Does RSVP still mean what it means?

Today, Tom has asked one of his most trusted female friends to offer advice on interpreting invitations.

RSVP. Precisely what does this mean? In the 21st Century we too often mistake this acronym as “respond only if you are coming.” The long version of RSVP is répondez s’il vous plaît which translates as “Reply Please” or “Please Respond.” Could it be that a lack of response may be felt as an insult to the efforts of the host? He or she deserves the courtesy of, at a minimum, knowing how many and who to expect. “Common courtesy is to give a response within 48 hours after receiving an invitation.” Receiving a less formal invite via social media, i.e. Evite, Facebook, still requires a response.

A second all-too-common social faux-pas is improper arrival time etiquette. For example, a “dinner party” may be mistaken for a relaxed social gathering, allowing you come and go as you please. However, if the party planner specifies a time to be seated, your dinner will be cold and the party planner might be slightly annoyed if you show up late. For other gatherings, it is important to know the nature of the event because showing up too early may cause the host or hostess inconvenience or added stress. Not only does he or she have to continue to prepare but will also feel obliged to entertain the early arrivers. Who really wants to be an annoyance during the holiday season?

Lastly, is it appropriate to show up empty handed? The invitation will likely allude as to whether you should bring a bottle of wine or some other food item. You should act accordingly. Remembering what most of us learned in our youth or college years, to repeatedly mooch is a sure path to “no more invitations “. Consideration and contribution are always appreciated and properly rewarded. That lovely law of reciprocity is for real. “So long as you endeavor to treat others as you would be treated, you already have the most important part down.”

Good advice to be sure. Whether as a host or guest…

Enjoy the season,

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