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I love planning my kids birthday parties. I wouldn’t say that I go “all out” but I always make sure to put a lot of thought, time and effort in to ensuring it’s a memorable day for my kids. Being that both my kids are school-aged, we’ve our fair share of birthday party experiences. Most great… but there is one detail that makes me cringe and angry-vent-rant every single year.

THE RSVP… or lack thereof.

Parents, if you have ever just assumed that not responding means that you are saying “no”, then smack yourself upside the head now.

Sorry if that sounds rude but… wait, no, I’m not sorry. I know you are busy. I’m busy as well and on top of everything else, I’m planning a Barbie-extravaganza. I need to purchase loot bags, plan games, make food and order the cake… as much as I love having to wait until the last possible moment to buy half the stuff because I have no idea how many kids are actually going to show up, I am at a loss about where the common-courtesy of the RSVP fell flat?

I’ve ranted before about this online and there’s always the parents who have an excuse. Usually it’s about being SOOOO busy they just couldn’t possibly find 5 minutes in the 2 full weeks from when I sent the invitation to the party date. Sorry but I don’t buy it. Yes, I don’t know you. I don’t know your life. However, on my invites, I offer the option to call, text or email. The majority of us have some sort of cell phone. Send me a text while you are on the toilet (you do poop, right?). Email me during your lunch break. Call me while your child is doing their homework in between begging them to just focus on that one last line of printing homework. I could make a list but I think you know where I’m going with this. We are all busy. Somehow everything else gets done and you still know what happened on Real Housewives last night but you couldn’t be bothered to take 2 minutes to send a text.

I have a theory for why RSVP’s don’t happen as often as we’d like:

  •  SCHEDULES: People really dislike committing to much. A better offer might come along, or you have yet to RSVP to that other event you were invited to on the same day and are procrastinating having to make a decision.
  • YOU SIMPLY FORGOT: It’s easy to intend to RSVP to every invitation but then you simply forget. The invite comes home and it ends up in a pile of school newsletters, Hot Lunch forms and Scholastic flyers.

Then there are those who RSVP at the last minute. I mean, I’m really glad your kid can make it but did you really not know until 12 hours before the party? (I will assume either of above). My son’s last birthday, we rented the local skating arena so I allowed him to invite “as many kids” as he’d like. He sent out 40 invitations, including his entire class, his hockey team and some other friends. 24 hours before the party started, we had received a total of 12 answers (counting both yes and no). So what am I to do? I have to plan loot bags and food/drinks. I need to ensure I have a few adults who will be on the ice to help me supervise. I plan the party based on 10 children because that’s how many Yes’ I received. Then within the final 24 hours, the RSVP’s begin to flood in. Not all of them, but enough to cause me some major panic. One of the new Yes RSVP’s came in just 2 hours before the party started – and he asked if he could bring one of the siblings! In the end, we had 22 children at the party, more than double than I was expecting. Someone told me I should have just said no to all those last minute RSVP’ers. I guess that’s an option. I just don’t feel like that would be fair to my son who will undoubtedly hear about how his mother told his friends they couldn’t come.

In the end, my son had a fantastic party and that’s all I wanted. But damn people, a simple yes or no goes a long way! If in doubt, RSVP Yes and then cancel at the last minute. While it’s not ideal, it’s better than no RSVP at all and having to run out 10 minutes before the party to buy another loot bag.

In the end, the point I am trying to make is that RSVP’s are NOT OPTIONAL, even if the answer is No. And if you do forget until the last minute, don’t tell the host that you were “too busy”. Be honest. My daughter’s birthday party is in 2 days and of course I’m still missing 1/2 the RSVP’s. Last night however, I received a refreshing phone call from a parent who admitted to having put the invitation on her fridge with the intent of calling me and she simply forgot. While a late RSVP is still not ideal, I wanted to hug her through the phone for her honesty.

So to finish, I will share with you some of my tips that I think each and every parent should follow:

  • Respond the day you get the invitation.
  • If for some reason you cannot respond the first day you receive it, set an alarm on your phone or pick a day that you know you can respond by and write it in your day planner or calendar (preferably more than 24 hours before the party). Find a way to remind yourself.
  • If you know you are not the type of person who can successfully do the above suggestion, go back to the first suggestion and just respond on the day you get the invitation with a NO. There, you’ve made a decision. Now pat yourself on the back.

Ya, that’s all I’ve got. Really it just comes down to common courtesy and making the act of the RSVP more important in your mind than it currently is.

I think next year I’ll just skip the party and hand my kids the money I would have spent on it. 😉  oh who am I kidding? You can’t play Pin The Tail On The (insert popular character here) all by yourself with a wad of cash. 😉

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Jenn Perry

The author Jenn Perry

Entrepreneur, Child-Wrangler and Domestic-Goddess-Wannabe, Jenn is a married, mother of two. She is also the founder of That's So Social and Editor in Chief of Travel Mavens. Likes: travel, eggs benedict, yoga pants, dogs, and Netflix.