Why Don’t People RSVP and Bring Hostess Gifts?

Jun 14, 2014 by



This article was originally posted several years ago.  The problem is, the issue seems to have gotten worse.  Are we so self focused that we can no longer think of others?  Read this post, and comment.  I want to hear your thoughts


Yes, this is my question, and I want to hear from you in the comments, especially if you are someone who doesn’t RSVP when invited to an event. I won’t hold it against you, today all judgment’s suspended. I truly want to your help solving one of these mysteries of life!

At the time of this writing, I am seventy-two hours away from helping to host our Mom’s Night Out for our local co-op for homeschooling families. Here are my stats:

  • Seventy-four invitations were sent
  • Twelve people confirmed they were coming
  • Twenty-three answered they were not
  • Four women told me they weren’t sure
  • Thirty-five women told me nothing

This is a dynamic I find over and over and over again as an event planner. I do not understand when it became the hostess’ responsibility to track down her guests AFTER already extending an invitation.

As a hostess, I also wrestle with the question, “Can I bring something?” I understand potluck’s become the status quo in some circles, but when did it become the norm? I rarely receive hostess gifts or thank you cards anymore, however.

Is this a California dynamic, an under-forty dynamic, or mother of children at home dynamic? What do you think? Why don’t you RSVP or bring a hostess gift when you are invited somewhere? I honestly want to know what you think.


Dawnya Sasse is the Tea Party Girl.  In 1997 she began combining her passion for afternoon tea and entrepreneurial adventure.  The result was 2 successful tea rooms and an online tea business training school http://www.StartATeaBusiness.com   Dawnya offers a huge variety of tea education resources perfect for the tea lover, hobbiest and those who want to start a tea career.

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  1. Lack of RSVP’s really drives me nuts too! My hubby’s family ALWAYS does this and I hate it. When you are trying to plan, you need to know. I got to the point with them that I put on their invites only, “If you don’t RSVP, don’t come”. It works…
    I always bring a hostess gift, especially if I am going there for the first time. It shows respect, courtsey and caring.

  2. I’ll bite. We were invited to a party a few weeks ago, and I forgot to RSVP. In my defense, though, our entire house was torn up due to major repairs, and everything was topsy-turvy. I distractedly read my mail, then misplaced it. The party had come and gone by the time I remembered it, and I apologized profusely to the hostess!

    Honestly, I think the problem these days with most people is busyness. Look at any average family, and they’re all crazy-busy with activities and jobs and whatnot. I think people often don’t know ahead of time what they’re going to be doing, and for whatever reason, they’re not willing to commit to anything in advance. At least, that’s what I assume is going on with people these days.

    Some of it is probably also that the social graces just aren’t being reinforced. I rarely receive thank-you notes from anyone these days, which admittedly bothers me.

    As for hostess gifts, I think that just depends on how a person is raised. Not all circles do hostess gifts, and others have always done them. Personally, I don’t really like them. I don’t need or necessarily want any little trinkets from anyone; I just want their company.

  3. I will admit that I don’t always RSVP and it’s usually because of convenience – especially if it’s someone I don’t really know (like a birthday party for a student in your child’s class). However, if there is an e-mail address and I can just email the person I always RSVP. I find I get more RSVPs that way as well.

    I’ve also seen people do “RSVP regrets only”.

    I think the hostess gift thing is maybe an under-40 thing? We had a big Christmas Open House a few years ago for about 75 people. Probably 3 or 4 people brought little gifts and I was surprised. It was nice but I wasn’t expecting it.

    I do however ALWAYS send a thank you note. My mama taught me that much.

  4. Let’s see. I do my best to RSVP when asked because so many don’t do that for me and I know how frustrating it is.

    I’m planning a Soup Exchange the 1st Saturday in Nov. I sent out 15 invites 3 weeks ago, specifically stressing the importance of an RSVP, and I’ve only heard back from 3 so far (all attending). Since I haven’t heard from the others, I’ll have to take the time to email or call them individually to try to get their answer.

    As for the hostess gift, it depends on the situation. If it’s a work-related function, I’ll more often than not bring a nice bottle of wine as a gift.

    If it’s our group of close friends, we usually do potluck and so we ask, “Can I bring something?” to try to help contribute. If they say “No thanks” I usually still try to surprise them with a sweet treat or something.

    Not sure that my response helped much. 🙂

  5. Being raised in the South, I ALWAYS RSVP and I never walk into someone’s house without a hostess gift. Even though my mother is 4 states away, I think she would somehow sense it and drive 26 hours to come and spank my 38 year old tushie! LOL!

    If I don’t know anything personal about the hostess, tea towels are a perfect gift. You can never have enough tea towels.

  6. JCK

    Hi Tea Lady,

    I’m not sure I have any answers for you, but I have this discussion – often. It seems we have a whole generation of people who don’t know what R.S.V.P really means. I’ve started doing Regrets Only on invitations, which helps… a bit. Maybe.

    I don’t think it is an under 40 thing, as I’m …deep breath…46 and I still see it. Maybe a tendency in California, but it happened in Georgia, too. Frankly, it bespeaks of bad manners at any age. I think it says more about our society at large. We’re moving too fast, looking at the next thing while thinking of what we’re going to do tomorrow and not stepping back and taking the time for a lovely sip of tea… thanks for your questions!

