You’re invited! Receiving and Responding Properly to Invitations

We’ve all been invited to someone’s home for a dinner party, cocktails or other type of occasion. Aside from all of the planning and work involved on the part of the party-giver, there are certain things which we should observe to not only show our respect and appreciation for their inviting us, but also to demonstrate that we are good guests- worthy of the invite and being invited again in the future.

Generally an invitation is made either by phone or by mail. An invitation by mail will generally have the familiar RSVP with a date. RSVP is an abbreviation for répondez s’il vous plaît which is French for “please respond”. We must be certain to honor that date and give either our regrets or acceptance no later than that date. In fact, it is proper to respond to an RSVP immediately if we know for certain whether we can or cannot attend. We shouldn’t wait until the last minute. The host or hostess will need to be sure to prepare for the number of guests who will be attending.

When the date of the occasion arrives, it is not polite to come too early as the host/hostess will most likely be preparing and will not be ready to entertain us. Instead, we should arrive on time or within the first fifteen minutes of the time stated in the invitation.

We will not want to arrive empty handed, either. When invited to someone’s home, be sure to arrive with a small gift or something which can be shared with the other guests. A nice gift to bring could be a bottle of wine or, perhaps, a box of fine chocolates for the lady of the home. If we are going to dinner at a good friend’s home, we may choose to bring a dessert or side dish. Either way, it need not be anything large or ostentatious. It merely is a show of gratitude and appreciation to our host or hostess for the work and preparation of the evening.

As the evening draws to a close, our hosts will most certainly be tired. Rather than being the last person to leave and possibly keeping the hosts up late, take note of their demeanor. If they appear tired or show signs of looking at the clock, take that as a hint and begin to say your goodbyes. Our hosts will greatly appreciate our not keeping them up all hours of the night. As much as they may enjoy our company- which is why they invited us in the first place- they will enjoy it even more of we leave at an appropriate time. Beside, when one guest gets ready to leave, that will usually start the others to do likewise.

The day after, be sure to either call or write a Thank You note to the hosts to thank them for the lovely time. A great deal of work goes into entertaining people. The preparation starts long before the actual day. Decisions must be made as to the menu, the décor, the drinks and the dessert. A host will usually spend the night before and the entire day of the dinner preparing every aspect of the evening so that their guests feel welcomed and comfortable. Therefore, the part we each play as guests has a great deal to do with the good time had by all. After all, we would hope to expect the same from others when we entertain friends at our home.