Sunday, July 31, 2016

The great RSVP debacle

I love to plan parties. Honestly, if I planned every party I thought of, I would be broke and my house would be in a perpetual Gatsby-esque state of recovery. For me, though, half of the fun is planning. I find delight in looking for ideas, coming up with crafts, outlining a menu and day dreaming about how the event will culminate.

I have been working on my son's first birthday party since he was about 3 months old. We're throwing it in a private party room... at a bar/restaurant... and there will be kid-friendly activities as well as adult-friendly food and a case of champagne. We don't want people to bring him gifts-- goodness knows we spoil him enough-- we want people to come toast with us and delight in our awesome little man and how amazing it is that we kept him alive and healthy.

But now I have reached a conundrum. It is the conundrum of my usual variety... I can't decide if I am being ridiculous or not. I am finishing up the invitations (so I can sit and get all antsy to mail them for the next two months). There is the "definite" stack, and then a handful of invites that I am on the fence about sending.

Are these people I am not sure we are close enough with to justify inviting them? Nope.

Are these people that live far away and will not be able to make it so I am worried about looking like a gift grubber? Nope... remember, no gifts.

Are we at capacity in the room and I am worried about a crowd? Nope. We have plenty of space.

These are the people that never f*ing RSVP.

Sound harsh? Allow me to explain.

A week before my bridal shower, I was swamped with full time work, part time teaching, and wedding planning. I got a very polite email from one of my bridesmaids asking for phone numbers for a handful of women that were on the invite list for the shower. Seems that the restaurant needed the final head count and these women hadn't replied. I didn't think anything of it and send the numbers, though I did grimace that they needed 8 phone numbers for a guest list of 24. But hey, I have forgotten to RSVP to things myself. Shit happens. Everyone gets a pass now and then.

But then there was the much longer list of people who didn't send back their response for the actual wedding. OK, shit happens, but this one had a self-addressed stamped envelope. And most people are aware of how catering and seating charts work, right? So, again, one week before the wedding I was calling people to see who was coming, and noticed some recurring names.

Then there was my baby shower, and the same meek request from a planner for some phone numbers. That one was at my house, so I was surprised we needed to follow up. Yes, they had to plan food, but how big a difference could one or two non-responders make if they showed up? Except it was more like 10 non-responders, and the difference between planning food for 15 and food for 25 actually is kind of substantial. And again, some of the same names...

There have been other events in between. Every year, my sister and I have a ladies' brunch in August. Two years ago, six of us stared at each other around a table for 10 after four people said they would come but then didn't. Last year fourteen of us crammed around a table for 10 because several people never responded but then came. This year we moved it to my house to lower our stress level about it.

Every time we plan something, I talk to myself in advance and make a self-promise to not get annoyed. I know some people just don't respond. A few isn't that big a difference. Except its rude. And that pisses me off.

Again, shit happens. I do not judge people who miss a response deadline here and there, or accidentally deleted that evite. I have missed RSVPing for things. But this is not the norm for me, it is the exception. However, if the same name was in every "follow up because he/she didn't RSVP" list for every major event in my life for the last five years, then it isn't a "shit happens" thing. It's the norm. And it is not a personality quirk- "oh you know me, I can never remember to do that on time." It's inconsiderate.

And so here I sit, with a small stack of envelopes addressed to people that I love, even though this particular behavior really bothers me. I am torn. I want to celebrate with these people and don't want any hurt feelings if one person gets invited but someone else doesn't.


The fall is busy for me at work, plus I am teaching part time. I will be slammed in October. We have to order food for this party, and thus can't have a margin of error as big as this stack. Do I just swallow my annoyance and know that I will have to work in some time to follow up with these people because I know they won't reply? Or is it fair to exclude someone based on past inconsideration?

Am I being ridiculous?

Also, question 4- is not getting invited to a first birthday party really some kind of consequence, or will these people feel they dodged a bullet? But remember this party really is a pretense for day drinking...

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