    One more thing…74 invites! Yikes! You GO girl!

  7. Personally I always RSVP and if I didn’t then I feel HORRIBLE about it! I know it’s a royal pain trying to plan anything (wedding reception?) when you don’t know how many are coming. I wish there was some way to say, if you don’t RSVP by X date then you are uninvited. But that might be rude… 🙂 and I suppose there really are people who don’t know until the last minute, but then you’d think they could still call…
    As for hostess gifts… what kind of atmosphere are you talking about? A simple dinner invite? An extended stay? In my circle of friends we all kind of take turns hosting dinners so bringing a gift would be rather weird I think. As an extended stay guest (like overnight) I think that would be appropriate. although now I feel guilty because we have some friends that we stay with and I’ve never even thought to bring them a gift…

  8. I almost always RSVP, so I can’t help you there. I do tend to think that in most cases, those who don’t RSVP aren’t planning to come.

    As for the potluck idea, I do usually ask if I can bring something. I think, in our circle of friends, it’s a “verging on poverty” thing. If the host(ess) really wants to do it all, I have no problem just hearing “nothing, thanks” when I ask.

    Hostess gifts. Hmmm … it’s been a while since I’ve been to any REAL dinner parties (as opposed to a bunch of us gathering for a planned potluck meal), but I would say I generally feel that if I’m bringing food, I don’t feel obliged to bring a gift or card specifically as a thank you. Depending on my relationship with the host(s), I may send a thank you note afterwards. I do feel a little funny showing up completely empty handed, however, so if I’m not asked to bring something, I am much more likely to make or buy a small gift to bring.

  9. Hi

    I’m 33 and I always RSVP. Hostess gifts are not a “thing to do” in South Africa. However, if people ask, “can I bring something?” the hostess usually says, “bring a drink”.

    There are the odd people (and I’m one of them) who love giving gifts. I have friends who always bring me flowers when they come over for supper.

    I like making bath salts so I often take some with me for the hostess.

    Hope this helped!

  10. This kind of proper ettiquette is not taught any more. Unless you want to make it a personal mission to provide ettiquette training, this is something you’ll have to be prepared for. First, make a list of things that people bring if and when you are asked, “What can we bring?” Second, you don’t have to track everyone down to get the head count. That’s their responsibililty whether they like it or not. Just be prepared for 10-20% more attendance than the number of people who RSVP’ed.

    Almost everyone has good intentions, but life is sometimes to chaotic to remember to actually RSVP.

  11. It drives me crazy when people don’t RSVP, but I don’t think that not RSVPing can be attributed to a certain group.

    My mom raised my sister and I to write thank you notes for everything. If we’re going to dinner at someone’s house, and they don’t want us to bring food, I like to bring flowers or a candle.

  12. I always RSVP. The odd time an invite will go forgotten, but rarely!
    However, when I send invites, I’ve learned to assume no one will RSVP, but all might show…had to lower my expectation or I would only fester about nothing.
    I also don’t understand the need to insist on bringing a dish…this is my gig!…I’m doing the cooking, menu, etc.,
    And yes, wouldn’t a lovely hello gift or thank you card be so wonderful!!! and easily in place of a potluck dish?
    I’m so on the same page as you!

  13. I had this same problem with my wedding. I had to hound and hound people to find out if they were coming or not. And I live in the southeast! So it’s not just a California thing. 🙂 I think most of the time people don’t RSVP if they’re not coming. Or, they somehow expected you to know whether they were coming or not. I know I tend to procrastinate RSVPing if it involves me calling someone I don’t know. I’m REALLY shy on the phone. If I’m given other avenues to RSVP then I’ll take those.

    To be honest, I’ve never thought about bringing a hostess gift. I can see how it’s a nice gesture, but I was never taught to do that growing up and I don’t see it done when having people over to my place.

  14. This is a very good question! I often wonder about the opposite, as well…when people RSVP (and so we prepare for them), then don’t show up and never call to give regrets or anything.

    Unfortunately, I cannot shed any light on these mysteries, but I am hoping other readers can!

  15. You know I have to respond to this! First let me say that my Mother taught to me to never arrive at someone’s home without a gift; i.e., pie, cookies, flowers, whatever…I asked my Mother years ago why she took stuff to people every time we visited and she said “It’s just the way I was brought up.” If I attend a dinner/party/appetizers–whatever, at someone’s home, I take a gift (“thanks for inviting me”) and the next morning I send a thank-you note (“thanks for the evening/meal, etc.). Good luck with the Rsvp’s!!! That is one of the biggest etiquette mistakes that people make. It is simply rude NOT to Rsvp! If someone is kind enough to invite you to an event, take the time to Rsvp. It’s pathetic that you have to pick up the phone and ASK them if they will be attending. I entertain a lot and I end up having to call people all the time. Not Rsvp-ing is a sure way to get OFF my party list!:)
    Miss Janice

  16. Not RSVP’ing is very common today, judging from my personal experience. Sigh. I feel for you.

    I take a no-response as a “No, I won’t be there” response and plan accordingly. There have been events that I have hosted, business and personal where it became very expensive to plan on all those no responses being yes’es.

