I’m thrilled to kick of a new series here on Somethin’ Southern where we’ll be chatting about “proper” etiquette in today’s world! While the queen herself (looking at you Emily Post) would probably cover her eyes at some of the “rules” of the modern world I think it’s important for us to talk about how things are changing and what we can do to continue practicing graciousness and honor in 2019. I’ll be writing these posts not only to help y’all strengthen your relationships and exude graciousness but to remind myself of what matters and to learn alongside you! Etiquette exists not as a stuffy set of rules but as a way for us to make others feel comfortable and valued! Side note: I can’t wait to dive into Lizzie Post’s book, Manners for Today where she takes on this very subject and applies her grandmother’s rules to modern world scenarios! Have y’all read it?!
SNAIL MAIL INVITATIONS
I still 100% believe that if you’re given a paper invitation you should immediately work to respond. To me “working to respond” means communicating with my husband asap to determine whether or not we’ll be able to make it to the event. That also means immediately looking to find a sitter if needed. I like to jot down the “RSVP by” date in my planner. Note: I like to jot down the “deadline” a couple days before the host/hostesses deadline! If a friend or loved one has worked hard enough to have an invitation made, printed, and mailed out to you – they surely deserve to hear back from you in a timely manner! I’m such a stickler about this one. Life happens and things get missed (it’s happened to me too!) but responding promptly to an invitation shows respect and gratitude for the host or hostess!
Now I got to thinking about Facebook invitations. Do the same rules still apply?! Is a response to the invitation even necessary? I mean… we get SO many of these! This is a touchy subject but as always I want to be honest with y’all. A year ago I would have told you that Facebook invitations were a no-no and that they lacked thoughtfulness and intention. Now as a busy mama I completely understand the Facebook invitation! I praise the mama that works hard putting together a party for her child despite how much she has on her plate. If a Facebook invitation makes her life a little easier so that she can focus on celebrating her little one, then a Facebook invitation is perfectly acceptable! And because of that… we should treat Facebook invitations with the same kind of respect that we would a paper invitation! And the beautiful thing is that Facebook makes this incredibly simple to do. So let’s talk about the rules here. *I want to clarify first that I’m referring to event invitations for parties and small events where you have been personally invited. I am NOT referring to mass event invitations to concerts, networking events, etc.
Let’s use “Billy’s Third Birthday Party” as our example. You receive a notification that you’ve been invited to the event. You scroll through to look at the date and then just like you would with a paper invitation, you should work to respond immediately. Jot a note down in your planner or set a reminder on your iPhone to respond. Call the sitter if necessary, chat with your spouse and then make a decision. Whatever you do, don’t use the “maybe” button in the mean time! I’m very anti-maybe. It’s confusing for the host/hostess and it communicates that you’re not excited enough about the event to mark GOING. It could also communicate that you’re waiting to see if something better comes along and then you’ll make a decision about whether or not Billy’s Third Birthday Party is a worthy use of your time. If you know right away that you won’t be able to attend – message the host/hostess to thank them for the invitation and let them know that you won’t be able to attend because of _____ and that you’ll be sorry to miss it! Even better… give them a phone call! Once you’ve communicated with the host/hostess, then you can mark “NOT ATTENDING” so that the hostess can keep count of guests attending. If you will be able to attend the party I think it’s nice to check in with the hostess as well. A note to let them know you’re excited about the event or to ask about details is a great way to communicate that you’re definitely attending and looking forward to it!
Tip: You can still be creative and thoughtful with a digital invitation by sending a Paperless Post invite! You can easily customize these. I think they feel much more personal than a Facebook invitation and they’re just as easy to send out!
Girl’s nights and bible studies and play dates… lots of events are set up via text message these days! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m THE worst at texting. I’m constantly overwhelmed with emails, social media notifications and voicemails when I’m on my phone so it’s all too easy to forget to respond to a text message! When I don’t respond to a text message it communicates disrespect and makes the sender feel like they’re not a priority. Not at all what I want to do but it happens all too easily. I’m working to get better at this one so I’m putting into practice the same strategy I’ve used above! When I receive an invitation via text I will immediately work to respond. I’ll jot a note down in my planner (if it’s a text I almost always try to respond within a few hours) but I try to communicate with the sender right away. Saying something along the lines of “Girl’s night sounds like so much fun! I just texted my husband to make sure he’ll be home early that night. I will let you know if I can make it as soon as I hear back from him! Thanks for the invite!” communicates that you’ve heard from them and you care enough about the invitation to immediately work toward a response. This small communication will make the sender feel valued. *I do think it’s important to remember that communicating clearly via text is tough so we need to give each other lots of grace in this area!
Tip: You’re much more likely to respond quickly to a text message if the sender can see that you’ve read it! I turned my iPhone “read receipts” on to help hold me accountable to responding promptly! If you’re brave enough to try this out – simply go to SETTINGS, then MESSAGES, and then toggle “SEND READ RECEIPTS” to allow the feature.
Now one last note about RSVPs to parties and gatherings. The day of the even the host/hostess should not be paralyzed with fear that every guest he/she has invited is now backing out! Goodness that’s the worst! An RSVP is a commitment to attend the event – so unless an emergency has come up DO NOT BACK OUT. Attend the party! Have fun! Express gratitude! If it’s a child’s part I think this rule applies twice over! Nothing tugs on my hear strings like hearing about a child’s birthday party that wasn’t well attended!
I know this topic and some of my thoughts regarding RSVP’s may be a little offensive to some but I truly believe that proper etiquette and a clear set of rules will help us all communicate love and respect! My intention is not to hurt anyones feelings!
love y’all! mckenzie