Growing up with a minister for a dad, we often had Sunday Dinner company, and out-of-town missionaries staying the night. When we traveled it was usually to see family or friends, and most of the time we stayed with someone we knew instead of in a hotel or motel. When friends or family were in town, they always stayed with us. I guess that is why I like to entertain. Being the guest is lovely, too!
I'm sad to see some of our gentilities slipping away so I thought I would remind us all of some holiday etiquette guidelines. Okay, I can't skirt the issue any longer. One of my biggest pet peeves is that people often no longer respond to this little accronym: RSVP. It's french: respondez, s'il vous plait, which literally translates to respond if you please, or please respond. In elementary school terms, check 'yes' or 'no'. It says to the hostess (or host), I value your effort as much as you value my company. And feel free to keep any rejection as simple as, "I'm sorry, I can't make your party." Someone actually told me once, "I'll come if I can't find something better to do that night." Well.
If circumstances change, it's wonderful to call the hostess back: "We're sorry, we won't be attending tonight, little Johnny's sick." In the event that it goes the other way, how about, "our plans have changed and we'd love to come if it's not too late." After all, she did invite you, she'd probably love to have you!
The lack of rsvping has gotten to the point that I've tried begging, reminding, even threatening - "in order to make sure we have enough hamburgers for everyone...." I'm tempted to offer a prize to the first person who replies. I'll confess, I've missed a few RSVPs myself, but I try very hard not to. Sometimes one doesn't know right away if they'll be able to attend, so try not to lose your invitation. Of course if I can make it that's lovely, and I respond as soon as I know I'll attend. There's no reason to be aloof, I'm secure in my social status, especially among friends.
This brings us to the Hostess Gift. It's not always necessary, if I'm going to a pot luck and bringing a dish I'm sharing in the effort. It is always nice, though. There's no need to be extravagant. A candle or food item can do very nicely. At this time of year with the germs going around, how about some holiday scented hand soap? It's polite to ask, "What can I bring?" when one is invited to dinner but often I find that a hostess replies, "Nothing." In that case, I usually buy flowers. I love flowers and they're a nice surprise, a little luxury for the hostess; or a nice bottle of wine, for someone who drinks wine. If one is the guest of honor, as in a bridal or baby shower, it's better to bring a gift for the hostess than a side dish!
Do you have any favorite hostess gifts to bring? I can always use new ideas.
I know I'm probably "preaching to the choir" here, no pun intended, but just in case someone out there hasn't given it any thought... I can think of several other etiquette tidbits I'd like to mention but it occurs to me that I'm attending a brunch this Saturday and haven't lined up a hostess gift, so I'm off!
Happy holiday gatherings to you!