    On the other hand, it has also been rather embarrasing when I’ve ran short of food and materials when I wrongly assumed almost all of the no responses were indeed, no. In spite of these few occassions, I still plan on the exact # of “Yes” RSVP’s because often the number of guests that show up without a rspv make up for those that rsvp “yes” that end up not coming.

    Take Care,


  17. It’s not a California thing! Yeah, we’re casual, but–at least in my circle–our Mamas raised us right! I wouldn’t dream of NOT RSVP-ing if the invitation requests a reply. If you don’t reply to my invitation, I will leave you umpteen messages until I find out if you’re coming 🙂 I also would not attend an event without asking the host what I could do to help or what I could bring. I don’t expect hostess gifts, but I do love getting them, and ALWAYS give one! Even if it’s as tried-and-true as a bottle of wine, anything that shows you appreciate the effort your host made to welcome you into their home is great!

  18. Megan

    I wish I had an answer for you. I know sometimes I just forget to RSVP, I get caught up in life or lose the darn invitation. Many times I have finally cleaned the counter and found an invitation to a party that happened a week ago. I would love to say that this is what happens with everyone, but I know that some people are just rude. They don’t see a need to call and say they aren’t coming, or that they are. You should just “know” what they are doing, and if you don’t, oh well.

    The gift/thank you thing is a bit trickier. I know that I like to send a thank you the next day or so, but I don’t usually bring a gift. I think I am more afraid of brining something that the host/hostess won’t like or won’t use, so I don’t bring anything. But at times it does feel strange. And most of of the time our parties are cook out potluck type get togethers, and we just bring a food item.

    This post isn’t much help I know, but thanks for inviting me to respond! 🙂

  19. Having been raised in the south by southern parents, I always RSVP. I think the trick is to RSVP as soon as you get the invitation, so it’s not one more thing on my list of to-do’s that can get forgotten.

    I do think it is more common in California (having lived in GA, SC, PA, CA, and CO, I found it to be worse there). But I also believe it’s getting more common everywhere. People are more willing to use busy-ness as an excuse, rather than take personal responsibility for being courteous!

    Okay, stepping off the soapbox and taking a deep breath …

    The best remedy I’ve found for this problem is to use Evites. It’s a free email service that sends email invitations (with lots of cute customizable options). You as the hostess get notified with each response, and every guest is reminded of the event a few days before it happens. I still don’t get 100% response, but it’s better.

  20. LEAH


  21. Katmaxx

    My sister-in-law has had good luck using evites.
    She emails people the link to her party invitation and the site gives them a click box for attending or not. She seems to get a response from almost everyone but this would necesitate having everyone’s email address.

  22. I JUST cancelled a party I was hosting tonight because NO ONE RSVP’D! Honestly, I don’t care if people were going to attend and simply forgot to RSVP. I could not plan an evening not knowing if anyone was showing up. I flat out cancelled. Maybe that will teach some people to RSVP (sorry.. wounds still fresh. LOL).

    Hostess gift: I like to bring one but instead of a food item which might make the hostess feel like she has to serve it with her prepared menu, I like to bring some flowers or a bottle of wine they can enjoy later. And yes.. YES.. on sending a thank you note.

  23. I always RSVP. Always. Of course, that’s not always the case in return, though. What about putting ‘Regrets only’ instead of ‘RSVP’?

    As for hostess gifts, I like to take a little something for the hostess, but I never expect a gift when I host. It’s a nice surprise when it happens.

    If I’m hosting a party, I like to have a little ‘Thanks for coming!’ gift too. This weekend we’re having some families over and I’ve made Halloween boxes of treats for each family. Nothing big, just something fun for them to take home with them.

  24. The way I have dealt with this problem is by a reasonable time (when I need to know) I now telephone everyone who has not responded, and ASK them if they received the invitation, and if they are coming. Then they will tell me and I don’t have to wonder. The few who aren’t sure, I tell them I really need to have a decision now (or give them 24 hours to make up their mind). If they don’t respond, I call them again. At least I don’t have to be left in the dark.


  25. I always RSVP. In fact, once I went to a baby shower and the hostess actually said out loud that she didn’t know how much food to make because only one person had RSVP’d and pointed to me. It was kind of embarrasing but she got her point across to the rest of the people there. People never RSVP when we have a party. We really only have birthday parties for our kids, but it really drives me nuts. Of course, I know if the people in my family are coming, but my husband’s family never lets us know, so now I make him call his family and ask them so we know how much food to make.

    As far as the hostess gifts, I guess we’re not sophisticated enough to be invited to parties that I feel it would be appropriate. When we’re just around our friends I know none of them probably even know what that is. We’ve been invited to spend the night with some friends of my husband’s parents in another town and we brought homemade beer and wine and gave it to them. We are usually invited to a nice New Year’s Eve party and we bring wine. Other than that, we don’t give or receive hostess gifts.

    It drives me nuts when we’re having a party and people ask what to bring and I tell them nothing and they bring something anyway, besides whatever they want to drink if it’s something we might not have. Usually I have my food planned out and I don’t want extra food, especially when it is mediocre at best. My husband’s grandma always does this. Even to the kids’ birthday parties she’ll stop and get ice cream, even though we have plenty. It drives me nuts.

