Spell Syllables
verb (used without object)RSVPed orRSVP’d, RSVPing or RSVP’ing.

to reply to an invitation:

Don’t forget to RSVP before Thursday.
nounplural RSVP’s.

a reply to an invitation:

He sent a lovely bouquet of flowers with hisRSVP.

(used on an invitation to indicate that the favor of a reply is requested).


This week, I hosted a dinner party for a group of parents from my daughter’s school. The school provided a guest list that had 31 guests on it, many of whom I did not know. I received 2o responses, and despite multiple resends of the invite and a group message, 11 people still did not respond.
In this case, the host had the option of providing the meal, or coordinating a pot luck. Since cooking is my passion, I opted to cater the event myself, with a beverage sign up sheet for wine and soft drinks. Five people signed up to contribute.
Many of the other hosts opted for potlucks, or ordered food. I am sure some of the parents thought that it was no big deal, hence their lack of response. Frankly, it isn’t a big deal to anyone other than the host of the party. Even serving hot dogs requires a head count.

I toyed with my options. Cook for the amount I knew were coming, or incur the time, leftovers and expense of covering for the extra 11 people, “just in case.” I tend to over do it when I entertain, so I knew that I would have plenty of food if a few extra dropped by, but 11 extra? I wasn’t so sure. I decided to do an antipasto table, with dips, cured meats, and roasted vegetables to start, and serve a casual buffet dinner when most of the guests arrived. That included salads, wild mushroom tarts and 7 pounds of shrimp cooked in a tomato and fennel sauce.

The doorbell started ringing promptly at 6:30. And then it stopped. Exactly 10 people came. Ten. If I had a proper headcount, I would have done things very differently. In fact, for 12 people (including ourselves,) I could have prepared a nice sit down dinner, instead of huge quantities of a vast variety of food, some of which looked like it was barely touched.

It was a pleasant evening, and I met some people who were new to the school community, and got to know a few who I only knew superficially. They were all warm, lovely guests, and I sent each one home with containers of food to enjoy at another time. I also threw away huge quantities of dishes that I felt had sat out too long to safely save, and packed up the rest. I am sure some of it will spoil before it will get eaten and end up in the garbage, due to the sheer quantity of it.

It was my pleasure to host these families, so I don’t want to appear bitter or regretful.  I am however, a little peeved that people cannot take 2 minutes to let their hosts know if they intend to come, and alert them if they have a change of plans. It’s the wastefulness that is nagging at me, not to mention the expense of preparing food for people who didn’t show up.

The solution? I don’t have one. I don’t believe in being an apathetic host and not going out of my way to provide a wonderful meal and a warm atmosphere to anyone that comes to our home. I don’t have any hints to get people to respond, as after 3 resends and a friendly reminder, I was coming perilously close to being a stalker.  I can however, use this forum to remind you dear readers, that being a good guest is as important as being a good host.

So, in case you were wondering, RSVP stands for “respondez vious sil vous plait”, which is French for “please respond.” Next time you get an invitation, please do.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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