Even the most experienced host or guest can find themselves occasionally flummoxed by the niceties of entertaining. If you find yourself stumped -- or just looking to win an argument -- you can probably find the answers to your etiquette questions here.
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- Q How do you handle a situation where you only want to invite a few select people from work but don’t want to hurt others’ feelings?A
If your other colleagues know you’re particularly close to one or two people at work, it’s fine to discreetly invite your close co-workers via a private, non-work email. However, if yours is a small office, it can be hard to send selective invitations without someone feeling snubbed, so it’s best to invite everyone. If you do end up being selective in your guest list, refrain from posting photos or mentioning it on social media afterwards, so that others don’t feel further left out.
The boss is a different matter. If you don’t already have a particularly close relationship, then it’s best to leave him or her off the guest list.
Electronic invitations work beautifully for bridal showers; however, if the event is extremely formal or you wish the invite to serve as a keepsake for guests, printed invitations mailed with (or without) corresponding electronic versions are a great option.
- Q Should you send shower invitations to people you know can't make it, such as people who live far away?A
People who don’t attend the shower aren’t obligated to send a gift, so it’s not selfish, but rather polite, to extend the invitation.
Since graduates tend to only be allotted a certain number of tickets for the actual ceremony, it’s perfectly understandable that only a limited number of family members and close friends receive invitations to the ceremony itself. As for the graduation party, you can invite as many or few as you like. Announcements are fine for anyone outside your circle of close friends and family.
If you’re planning to throw a party, let your guests know at least three to four weeks ahead of time; out-of-town guests should get a heads-up six weeks out. If yours will be a large affair, consider calling a local hotel to reserve a block of rooms at a discount, which will help ease the financial burden on your guests. Be sure your invitation spells out what the celebration will entail so that Grandma doesn’t travel 300 miles for a slice of pizza.
As a rule of thumb, the more formal the event, the longer the lead time should be. For example, wedding invitations should be mailed six to eight weeks ahead of time, whereas for a bar or bat mitzvah, four to six weeks ahead is plenty. Earliness is also encouraged if there’s a high chance of conflicts, such as during the holiday season when guests are likely to be invited to multiple events. For less formal affairs, such as a very casual dinner party or get-together, a heads-up of a week or two should be sufficient.
The most important information to include on an invitation is:
- Who the party is for and what the occasion is. Birthday? Anniversary?
- When the party will take place, including start and end times.
- Where the party will be held. Be sure to include the full address and location phone number, even if you think it is already known. The phone number will allow guests to get in touch with you on the day of the party in case something pops up and you can’t be reached by mobile.
- If a meal will be served, and if so, which one (lunch, dinner).
- How and by when to RSVP (10 days prior to the event is suggested for casual events; longer for more formal ones).
Also include any special notes, such as costumes, special clothing (e.g., for pool parties), type of dish to bring for a potluck, etc.
No. Unless the invitation is for a shower, referencing gifts in any way is considered inappropriate — even if it’s to ask guests not to bring them. Also, people are so accustomed to bringing gifts that many will do so anyway, which means that those guests who heed your direction will feel awkward to arrive empty-handed. If people inquire about gifts, you may direct them to make a charitable donation in your name, but otherwise, accept that there will be presents and accept them with grace.
Electronic invitations have become increasingly acceptable for all manner of events, from birthdays to bridal showers. There are digital services that offer electronic invitations that have no advertising and look extremely similar to the real thing. (Evite Postmark is one such service that we are proud to offer.) However, there is always a place for paper invitations for milestone and formal occasions, such as weddings, and events for which invitations may serve as keepsakes, such as Sweet Sixteens. In the end, the decision is up to you, but keep in mind that the invitation is the first impression a guest has of the event, so choose your invitation design and format with care.
The traditional way to indicate who is invited to an event is to write only the names of the invitees on the invitation envelope. Evite invitations allow you to specify how many guests are invited on the invitation and indicate whether or not guests are welcome to invite others; when you’re creating your invitation, check out Guest Options at the bottom right of the page. Chose an invitation that clearly reflects the level of formality of the event, and feel free to gently spread the news via word-of-mouth (“Everyone is really looking forward to a night away from the kids!”). If someone RSVPs for more people than were invited, you are well within your rights to contact that person and gently inform him that due to space or budgetary constraints the invitation was meant only for the person or persons to whom it was addressed. If a guest arrives at your door with children in tow, be gracious and accept that these things sometimes happen when you entertain. Whatever you do, do not state “Kids not included” or any other negative message on the invitation.
Gift registries are appropriate for weddings, bridal showers, and baby showers. For showers, it is appropriate — and encouraged — that registry information be included on a separate slip of paper to be enclosed with the invitation.
As soon as you possibly can, but a guest shouldn’t wait more than two weeks to receive their thank-you for a smaller affair. If you’re writing a thank-you note for a wedding gift, then you have up to three months to mail out your thanks. Miss your deadline? Better late than never!
Yes. Your guests will appreciate knowing what sort of refreshments will be available at your event, and you’ll be more accurate in estimating food and drink quantities if you give your guests a heads-up as to what to expect.