    Okay, I just realized most of my complaints are about my husband’s family, so I’ll quit now.

  26. I’ve been told that many people think “RSVP” means to let the host know if you *are* coming, rather than what it really means, which, abreviated, means “respond, please” (whether you’re attending or not). Needless to say, I always correct people who tell me this, and try to impress upon them the importance of taking 2 seconds to call, email or send back a response whether you plan to attend or not. It’s a lot of work to plan even a small get-together, and the host needs to know how many to expect to complete those plans.

    Personally, I think being busy is just an excuse. Someone took a lot of time out of *thier* busy schedule to invite people to thier home. Not giving that invitation enough priority to respond immediately regardless of how busy “life” is is just plain rude, and says to me that the invitation is not respected or appreciated by those who receive it. If it were important to the recipient, it would get the attention it deserves, and not get lost in the “shuffle”.

    For our annual Halloween party this year, I included pre-addressed, pre-stamped postcards in with the invitations, and expect to start getting them back soon (people received the invites yesterday). I find that pre-stamping them makes it hard for people to ignore it, since they hate wasting a stamp *I* had to pay for. 🙂

    Needless to say, I always respond to an invitation the day I get it with either a note, email, or message left on someone’s answering machine. Generally I can tell by the tone of the invitation what kind of gathering it is, and I offer to bring something if I think it’s appropriate.

    As for hostess gifts, around here, the standard is a bottle of wine (or a pack of beer for the guys), and we generally hold to that standard as well…it’s something most everyone appreciates, and it can be put away for later (or to be passed on again) without taking up much space.

    Thank you notes for events are not something I was ever brought up with, nor have I ever received one – but thanks are always given profusely at the end of an evening no matter where we go or who we have over, so it doesn’t seem necessary.

  27. Amy

    I am with you about the RSVP dilemma-it just drives me CRAZY. And I know that everyone is busy, but can that be the excuse for everyone??

    I am not a southerner by any stretch of the imagination, but I never go to someone’s home where we have been invited without a small token of appreciation. It can be something as simple as some kitschy magnets or a bundle of note cards, or a small gift card for a cup of coffee with a note. Other times we have brought a bottle of our favorite olive oil with a nice bow-nothing fancy.

    My thought is that if they have taken the time to have us over, I can offer a gesture of thanks. And, like so many others, I ALWAYS write thank you notes, for fear of my mother finding out that I didn’t! 🙂

  28. You and many others may not like my response, but honesty is always the best policy ~ right?

    I’ve hosted events for Mother’s Night Out, Sunday School groups, etc. etc. I’ve learned (and it’s hard) to only buy for the actual number who RSVPed they are coming plus 4-5. What happens when others come? Well, maybe they will get the idea????

    It’s a waste of money and time to not know who all is coming and when you send out an invitation with an RSVP always call about 10 days before the event to make sure some didn’t get lost in the mail. Just let them know that you need a number because you don’t want to buy food or whatever for it to be wasted.

    Hostess gifts? Hmmm… I don’t know about this one. If someone I barely know invites me to dinner or whatever, I usually try to get some sort of small trinket for them. But if I KNOW you well and have been to your home several occasions, buying a hostess gift each time seems a little silly.

  29. Lara

    I find it difficult to respond to invitations to parties that I don’t want to attend. It is always awkward to call and say I’m not coming. Do I make up an excuse which the hostess kinda expects or be cool and offer no excuse at all. Seriously the third invitation to a bridal shower for the same bride probably isn’t going to be at the top of my priority list. And group invitations, those where everyone in a group is invited whether the hostess knows each person personally or not, where it is kind of an obligation, I sometimes don’t bother to rsvp either. Is your mother’s party in that category?

  30. I always RSVP. To solve the problem with my own parties, I put the following on the invitation:

    “RSVP, regrets only”


    “RSVP, yes or no”

    I’m not sure if it is proper etiquette to do this or not, but it has always worked well for me. I figure that it’s ok to put this (even if it might be improper etiquette) because it can’t be any worse than not RSVPing to a party, and that’s what usually happens if I just write “RSVP” on the invitation!

    Hope this helps!
    Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife

  31. I thought I’d post this in case Lara checked back to see if anyone answered her question.

    My way of responding to invitations I don’t want to attend is always to offer no excuse. I simply say I won’t be able to make it, and wish them a good time at thier party. If they press for a reason, I tell them that I have something else planned – which is completely true, since I plan *not* to attend the party. If you have trouble doing this over the phone, either call when you know they’re not home and leave a message, or write a note (you know, on all those pretty note cards we get as gifts and rarely use)! No one can argue with you in the mail (not without considerable trouble on thier part), and your obligation to RSVP has been fulfulled. 🙂

  32. Shannon

    My daughter is turning 5 in two weeks. Up until this birthday we’ve always had family only parties. This time, I decided to have a destination party for her and friends from her preschool. The destination is expensive, and she’s allowed to have 19 guest for the inclusive cost, each extra kid is $10. Well she has about 42 kids in her class and I couldn’t invite all of them. So I invited 28 kids (thinking that’s a good chance I’d end up with less than 19) and sent out invites 6 weeks in advance. I chose to put Regrets Only, thinking that would be easier, but now we are 2 weeks from the date and i’ve had 5 people call and say that they ARE coming. And no one has called or emailed that they are not. So I’m now thinking, do I invite more of the kids, the 14 that I didn’t invite? Because I really have no idea at this point who is coming and who is not coming and I do not have any phone numbers to call and ask. I’ve considered sending “reminders”. Would that be considered rude? Since i did say regrets only and now i’m asking them to let me know if it’s a yes or no? Not sure what to do.

