such a bad mood?  It’s probably because you felt taken advantage of in some way by not honouring yourself.

RSVP responsibilities of the Invitee:

– Read the invitation carefully.  Plan your route.  If you are asked to RSVP, do so by the date indicated.

– Respond in the way requested.  If the invitation says to RSVP by phone, do it by phone.  If it says to RSVP by email, do it by email.

– Don’t ask someone else to RSVP on your behalf.

– Don’t assume you can bring a plus one.  If in doubt, ask the Host well ahead of the RSVP deadline.  Don’t call the Host at the last minute asking if you can bring someone with you.  This puts your Host on the spot and causes unnecessary stress.   Even if the Host says it is not a problem, I can assure you that it IS a problem and the Host is annoyed with you.

– If an event features a meal or other time-specific event, be respectful and appreciative and show up on time.  Showing up late is simply rude.

– Attend.  If you are not in a coma, you should honour the RSVP.

For many years, my partner and I emailed an invitation to our annual Christmas Dinner to his single friend, Bob.  Each year the invitation clearly requested that Bob RSVP by December 18th. Bob never RSVP’d and he never showed up.  Each year I worried that he hadn’t actually received the invitation – thinking perhaps it ended up in his spam folder.  We checked in with him each year after the December 18th deadline just to make sure the invitation had been received.  And each time he told us, “Oh yeah, I received it.  I just didn’t get around to responding.”

Eventually we became smarter and we stopped inviting Bob. We made an agreement that if Bob called after the RSVP deadline to ask if he could still come, we would have to say, “Sorry, it is too late.  We already have a full table.”

I know many of my readers will think this is harsh, perhaps even cruel – especially at Christmas. However, to me, Bob’s lack of a response meant he either had a better offer (or expected that such an offer would come) or that he did not consider our invitation worthy of a response.

Why would anyone be expected to continue to offer an invitation under these circumstances – at Christmas – or any time of the year?

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