Friday, November 20, 2009

RSVP grumpiness

While we're on the subject of birthday parties (it's birthday party season in my household), let's talk about the etiquette of RSVPs.

My six year old is having a birthday party this weekend. Written invitations were mailed four weeks ago with a clearly marked RSVP date (one week prior to the party) and two options for RSVP (mobile phone or email).

Three days out from the party and four children were unaccounted for. So, I followed up with their parents. One is going away that weekend, another is coming to the party, the third has been off school ill and will let me know closer to the date (fair enough - although the party is tomorrow and I haven't heard so far), and the fourth I still haven't heard back from.

Then this morning a child who was one of the first to RSVP in the affirmative said to me at school drop off that she was sorry she can't come to the party as she is going to a friend's school fair. As her mother had RSVP'd so quickly and so definitely, this confused me and when I happened to see the mother in the school carpark on my way out, I asked her about her child telling me she's not coming (although I didn't mention the school fair bit).

"Ah, yes," she said. "She's been sick, so I'm just waiting to see if she's well enough to come to the party. I'll SMS you first thing tomorrow morning. She really wants to come if she can."

Okay then.

Call me old-fashioned, but I treat RSVP-ing seriously. When I say yes or no to something I do so before the date on the invitation and in the manner requested on the invitation. Both my girls have been taught that once something has been accepted you don't then change your mind if a better offer comes up. My oldest in particular has had a couple of occasions this year where she's missed good friend's parties or sleepovers because she was already committed elsewhere.

Before our time, a written invitation would have necessitated a written RSVP. Heck, even in my time, I can recall writing endless replies to friends' parents for invitations to 18th and 21st birthday parties.

Another school mum who has much older step-children tells me that organising 18th and 21st birthday parties nowadays is a nightmare, as no-one RSVPs in advance. Parents are left wondering how many exactly they are catering for, while the younger generation watch their mobile phones in case a better offer appears in their SMS in-box.

But then, perhaps they were the ones whose parents didn't RSVP to six year old birthday parties either.

Tell me, am I just grumpy and out of touch with the etiquette of today?


trashalou said...

I hear ya! We are having a sleepover this weekend for 6 10 or 11 year olds. Invites out three weeks in advance, RSVP clearly marked. We have had all five girls state that they really, really, really want to come but one is still debating the merits of the choice her evil mother offered (sleepover or day out shopping), one is in hysterics because she cannot get there until later b/c of swimming commitments and yet another is 'definitely coming' but may be a no show at the last minute. It is driving me crackers!Not a single parent(or child, these chicks are no longer babies) has actually done a written confirmation and only one has said anything to me! This drives me insane. So I shall fill their daughters up with fizzy drink and cake for breakfast before sending them home in a sleep-deprived sugar rush to do their homework!

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

Preaching to the Choir here. This stuff really gets to me.

My parents were very strict about RSVP'ing - certainly no accepting a better offer later etc.

I think it is the height of rudeness to reply that "I might be coming, I'll let you know" (we'll see what other offers turn up) unless it is for a valid reason like current illness.

It seems like a sad erosion of manners - now I just sound like a Grandma (I'm Gen X actually).

Aunty Evil said...

And it's not just birthday parties, it happens for weddings too!

How rude, I hate a lack of manners, and people who say they are coming to a wedding then just not show up on the day, without even calling to let you know out of courtesy that they can't get there for whatever reason is just ignorant. Even after the day if they can't call you on the day.

Or worse! The singles who say they are coming, and turn up with an uninvited guest so everyone has to scramble around finding a chair for them, which really usually isn't so hard because you can just put them in the seats of the rude buggers who didn't show up!

Don't get me started on bad manners.

Oh. You already have...

Janet said...

I agree. It's important because you need to know how many you are catering for and to be able to tell your child whether or their friends are coming! And when I was rsvping to some invites today, I was able to clarify the address and let the hostness know we might be a little late because we have to come straight from another party. Which I though she might want to know because parties are stressful enough without having your child wondering whether their best friend from childcare is going to show or not.

Janet said...

oops, sorry about the spelling errors! that would be hostess and thought....

Stomper Girl said...

It just boils down to manners, doesn't it. It is good manners to let someone know if you are coming or not. But I don't know that I really realised that until I started hosting parties and such. You have to be on the receiving end of it before you realise quite how annoying lack of rizvips is. (I'm a very good rizvipper nowadays)

Nanu said...

I just can't believe what you're all experiencing. Do the adults not understand the difficulties and disappointments of not knowing who's coming and who's not. Doesn't it bother them when it happens to them? Maybe not. As yet I haven't got a solution but for me it would have to something really vindictive to be treated with such disregard and disrespect. Have to say that's never been our experience but then that was way back in the Dark Ages!

Nanu said...

P.S. Love the cake and fizzy drinks idea but that would only be a start!

Megan said...

You know, we make it easy. You can text the reply for heaven's sake. It's not like we ask you to get out the good paper and the quill and ink. Or pay for a stamp.

Don't even get me started on the thank you notes.

PS Gulp. I did reply to IP's party didn't I?

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

I agree whole-heartedly on the RSVP issue. Tho' I have been lax in responding timely, I have never not responded at all. That being said, I heard a relative lament being called out by another relative for not RSVPing in a timely manner. I hate to nitpick but the woman who had the party served ONE communal bowl of chips and decorate your own cupcake for the kiddos. It was not a sit down affair where numbers were absolutely needed. Call me a complainer, but if you request a response to your invitation, make your party worth coming to.

Stacey said...

You've got me on one of my pet issues here. My youngest is having a 7th birthday party in a few weeks and I will definitely be expecting RSVPs.
Last year, the eldest had a party at a bowling centre and not only did kids who had not RSVP'd turn up, an uninvited kid turned up as well.
His Mother said that he told her he had been invited but had lost the invitation. I, without putting too fine a point on it, explained that he hadn't been invited. I don't particularly like the child or the parent, nor does Conor, so I didn't really wish say the kid could say, but the Mum quickly said she had an appointment so could he stay? While I stood there with my mouth opening and closing like a stunned gold fish, she was off.
To add insult to injury, she was late picking him up and we had to wait around after the other kids had gone.
Some people have no manners, no shame.
Invite me to a party and I will be guaranteed to RSVP. Perhaps we should throw a bloggers party. At least we'd know how many were coming.

Boy on a bike said...

Had a birthday party to organise recently. We were a bit slack in getting the invitations out, but they still had two weeks notice. Got 4 replies. I had no idea how many to cater for. Some of those that were invited texted those who had arrived at the party to enquire as to whether they should bother attending or not. If I had known about that earlier, I would have grabbed the phone and texted back, "You are uninvited, you rude little prat".

I think I will organise the next party at some sort of events centre, and make it clear to the parents that I will only pay for those kids that RSVP. Any that turn up on the day without an RSVP can pay their own freight - or bugger off.