  33. Colleen

    I made my own personal invitations to a nice Halloween Party, that I am giving for close friends. Just two RSVPs back. One is not coming, due to plans made ahead, and one is coming. I am still planning on my party, but I am afraid that I will be disappointed on the turnout. I think that people are just too invovled into their own lives, that they forget to let you know. Or they will decide at the last minute if they want to come or not. Yes, it is wrong that no one hardly has the courteous to tell you anymore. It does hurt your feelings also.

  34. Shery

    What do you think of sending an invitation to someone to rsvp, and then they ask if they can bring a friend, or their mother? It has put me an awkward position to decline their request. I plan carefully for activities, games, prizes, drinks, etc. and I make each guest their first drink, if everyone brought a friend, it would seem it would be all work and no play at your own party! Plus, I only have so much room. I am afraid if I say yes to one, the next time, others would bring their own guest. Am I being too stuffy about all this? I just don’t think it is proper to ask that of a hostess? Am I right?

  35. Nicole

    I have run into this more times then I’d care to admit. You know the whole if I had a nickel…

    The surest way I’ve found to know who is coming without having to follow up is to forget an important detail on purpose. I never forget the date, but usually the venue or the time will do. People will call to find out and let me know then. It’s sad that I have to go to that extreme, but it usually works. I do have some that just call someone else, but it’s something.

  36. People who don’t r.s.v.p are one of my pet peeeves. Such a mystery! And hostess gifts seem to be a thing of the past. I always take one, and am usually the only one that does so.
    A vintage tea society that I belong to usually puts “regrets only” on their invitations, so you only need to respond if you can not attend. However, it’s a monthly tea, so we already have it on our calendars.
    Let’s start a new trend. Let’s RSVP, take hostess gifts and send thank you cards. Maybe it will catch on.

  37. Linda

    We are in the midst of planning a tea party for the ladies of our church, and the RSVP’s are driving us crazy! We, too, have encountered two ladies who informed us that they may be bringing a guest, (not asked, mind you, told us) and many more have said, “I’ll try to make it, but I may not be there because…”. That one really gets under my skin, because these ladies think that they have responded to the RSVP, but they haven’t told us a thing. I would nver dream of doing such a thing to a hostess! If I had the slightest doubt that I could make the party, I would decline the invitation. Part of the problem, I guess is that they expect the church to accomodate them, and usually this is not a problem, but for a tea party a good idea of how many are attending is essential. Oh, well, it will all work out, but I am surprised at the lack of simple consideration!

  38. Jay

    I’m hosting an after work Holiday cocktail party for co-workers and only about 25% have rsvp’d.
    In these days of email, there is no excuse for at least acknowledging the invitation. I just can’t figure it out. In addition to the ones that don’t RSVP at all and don’t show up, there’s the group that don’t RSVP but do show up and the ones that RSVP they’re attending and then never show up….

    For an annual Christmas dinner I host, one friend stands there every year and watches every single other guest bring a host gift. She even comments on what nice gifts they bring but NEVER brings one herself…. No thank you after the dinner either….

    I’ve just decided that when you entertain, it’s for the joy of doing it and letting the inconsiderateness of guests ruin it for you is not worth it. It does make planning a litte more difficult though.

  39. Stacie

    Honest to goodness, I thought RSVP meant “I plan to attend” I never RSVP if I do not plan on attending the event.

    Now gifts, I honestly would rather have people show up and enjoy the party than to worry about gifts, even at my kids birthday parties!!!!

  40. Nina

    I’m hosting a tea party for quite a large number of people and only half have RSVP’d. I’m kinda getting nervous because I’m using china, silver, linens, etc. and I have to borrow chairs and tables and I don’t know if I should just plan on everyone who hasn’t RSVP’d coming because what if they do come and I don’t have a place for them to sit?

    Oh, and my mother always taught me to bring a gift (wine, cookies, candle, etc) to a party. And to write a thank you note right away. She says, “You aren’t going to get more thankful as time goes on.”

  41. Hi there!
    I LOVE this discussion here! Do you happen to have a book or a link that you could recommend that goes over exactly WHEN to take a hostess gift with you? Is it proper to take a hostess gift every time you are invited to someone’s home? Or just for formal times?

    Also, I have a thing about people not RSVPing, too. You simply have NO idea how to plan. It can get frustrating and you end up with SO many leftovers! OH MY!!

    Thank you for your wonderful site!

    Mrs. U

  42. Mrs. M

    I entertain a great deal and the lack of responses these days to formally sent invitations amazes me.

