A five year old boy receives a bill for failing to attend a friend’s birthday party he previously said he would attend. It’s a story that has gone viral and angered many parents: http://www.people.com/article/british-boy-sent-invoice-missing-birthday-party
Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says, “I’ve never heard of such a thing and it’s clearly in bad taste; however, even if the invitation got lost, once the parents knew their son was unable to attend, they should have tried to find a way to let the hosts of the party know for planning purposes.”
Whitmore said unfortunately, many hostesses have to call their guests to see if they will be attending the party. Parents definitely need a lesson in the art of responding to invitations. This is not just a problem in the parenting realm but in the entertaining realm as well. It is one of the biggest pet peeves of hostesses today.
Whitmore’s tips for being a better party guest:
– Please respond. If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to a party, respond as soon as possible. Generally speaking, invitations should be responded to within a week of receipt or by the date specified on the invitation. All invitations should be responded to regardless of whether or not you plan to attend. If you wait until the last minute to respond, it may appear as if you are waiting for a more attractive offer to come along.
– Keep your word. If you tell the host that you will be attending, be sure to follow through, even if you can stay for a short while. If you don’t show up, you must have a legitimate reason for your absence. You’re more likely to be forgiven if you become ill, have a family emergency, or have to work.
– Choose your guest carefully. Don’t bring a guest unless you are invited to do so. An extra person could add extra stress if the host is uninformed or unprepared. Make sure your guest is a positive reflection on you and not an embarrassment.
– Call if you have to cancel. If you promise to attend and find out at the last minute you won’t be able to, call as soon as possible. Don’t send someone in your place without clearing it with the host first. An invitation that states, “non-transferable,” means it is intended for the recipient only and should not be given to anyone else. You may forfeit your chances of ever being invited to another event by that person if you aren’t considerate enough to accept or decline an invitation. An invitation that states, “Regrets only,” means you should call only if you are unable to attend, otherwise the host will assume you’re coming.
– Bring a gift. To show your appreciation for the invite, bring a small gift for the host. Attach a card to it so the host will know who brought it. Don’t assume the host will remember what you brought. If you bring flowers, put them in a vase or send them the day of the event. A bottle of wine makes a nice gift if you know the host will enjoy and appreciate it. Don’t expect the host to serve or show your gift at the party. In many cases, the host may have already chosen the wines to match the menu.
– Show your appreciation. Never leave the party without saying goodbye to the hosts and thanking them for inviting you. If you have to leave early, simply mention that you have another obligation and you must be going. No other excuse is necessary. Write a thank-you note within 48 hours, even if you brought a gift or verbally expressed your thanks.
To increase your chances of getting a better response rate, Whitmore suggests the following:
– Give your guest a timeline as to when to respond. In other words include a deadline date on the invitation.
– Never put “regrets only” on an invitation. That’s no way to guarantee how many people will show up.
– It’s best not to send an invitation via the Internet. Your invitation may wind up in someone’s spam filter. And they may say they never received it, letting them off the hook.
– If the guest does not respond by the deadline date, you’ll have to call. This way you’ll be assured of getting a more accurate head count.
– If a guest confirms but doesn’t show up, call and express your concern. Don’t send them a bill. You might reconsider ever inviting them again.