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For the Love, RSVP to the Birthday Party Already!

Ahem. I’ll try to say this nicely: Why on earth did so many people stop RSVPing to birthday parties?!

Some of you are nodding in agreement or shouting AMEN at your screens. You understand that parties take much planning and money, so it’s important to know how many people to expect. Furthermore, it’s an act of genuine kindness to believe my child’s birthday and feelings matter enough to offer up some sort of acknowledgment that there is indeed a celebration to which you have been invited—even if you can’t attend.

Now, for the non-RSVPers. Oy, y’all. I know life is busy. You’ve got other stuff to think about. I tell my husband all the time that there is only so much room in the human brain and between the kids and work and family and sanity, I am bound to miss something. I just fear that RSVPs are becoming too commonly missed for everybody’s well-being. It’s one thing to forget to move the laundry and wrinkle your nose at the distinct aroma of mildew. It’s another to habitually do things that have a negative consequence for other people.

And look: if you are pregnant or have a young child who still wakes you up at 2:00am, I really do understand. I commiserate. I have been you far too frequently. In fact, when I told my husband this topic, he gave me the side-eye because it’s been one of those years where I’m putting random items in the fridge that do not belong there. I do not have my stuff together. 

But I hear a lot of explanations for why people don’t RSVP. So here’s a quick guide for RSVPing to help you out.

“I meant to RSVP, but I forgot.”

You’re not going to like the solution here, but it’s pretty simple. Just don’t forget. At the heart of an RSVP is a relationship and act of kindness extended toward another person. That’s worth remembering. Do you already know the answer to the RSVP? Take 60 seconds and reply immediately. Nine times out of ten, this means sending a text or leaving a voicemail. Little Bobby’s mom doesn’t want to spend 30 minutes on the phone any more than you do.

Don’t know the answer yet? Put the invitation somewhere where you will notice it. You will not notice it in your child’s backpack or in a pile of coupons that you’re (probably) going to eventually go through. Maybe. If you get time. Put that sucker on your nightstand next to your phone charger or lay it on top of your laptop. 

“I have phone anxiety.”

I really feel like most of us, as mothers, don’t enjoy the phone. It’s time consuming, there’s often loud stuff going on in the background, and sometimes it requires awkward small talk that can make us anxious. What are we supposed to talk about when we’ve been wiping bottoms and boogers all day or dealing with projects at work? So step one: know that they probably don’t want to be talking to you on the phone either. Go ahead and expect to get sent to voicemail, but prepare two versions to reduce your anxiety. Or just send them a text. It’s 2016. We are all putting our cell phones on invitations anyway.

Easy script:

Hi, Amy! This is Whitney, Jackson’s mom. Thanks so much for inviting us to Bobby’s party!
For yes: We will be there! I’m not sure yet if my husband will be with me, but Jackson and his little brother are very excited.
For no: Unfortunately, we already have plans that day, but I hope you have a great party.
If unsure, and it’s the deadline: Jackson would love to come, but I’m still waiting to hear about a possible family commitment so I’m not quite sure yet. If you need a head count this afternoon, go ahead and mark us as a no. I don’t want to hold you up!

For those of you who don’t have a specific reason not to go, just say you already have plans. It doesn’t matter if the plans are staying in your pajamas and watching movies all day as a family. It just matters that you provide an answer to the RSVP.

“I thought you only RSVP if you are going.”

RSVP is a request for an answer whether you plan to attend or not. If an invitation says “Regrets Only,” then it is assumed you will attend unless you call and tell them otherwise.

“I don’t know if I’ll feel like going that day.”

Just say no then. We all get over-committed and burned out sometimes. It’s okay to say no.

Bonus tip: For those of you who are throwing the party in question: Add an email address to the RSVP line or say “call or text” to get more responses. This is anecdotal, but as someone who creates party stuff, I highly recommend it.

Maybe a missed RSVP or two isn’t a big deal in your book, but consider the 5-year-old sitting at his birthday party, unsure if anyone is actually going to come. Think of his mom, standing there stressed out about the minimum of 10 kids requirement at her venue or wondering if she ordered enough pizza or too much pizza, and mostly hoping she doesn’t have to explain to her child why none of his friends could be bothered to wish him a happy birthday. That’s what’s actually at stake here. These are people, and a lack of RSVP says, “You are unimportant. Your thoughtfulness at inviting us is unimportant. Your child’s feelings are unimportant. Sorry, not sorry.” I realize that’s harsh and none of you would ever say that with your words. So please don’t say it with your actions (or lack thereof).

Did I miss any reasons you’ve heard for not RSVPing to a birthday party? Are you #TeamRSVP?

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3 Responses to For the Love, RSVP to the Birthday Party Already!

  1. Kay March 1, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

    Yes!! You are absolutely right!

  2. elizabeth warren March 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

    LOVE this.

  3. Kate March 5, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    Love it! I’m the mom that will text the non-RSVPers to get some kind of response and passive aggressively point out how rude it is not to respond. 😳

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