    I will say, however, my friends have become much better at it. Those who have done it twice in a row and no longer invited, pure and simple. Those who have replied y es then didn’t show (happened twice over the years) are no longer invited either, of course.

    I cannot understand the lack of manners today. I would never DREAM of not responding to an invitation, or not bringing something for the hostess, or not thanking them properly with a lovely snail-mail card of thanks. My mother would haunt me in reprimand should I fail to do any of those properly mannered things!

    Thing is? Seldom do people have gatherings. Sad but true. The dying art of entertaining just breaks one’s heart.

    I host formal proper theme tea gatherings often or fancy dinner parties, and these are EXTRMELY labor intensive (especially at the last minute just prior to guests arriving.)

    Pet peeve:

    1.) Guests arriving too early. I have actually had guests actually arrive as early as 45 minutes! Can you even imagine the audacity? I was casually dressed with my hair in curlers. I couldn’t believe it. I shouldn’t have answered the door. What were they thinking? You can just tell they have never once hosted a party themselves!

    2.) Remember to do your homework ahead of time before arriving at a party and know where you are going! It is REALLY difficult to accommodate guests who call for directions just as other guests are arriving. Imagine how difficult it is for a lone hostess to answer door, phone in hand, take coats, invite in, and last-minute prepare things as the phone is ringing for directions. Do your homework. Don’t be one of those guests!

    3.) As WONDERFUL it is to receive flowers as a hostess gift, please remember to have the flowers in their own container or planter. Don’t bring cut flower bouquets to a busy hostess. She cannot stop everything she is doing to go find a vase, cut the stems and arrange your bouquet. It isn’t nearly as thoughtful as you may think on the receiving end. Just plan ahead and bring an old one of your own and give her the vase too – or my favorite, bring seasonal planters, small ones are so nice, as they are ready to set out and seldom require a thing more for the hostess to spend her time preparing.

    4.) Unless it is a potluck never bring food to a party, it is just simply gauche. Although a nice hostess gift is those little boxes of chocolates for the hostess to enjoy later placed in a mini gift bag, or wrapped in a theme wrapping paper and filk flowers tied to the top of the box……or a nice box of loose-leaf tea, or wrapped gift cookies. Those kinds of foods are lovely. Just don’t bring food for the party. It is offensive and high maintenance.

    My favorite hostess gift giver always brings a seasonal pack of lovely paper napkins. She occassionaly places a nice gift soap to match, or something like that, tied in a fabric ribbon. Sometimes they are placed in a small gift bag. I always love her bringing napkins because inevitably it is nice to just open up and use for spills and such for that very party! (I only use cloth napkins at my parties, not good for tea spills, jam, lipstick removal etc.)

    I think as far as hostess gift giving is concerned is never go to a party empty handed, a little something costs very little and shows class and appreciation. Keep in mind bringing only “consumables” things the hostess uses up like soap, napkins, candy, candles, wine, etc., that is the best gifts to bring.

    Anyway, long post, sorry, thank you for letting me share my thoughts.

  43. Hi Jenny,

    I have to admit I have been one of those who have forgotten! I usually remember but once in a while I do forget. It is usually when life is exceptionally busy.

    You would think that because it bothers me as a hostess, I would never forget….

    I don’t think it is a age related thing, I think it is how one is trained.

  44. Sam

    Sorry girls. I’m one of those ladies that is so busy I do forget to rsvp. If I can attend, I’m typically on the phone to rsvp. If I’m not or I’m not sure when I open the invitation, I set it to the side. Unfortunately, I tend to forget to get back to it.

    I host a lot of parties and women’s events, so I certainly understand the frustrations in planning. I work around it by generally knowing those I invite or making contact in other ways. I expect that if I don’t hear from someone they are unlikely to attend.

    As far as hostess gifts and thank you notes, I guess I have a different attitude. I don’t invite people to recieve gifts. I find it awkward to accept them. The fact that they make the time to spend with me is gift enough. I appreciate that people express their thanks during or as they’re leaving the get together. I find it formal and stiff when I recieve a thank you note. It makes me feel like they’re holding me at arms length.

    What I’m hearing is that most of the ladies responding take not recieving rsvp’s as a personal offense. I come from and have a large family. I expect that people do things that can hurt our feelings, typically without meaning to. I think if you told those who have done this how offensive it is to you, they would be stunned that it was taken personally and how strongly you feel about it.

    Did you ever think that maybe you are putting one more thing on someone’s filled to overflowing plate? You’re expectation that they put a decision and response to you at the top of their list seems a bit presumptive on your part. Please give it some thought.

  45. Stacy

    I was just reading thru the comments about not RSVPing and it’s true if you go through the trouble of sending out invitations and requesting people to RSVP and they can’t respond then it is VERY rude just to show up.
    However most of the parties that I have been too and done I don’t even have or recieve the actual invitation till the day of, mainly because whomever is having the party is calling me or someone that is going to contact me so, we get our messages.
    Now the potlucks are in way a gift if you want to look at it that way, you make the time to make or buy the item that you are bringing and it is thoughtful. If they say they don’t need anything then I still usally bring a sweet, or wine.
    With reference to ‘Thank You’ notes, I always thought they were to go to people you didn’t really know. For like Wedding gifts, Bridal Shower gifts, Birthday gifts, Graduation, that kind of events, not like an gathering of close friends and family.

