It’s three days before the big event, you’re elbow deep in hot glue gunning Disney Princess vs Dino-Roar themed craft decorations while simultaneously searching Instagram for a cake that captures Rapunzel riding Godzilla without showing an inappropriate amount of bare leg. At the back of your mind you’re wondering whether you really can entertain 13 sugar filled six-year-olds for three hours and making a mental checklist of the wine and chocolate stash you’ll need for your recovery. And then there’s the deep-seated fear that no party host is brave enough to mention.
RSVP stress is real. It’s the rechecking of invitation lists to make sure no little cherub has been forgotten. It’s the hours spent wondering if anyone will show up, and the mental energy devoted to ensuring that you’ve got enough party favours. And while we can’t take all the anxiety away from planning your kids’ perfect celebration, there are strategies that can help you deal with common RSVP challenges.
Kids parties are like precious snowflakes: every one is unique and you forget how much stuff you have to clean up afterwards. Some parties may not need an RSVP list at all. If that’s you, congratulations! You will average one less wrinkle and three less grey hairs than your fellow hosts at the end of party season!! If you’re not sure, here are a few checks to consider:
- Catering: If you are putting on a BBQ and are happy to have leftover sausages for every meal for the next week, an RSVP may not be required. If you are planning on taking advantage of the convenience that is Bento Boxes (for example) you will need to know how many meals to prepare and boxes to purchase. Bear in mind, you may also want to cater for adults dropping off (or hanging around) depending on the age of the child.
- Venue: Obviously, in the great outdoors there will be less need to know precise numbers. If you have a smaller space, or are planning an indoor soiree then its best to ask for an RSVP.
- Activities: If you are hiring an entertainer they may require numbers and may have different pricing options depending on the size of your group.
The best tip we can give you to avoid misinterpretation is to be specific. Give details of how and when you would like guests to RSVP and give more than one medium of contact.
The Sibling Scenario
If your numbers are limited you may wish to be definitive about siblings. In some instances, numbers will be restricted, and in this case its best to be forthright on the invitation to avoid misunderstandings. A simple *please note, siblings cannot be accommodated at this venue* will suffice. And yeah, most parents will roll their eyes and give themselves an internal ‘duh, who would do that?’ But there’s always one.
Just to be on the safe side, always prepare two or three extra party bags and catered meals. Just in case. Because there is always one. (And if you’re like me, you might forget someone).
Etiquette Note: On the flip side, if your child is invited to a party and you cannot organise care arrangements for siblings, be upfront. Etiquette dictates that you need to organise a friend to take your child, offer to pay for a sibling if the party is at a venue that charges per person, or at worst tell the host your child won’t be able to attend. With plenty of notice, a host may be more flexible, and may even be able to accommodate an extra child.
Look, we all have busy lives and truth be told most of us have probably let an RSVP slip through the cracks before. Not surprisingly, little Jamieson turning 4 isn’t necessarily the highest of priorities compared with school lunches, work deadlines and the Game of Thrones marathon. Its just that when it happens to us it’s an extra thing to worry about. You know, aside from running background police checks on fairy entertainers and colour coding your run sheet for the day.
You will have a better success rate if you use the Paperless Post, Evite or Smilebox; they provide simple systems for managing guest attendance. If you haven’t received an RSVP by the due date, a friendly SMS or email reminder may be in order. For example, ‘Hi Judy. I don’t think I’ve received an RSVP from Arlington for Tarquinella’s birthday. I was just checking in to see if you are able to come? We’d love to see you there. Carol.’
Most people will immediately respond to a gentle reminder, but it’s best to do it early on to allow for laggers. Life is, after all, insanely busy for most of us.
Remember, kids’ parties can be a joyful experience for parents too!