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Rules for invitations

I promised to include a series of posts onĀ rules for a more satisfying [modern] life. So far I’ve done posts on bicycling and drinking, and a more general post on the concept of paintballable offences. So here’s one on invitations, Rsvps and events.
In my personal experience, it has always seemed as if the advent of digital technology has made people rather dim on these things. I suspect social historians could point me to dozens of similar complaints from the past. I know myself that Miss Manners has rails against pre-stamped response envelopes in wedding invitations because they enable laziness on the part of guests, and if you give an inch of laziness, people will take a mile.
At the end of the day, of course, the technology through which an invitation is communicated doesn’t change the etiquette expected of the people involved. So here goes:
  1. Respond to invitations with a yes or no. Do so in good time.
    Especially when it comes to a dinner, numbers matter.
  2. If you say no, you don’t need to explain why, so for pity’s sake don’t lie.
    People always feel the urge to explain whey they can’t make it. That’s silly for an individual instance. If you’ve declined 3 invitations in a row, you might want to explain that you don’t hate the person. Otherwise, don’t stress it.
  3. If you say yes, only cancel if there’s a real emergency.
    A better invitation is not an emergency. Nor is a having had a long day. Man up.
  4. Going to dinner? Take a bottle of wine, but don’t expect to drink it.
  5. Only get really drunk if you have a designated chump to take care of you.
    It would be hypocritical of me to say don’t get really drunk. But do make sure you’re not going to die in a gutter. It would be so embarrassing for everyone who knows you.
  6. Show up at an appropriate time.
    This will vary according to the type of event. Show up at the stated time for a wedding. Show up 15-25 minutes after the stated time for a dinner party. Show up 30-45 minutes after the stated time for a house party. I have a large family, and these rules seem to have been passed down to all of us by our forebears. My sister hosted a brunch for me a few years ago in Seattle. ~20 cousins were joining us from many parts of the city. Everyone showed up between 10.15 and 10.25, making the whole experience wonderfully predictable.
  7. Don’t be the last people to leave.
    Unless that’s what the host expects of you.
  8. Don’t insist on cleaning up if your host objects.
  9. Send a thank you note.
    It takes 2 seconds and will make your host’s day.
That is all. They’re not difficult. We can all do them, and they’ll mike life so much more pleasant.

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