  46. Leila

    Sam said, “Sorry girls. I’m one of those ladies that is so busy I do forget to rsvp”

    Are you the First Lady? If not, no excuses. It takes 2 minutes to bang out an e-mail (you are probably already on your e-mail anyway) or pick up the phone, say “I’m so sorry, I can’t make it, have a wonderful time, bye!” and hang up.

    No. Excuses.

  47. ji

    I’m planning a wedding in May, and for the reception I like “RSVP, yes or no” idea which someone shared above. If I only put “RSVP” I’ll likely be in the same situation as many of you — but adding “yes or no” seems to add a little emphasis and it may help others learn or remember what RSVP means. I haven’t seen this approach described in an etiquette book, though — but for these days and the condition of our society, this idea has merit…

    I have always understood RSVP to mean Respondez, s’il vous plait, or please respond — for me, a RSVP requires either an acceptance YES or a regret NO — silence is always treated as a regret.

  48. Holly

    I’m sorry, but I don’t agree that anyone can be too busy to RSVP. I also have a very busy schedule, but it doesn’t take any time at all to make a quick phone call to say if you are coming or not. If you are opening your mail, then you have a quick minute. Just grab your calendar, and if it’s empty on that day, then you can write the invite down and rsvp. If something else comes up, then the party has priority because it was requested first. If the date is full on your calendar, then rsvp a regret just as quickly.
    I also agree with other posters who have mentioned “consumable” hostess gifts.
    I am only 30, and I would feel awful not calling with a rsvp to an invitation, or not bringing a hostess gift to a dinner party/tea/etc.
    I do encounter this a lot, though, with events that I host or help to plan. There is such a lack of respect for the hostesses when people do not rsvp.

  49. I am 28 and always RSVP – Now don’t spank I have on the occasion forgot to RSVP when I was not attending but I would never show up to something unexpected nor would I ever not show up to something I RSVP’d to

    I get so mad when people RSVP then do not show up – I would rather had you not say anything to me at all

    As far as hostess gifts I don’t do that and would be quite surprised to see someone doing that – Now if I go somewhere I ask if they need anything and will bring what is needed but as far as providing someone a gift I don’t do it

  50. Deanna

    I wished more people would be considerate, I invited 20 ladies for an afternoon tea, it was alot of work to prepare my home and make enough sweets and savories along with a variety of teas, none RSVPed, twelve showed up and only one brought a hostess gift which I was not expecting but was thrilled to receive. however, we did have alot of fun, so I threw another party, this time not only did I send out invitations, I followed up with a phone call and an option to bring some sweets or savories. I ended up with a better turn out and a fabulous spread of delectable goodies.

  51. Jay

    Not RSVP-ing –> unforgiveable, there is no excuse.

    Showing up with no host gift –> tacky, but guess it all depends on your upbringing. I would rather die than show up empty handed, and think it’s great fun to find something fun to take the host.

    No thank you note –> again, show what kind of upbrining you had – people that don’t write thank yous are making an etiquette breach of the most serious nature.

  52. Mary

    I guess I’m a rude hostess. I and my husband give guests several opportunities to let us know if they’re coming to one of our parties, and if they don’t commit, but show up, we welcome them with a surprised, “How nice to see you, we thought you weren’t coming!” and go rummaging around for extra chairs in front of everybody.

    I always RSVP immediately or I’ll forget. I once had a roomate who waited till the last minute to see if she’d get a better offer. So rude.

    I like to bring a small CONSUMABLE hostess gift, usually unusual or scenic cocktail napkins that will be conversation starters at some later gathering.

    I’m shy about “Thank you’s”, but it gets exponentially harder the longer you wait, so best to call the next morning, even if you know you’ll get the answering machine.

    After all, the hostess not only cooked, she cleaned her house!

    With potlucks, which is pretty common among us working folks, RSVPs aren’t as important, but still you want to know if there’s going to be a dessert. No gift. And a happy and prolonged goodbye suffices, thought it’s fun to get a call the next day.

  53. Bonnie Gustin

    Hi I read all the responses and they gave me some good advise.
    I was hoping I could have a question answered though. I did not seem to find a situation that related to mine. I am giving my daughter a Bridal Shower is August. And I already sent out the Invitations. I gave until July 24th for their reply. I sent out 53 invitations and only have had 10 so far. I am planning for 40 guests.
    If I dont get everyones I elaborated for them to RSVP. If I dont hear from them all, is it RUDE to call them and ask if they are planning on coming. Your advise is much apprecaited. Thanks

  54. Therese

    I just gave a shower and a wedding for my daughter both events we had return stamped RSVP – we included “I will attend” and “I will not be able to attend” and the number of people. To let people know that we expected the card back either way. Still didn’t help – we had over 400 invited to the wedding and three days before the RSVP due date we only had about 75 that responded . So we sent a reminder postcard to remind them the wedding was around the corner and we needed a count to reserve their seat (because I didn’t want to call 325 people and then it seems like you are begging them to come) the reminder postcards helped so much! But it’s a shame to have to pay extra postage to remind people. For the wedding we sent the cards out close to the RSVP due date just like 10 days (thinking if we sent them out too early people put them to the side and forget about them) and that didn’t help either. Even with the reminder postcards we still had people that didn’t respond and came anyway. I don’t understand why people won’t send the RSVP which means to respond either way. Everyone has given a party so they should know that people need a head count to plan and prepare so I think it’s very rude. Also I can’t begin to tell you how many people RSVP two weeks or more after the due date – I think that is rude to think you can send the card back at anytime. Come on people send those RSVP cards on time- you have a stamp so how much does it take to drop it in the mail? You would want the same respect if you were giving a party.

