You might have seen the People.com story in which a 5-year-old is given an invoice for missing a friend’s birthday party that he had previously said he would attend. Read it here:
While I think that might be extreme, there have been times with kids parties in my life, where you get 14 RSVPs and 8 show up, yet you’ve paid for the 14. I’ve also had the opposite more often than not: 8 say they are coming and 14 show up, making Blazer Tag a bit annoyed as they scrambled for a bigger room and leaving me embarrassed that I seemed not so organized.
I try to RSVP for my children realistically, but I’m going to tell you there are three basic scenarios that cause us to fail miserably:
I find the invitation on the day of in the bottom of a child’s backpack.
My child lets me know the day of now that they are older and there’s no written invitations.
My child believes with all her heart that she’s going to the party, but then ends up having a bad arthritis day and she can’t get out of bed. Or in the case of my son, there’s puking that day, why? Why not?
Jacqueline Whitmore, a etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, offers these tips to help your child be 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.