April 18, 2011 in Features

Miss Manners: E-vites allow wishy-washy RSVPs

Judith Martin, United Feature Syndicate
 
On the Web

You can send questions to Miss Manners at www.missmanners.com.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – In today’s tech-centered lifestyle, almost all invitations for parties go out via Facebook or e-vite. Both sites give you the option of saying “maybe I will attend,” and often this list is longer than the “Yes” list.

With the cost of invitation cards, postage and everyone moving so much, I know that written invitations are quickly becoming a thing of the past, but is there some way to make people take online invitations more seriously?

I am trying to plan a birthday party and don’t know if 20 or 50 people are going to be showing up due to the 30 maybes on my guest list. I find this so frustrating but don’t know how to make it clear to my friends that I need a “yes” or “no” answer.

GENTLE READER – Why would you use a site that is hostile to hosts?

When people refuse to answer invitations one way or the other, they are not only inconveniencing those who have kindly offered them hospitality but also insulting them. Anything more than a day to check calendars and partners smacks of hoping for something better to come along.

Miss Manners is all too aware that the problem of hedging – and total nonresponsiveness – is not limited to electronic invitations. People who send engraved wedding invitations complain of the same. Still, electronic invitations have the appearance of being mass mailings about highly informal gatherings.

It would not be much more trouble for you to send direct emails to each friend, and even Miss Manners knows how to copy those so that they seem individually composed. You may still have to nag delinquent individuals, as you must now, but at least you will not have posted dilly-dallying as an apparently legitimate option.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I am the manager of a choral group composed of employees at my workplace. Traditionally, after a performance, we have given floral bouquets to the conductor as well as any soloists.

For one of our recent concerts (held at noon at our office building’s auditorium), the person who usually volunteers to buy the flowers bought corsages from a florist instead of bouquets.

I have never seen corsages given to performers, and I think it’s part of the “show” to give bouquets that are more easily seen by the audience. I also thought it would be a bit odd for the singers to go back to their offices and work wearing corsages. Moreover, they could have put flowers in a vase and enjoyed them for a few days, whereas a corsage has to be thrown out at the end of the day. Assuming the cost of flowers is not the main issue (although in this case, that was part of it), is handing out corsages at the end of a performance acceptable? In addition, what to do if the soloist is male?

GENTLE READER – That your volunteer purchaser was able to get a bargain because the previous night’s local high school prom was canceled is all very well – except that she gave no thought to the inconveniences you mention that she was causing the recipients. And wasn’t pleasing them the point?

The way to save money, Miss Manners suggests, is to give each musician a single rose. Even a gentleman can accept that without embarrassment and then cut the stem to make a boutonniere.


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