To RSVP or not to RSVP; that is the question.

RSVP is an acronym for ‘Respondez, S’il Vous Plait’ which translates directly from French to: ‘Please Reply’.

What it does not translate to is any one of the following:

• No need to respond and if you have nothing better to do on the day in question, just turn up.
• It’s OK to bring 6 people with you without letting the host/hostess know.
• Reply that you’ll be coming then don’t let the host/hostess know at the last minute that you got invited to something better, so you won’t be coming.
• Don’t bother responding at all if you know you can’t make it.
• Wait until 24 hours before the event to respond so you can keep all your options open.
• Lay a guilt trip on the host/hostess at the last minute by saying you can only come if you can bring the houseguests you have with you that you’d forgotten to mention when you responded 4 weeks ago.

Of course, unavoidable stuff can come up at the last minute which means you won’t be able to attend when you’ve already said you would; any reasonable host/hostess understands this – but is it too much to ask that if you receive an invitation to an event that requires a RSVP, you do exactly that? It is the polite thing to do.

There are some simple reasons for this; first, how would you like to invite 50 people to your home for a party which you went to great expense to have catered, only to have 25 people turn up? Or perhaps you love to cook and entertain, so you’ve spent several days preparing delicious food to honor the 15 guests who’ve RSVP’d they’d be coming, only to have them bring along a gaggle of friends and family members which means you now have to perform a miracle of biblical proportions by stretching that modest-sized poached salmon to feed 34. Hosting an event should not be this stressful – it should be a joyful sharing of good food and companionship.

I suppose there is one way to avoid such a demand of our unselfish selves’ altogether and that would be to only ever host open-house-pot-luck-sort-of-gatherings, where the invite suggests that you don’t really mind whether your invitees come or not but if they do turn up, they should bring their own food and drink. Even then, surely it’s only polite to let the host/hostess know what you’ll be bringing. Have you ever been to a pot-luck where the food consisted almost entirely of supermarket boxed cookies, 2 gallons of salsa, a bowl of potato chips and weird beer?

Where I come from, inviting someone round for a ‘pot-luck’ meal means that the host/hostess will feed you whatever they can rustle up at the last minute, so don’t expect anything grand or formal. I was shocked to realize how this got lost in translation when I attended my first pot luck dinner in the US armed with nothing more than an inedible orchid for the hostess, only to be greeted with “What food did you bring?”

I dunno – call me old fashioned but I like nothing more than to invite people to my home who’ve all previously confirmed they’re coming, then feed them on something I’ve prepared; introduce interesting folks to one another, enjoy some fun, stimulating conversation and if guests bring me flowers, a bottle of wine or some small token of appreciation, that’s really lovely.

Let’s reclaim civilization!

BTW – please don’t forget to forward this blog link to anyone you know who might enjoy reading my regular comments.

Until next time, then. jm

About edibletcetera

I'm a passionate foodie who cooks, photographs, eats - then writes about it; an occasional restaurant critic; former newspaper columnist; author; social media/marketing communications; world traveler; dog lover; skier...and wit, (according to those who know me).
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One Response to To RSVP or not to RSVP; that is the question.

  1. Maggie says:

    Not sure what I can do about formally inviting people to a meal, because half my friends can’t read !! Ha ha,
    When I first moved to Leeds, I invited some people round for a meal, and they were completely bemused by it all, had never been invited for a meal at a friend’s house, I presume.. but that’s what its like ooop North, and the first time I decided to share a Chinese take-away with the friend I was sharing a house with, and asked her what she wanted, she asked for chips with curry (pronouunced kerry) sauce. A few times later, she had advanced further into the take away menu, as she had become a little more adventurous and asked for deep fried and battered onion rings to go with the chips and kerry sauce. Nuff said !!

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