Monday, October 31, 2011

Respond So Very Promptly

One thing I absolutely love about this time of year is that it signals the official launch of Newman’s Own Party Season! Sure, spring and summer parties are fine, but I much prefer those that occur during the fall and winter months because: a) we have snazzier fashion choices, b) we’re offered snazzier food choices, and c) there’s less sweating.

And even though it’s a party, certain rules exists that one must follow, the primary one being that of the RSVP. The RSVP is a request for a response from the invited person. It comes from the French phrase répondez s'il vous plaît, meaning "Please respond". That’s your cue to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s quite simple, but not practiced as diligently as it should be.

I have been guilty of a last minute RSVP recently. Although it was a family ‘do, I verbally responded to the key players, but I didn’t officially notify the hostess until a couple of days prior to the event. Shame on me. I felt terrible and vowed never to leave a hostess hanging in such a manner because I know what it’s like to have potential guests who don’t commit. Having learned my lesson, I shall now pass my vast knowledge of party etiquette on to you.

The ‘Maybe’ option on an invitation (we see them quite a bit on electronic invitations) drives me mad. A decent host will issue invitations weeks before a party, and your selection of ‘Maybe’ sends the message I’ll come, unless I find something better to do. Typically, a host will request an official ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by a certain date, so there’s really no need to respond immediately with a ‘maybe’. Your host needs an accurate head count in order to know how much food to prepare and how much wine to have on hand. If you actually show up to the party, still on the ‘maybe’ list, you may be out of luck when it comes to cheese ball portions and the good wine.

‘Yes’ responders are my favorites, particularly when they show up. Should you RSVP a ‘yes’ and are struck by an illness, family emergency, or a recent arrest, contact your hostess immediately, offering your regrets. That’s classy, especially if you’re the latter and it’s your one opportunity to make a phone call.

‘No’ responders usually feel the need to explain why they can’t attend. I don’t need an explanation, but word to the wise: I party by the Three Strike Rule. If I’ve invited you to three different parties and you’ve yet to come to one, you’re off the list, especially if you’ve responded ‘maybe’ to each one and have yet to show. I take a tough love approach to throwing parties.

As much as I adore going to parties, I simply can’t make them all, unfortunately. I work wonky hours sometimes, which keeps me away from a few shindigs. My husband works nights, and, call me old-fashioned, I don’t go to parties without him unless it’s hosted by a family member or is one of those ‘Girls Only’ type of things (Pampered Chef parties, bridal showers, baby showers, etc.) held in someone’s home or in a restaurant (I won’t go if it takes place in a club – especially if it’s a baby shower (tacky) – because, as a happily married woman, I don’t believe I have any business hanging out in bars without my husband present, even if it is with ‘the girls’. I didn’t always feel this way, but after a Come to Jesus moment a few years ago, I realized this is what’s right for me. It may not be right for you, and that’s okay. You’re not me, and I’m not you, so let’s just band together and practice individuality, shall we? ) I mention this because I get many invitations to clubs, thanks to the number of musicians I know who want me to come to their shows, and I simply want to set the record straight. It’s not you, it’s me. It’s always me. When I must turn down a request for my presence, I’m always sure to thank the hostess for including me on her invite list.

The point of this little musing is to remind you that it’s common courtesy to respond promptly and accurately to your party invitations. The pointer point of it is to let you know that the size of my cheese ball depends on you. And I take my cheese balls very, very seriously.

Beth Newman
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