Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
I’m trying to come up with some sort of question in something resembling eloquent English about holiday parties and invitations and respecting RSVP and how do you handle roommate/friends/family invites. Also, if you have multiple invites (lucky child) what is a good way to decline or accept or whatever. You covered parts of this in your “RSVPs are for real, yo” thing, which people know for weddings, but tend to forget/be more lax about when it comes to holiday dinners and then if no one shows, boy your friends are jerks and now you have an entire turkey and a vat of creamed corn and it’s just sad. But basically, if your friend invites you to a holiday dinner first but then your brother invites you, does family trump friends? If your roommates parents have invited you to dinner 8 times and it hasn’t worked out, at what point do you make that plan a priority over all other plans? Help.
I Don’t Know Where I’m Going
You still have to let people know if you are or are not coming to everything you are invited to. Especially holiday dinners. Etiquette has no say about where you go, you have to make that choice for yourself.
Jaya: This is one of those times where I wish I were a kid again. When you’re a kid you just go where your parents go. No need for decisions.
Victoria: Yeah, I guess it’s lucky in a way that I don’t have close-by family, so my sister and I just hang out at home and make some food and watch some movies on Thanksgiving. And I just go to my parents’ house for Christmas. But I think we are in agreement that your family trumps friends for holidays. If someone invites you, you just say, “I’d love to but I have to do family things, so sorry.”
Jaya: I think in general yes, but also, everyone’s family is different. My mom has always said if I wanted to do Christmas with friends or just go on vacation elsewhere, it would be totally fine. But we’re pretty lax about holidays in general. Divorce does that. So just, know your audience.
Victoria: I mean, family trumps if you want to/it’s important to hang out with your family.
Jaya: If you know it would mean a lot to your friend, and your family is cool without you, then go hang out with your friend.
Victoria: I guess by trumps I meant more like, if you can’t come to a friends house for a holiday because of a family thing, they should understand.
Jaya: Oh yeah, definitely.
Victoria: But then again, you don’t really owe anyone an explanation for why you are or are not able to come.
Jaya: Right, but I think it’s understood for holidays that you may have family obligations. But also, even if it is your family, you should give a firm RSVP.
Victoria: Totally! Especially if its not JUST your parents.
Jaya: If you tell your mom the day before that you’re not coming, then that screws them. And even if it is just your parents, that might mean your parents are having dinner alone!
Victoria: Ahhh yeah! So sad (though maybe not if you have siblings). Your single child privilege is showing, JAYA
Jaya : Oh yeah, cause that’s a privilege. WORRYING ABOUT YOUR PARENTS EATING ALL ALONE ON CHRISTMAS. Showing your sibling-ed naivite, Victoria.
Jaya: Let’s talk about for situations with multiple RSVPs.
Jaya: There is something that I’ve been dealing with recently. If you know about one event first, but don’t receive a physical/official invitation to it until after you’ve been invited to something else on the same day, which do you go to?
Victoria: Okay, so the rule about RSVPing is not that you go with the one you were INVITED to first, you go to the one you RSVPd yes to.
Victoria: So if you get two invitations before you have a chance to respond to one, you get to choose!
Jaya: Good to know!
Victoria: You just can’t change your RSVP to, “I got a better offer.”
Jaya: Though what if you RSVP’’d to one event and your sister all of a sudden decides to get married. I mean it sucks but people would probably understand?
Victoria: That’s why I really like save the dates for weddings, or sending out invitations for other events on the early side. But in that case, it’s basically a family emergency, as long as it’s not the day before or something.
Jaya: Also your sister is annoying in that case.
Victoria: So she also asks about prioritizing an event you’ve had to reschedule like, 8 times, and I definitely think after a couple of reschedules, you should pretty much drop everything to make it happen- if its important to you to have dinner with your roommate’s parents, or whatever the situation is. Otherwise, you end up looking really flaky, which is not a good look.
Jaya: Right, especially if it’s been your “fault” every time. Though if you’ve rescheduled a bunch because you just don’t want to do it, maybe just come out and say that.
Victoria: And if you are flaking to get out of doing it, then maybe just own up to it. But in general, just try to make things a priority the best you can, and stick to your RSVPs whenever they require action on the host’s part.
Jaya: Whether that’s cooking you Thanksgiving dinner, saving you a seat at a wedding, or telling a bartender how many people you’re bringing.