My daughter has been talking about her birthday for months. She wants a Star Wars cake and balloons. She wants Princess Leia party favors and a unicorn piñata. (Don’t ask.) And she wants Star Wars invitations so all her friends know where and when to meet. I, of course, am happy to oblige. I love her whimsy and obsession with all things that transpired a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But part of me is worried, as it is every year, because I don’t know who will show up.
I don’t know if anyone will show up.
Of course, I know what you are thinking: Don’t be so damn dramatic. And maybe you’re right: maybe my response is a bit paranoid. I tend to worry about the worst case scenario, but there is a valid reason why I worry. Because most years I do not receive many (or any) RSVPs.
It’s like the act has gone out of fashion. This means I don’t know if anyone will show up, or if everyone will show up.
Make no mistake: I do not blame her classmates. They are four and five and incapable of giving me an answer. (I mean, I’ve heard Chloe and Vivian are coming to my daughter’s party, but they have also planned a fictional sleepover — so I take their word with a grain of salt.) But the parents? Is it that hard to shoot me a text and say “yes, we can make it” or “no, we can’t?”
No. It’s not.
It. Is. Not.
You see, RSVP means “répondez s’il vous plaît;” in English, the phrase literally translates to “please respond.” It is a courtesy of course, a request from me to you — one which will let me know who is coming. One which will let me know how many people I will have in my event space, hall, or house. And while the lack of an RSVP may not sound like a big deal, especially for a children’s party — a small event with no appointed meals, menu, or seating — your response doesn’t just let me know you’ll be there, it let’s me know how much cake to make, how much pizza to buy, and how many small toys and glow sticks I need to shove into plastic party bags.
Besides, some years — like last year — the party is in a public venue, and (believe it or not) they need official head counts. Showing up at the last minute with an extra guest, or four, is expensive and not cool.
But the biggest problem with failing to RSVP isn’t financial, it is personal because when parents fail to RSVP, the host assumes they are not coming. And when most of your child’s friends do not respond — or respond that they cannot make it — parents worry that no one is coming, and that is terrifying. You are left wondering if you take the risk and hope a handful of kids show up, or cancel it altogether and take a different route for celebrating.
No parent wants to see tears on their kids’ party day.
That said, there are — of course — exceptions. I understand if you fail to RSVP because you are hospitalized and/or there was a sudden death in your family. Shit happens. Life happens, and I am not selfish and cold. But since these events are rare — they are few and far between — I expect most people to respond.
It takes less than a minute and almost no effort. Just freaking RSVP.
And I know, I know. I’m overthinking this again, right? Maybe, but maybe not. You see, every year there are stories shared on social media by frustrated and saddened parents whose child ended up spending their birthday alone. They got the cake, balloons, and party venue and were heartbroken to have no friends show up for their big day.
Your silence is way more disappointing than declining the invite.
So please remember that while an RSVP may take a few moments of your time, those minutes mean everything to me, my child, and her “special day.”