  55. susan veronesi

    I recently hostessed a jewelry party, the jewelry was fantastic and each invited guest received a small booklet with some of the jewelry choices. I received 2 RSVP out of 32 invitations sent! So rude… I spent half of a morning calling the people so i could determine how much food to make! The woman who said ” Did you ever think you are just loading people who are so busy with one more burden when you invite them to an event”? I have this to say in reply to her… it takes 30 seconds to make a phone call to RSVP…BE CONSIDERATE, GROW UP, BE RESPONSIBLE, PUT YOURSELF IN THE HOSTESS”S POSITION! thank you!

  56. rsleeper

    I do RSVP unless I happen to forget, and I usually take a hostess gift, unless I have been asked to provide in some way for the party.
    I would say, that when a party is the vehicle for selling a product such as candles or jewelry, I think the hostess needs to give a bit of leeway regarding RSVP, for there is an agenda in inviting people, not just a desire to get together. There are some who are put off by invitations to parties that are given for the purpose of selling a product. I think the idea of people being really busy is a very great possibility for the reason behind failure to rsvp. I don’t know an answer to the problem, but I would say, that if it is practical, I don’t think it is unwise to give a kind call to those who haven’t responded to see if they are coming. Also, I wonder if soliciting a response via email would garner more complicity as so many are online these days, and a response is really just a click away….

  57. Betti

    I’m 22 from the UK and it drives me CRAZY when my friends do not RSVP, I have always loved holding parties and have done so since I was 16, but I have to explain time and time again, sometimes even to the same friends that have been to every party, that I need at least a rough idea of numbers, because how else can you plan properly?
    However, the hostess gifts thing I’m not hugely bothered by it as its not something thats really done round here (for my age group anyway) but sometimes people do bring gifts and its always welcomed. We also have a sort of unspoken rule that guests bring some food or drink to help out at the party if they want to. Especially if they want alcohol!
    I don’t know if I’ve just been brought up with more manners than my friends… I have always been accused of being ‘posh’!
    I have a Tea Party coming up in 3 weeks and so far I have 2 people confirmed, 5 declined, and 30 ‘awaiting replies’ which is incredibly frustrating!
    By the way, just discovered this site a few days ago and I love it!

  58. Melissa

    Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one experiencing the absolute frustration over the lack of people who don’t RSVP. I’m trying to organize a bridal shower for August 7th, and included my address, phone number, and email for those invited to RSVP with, and thus far I’ve gotten very few responses. I need to have a specific headcount for the venue, but right now I have no clue how many people will show up. If the party was for me, I’d scrap it as of right now. If they can’t care enough to take a few minutes to call, write, or email me, why should I bother putting all this time and effort into planning this party?!

    Another really vexing thing I’ve noticed lately, concerning the RSVP for the wedding invitations, is that few among my age group (25 -30) have the brains to either write their names on the card, or include a return address on the envelope. It’s great to know how many people are coming, but it’s also really nice to know who exactly is coming.

  59. Denise

    I try very hard to always RSVP, but am often late in doing so because I simply cannot commit until I get my work schedule set (shift work) a babysitter committed, my husband on board, etc. But I will click “unsure” on an evite to let them know that is my plan. Emailing is always easier than calling an RSVP. That being said, I HATE evites. I think it’s tacky and lazy to not take the time to write out invitations. So I always put my email on my written invites as a way to RSVP.
    Sending thank you notes is just a matter of manners or not. If you were raised right, you have stationery and stamps at home at all times and can rip off a thank you note in 5 minutes tops. Time is no excuse. My great-grandmother would stop sending birthday checks if she ever did not get a thank you. On the other side of my family, I once got a hideous letter from my grandmother ranting to me (the same letter was sent to my sisters and cousin) that we were horribly ungrateful. My great-grandfather had passed away and each of us great-granddaughters got a nice sum of inheritance. Of course, I was extremely thankful, but the giver was deceased. How was I supposed to send a thank you note to Heaven? Her thought was that we were to thank our grandfather (his son, her husband) for the effort that went into executing the will. Now that’s hard core. Since then, I send her a thank you note even if all she sends is a card. “Thank you, Grandma, for the birthday card, it was so nice.”

  60. Melissa

    To those few who said they feel “burdened” by having to RSVP – I can’t imagine you’re really THAT busy and if you are, it should clear up shortly. Your friends and acquaintances should recognize that you are too busy to respond to an invitation and so you certainly don’t have time to attend. The invitations will cease and perhaps the friendships will wither as well. THEN you’ll have time!


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