Tis the season and I couldn’t resist re-posting this particular piece. Enjoy!
As the holidays approach, I feel this is an ideal time for all of us to take a good look at our individual image and how it rolls into personal as well as business standards. A great deal of the material I’m presenting can be credited to my grandmother, Myrtle Mae Miller and my mother, Christine Diane Gazaway. I’d also like to give credit where credit is due so let’s not forget Emily Post.
An invite will provide invitees a clear idea of the type of event being hosted. For a formal to semi-formal event, a custom invite with or without an RSVP card is highly recommended. If you do not include an RSVP card, please be sure to provide both a phone number and email address for RSVP’s as well as an RSVP by date. And for heaven’s sake, please hand address each invite. I can think of nothing worse than a mailing label on such a special invitation.
For casual to children’s parties, feel free to customize a fold over or postcard invite, perhaps something whimsical that represents the theme of the event. Making these types of cards at websites such as Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly and Mac (to name only take a few) take little more than a few fun photos, all the relevant details and maybe 30 minutes of your time. While I’m not a big fan of eInvites, they can save a great deal of time and electronically manager your RSVP list.
At the very least, read your invite and observe the tone your host / hostess has set. Do you feel you’re part of a large list of people or invited to something a little more intimate? Your interpretation of this invite is critical as it will intrinsically drive you to take the next steps which should include: checking your calendar for availability, contacting your significant other and or a date (if appropriate) to join you, planning to purchase and wrap a gift (again, if appropriate) and most importantly – RSVP.
I cannot emphasize the RSVP aspect enough, if someone has gone to the trouble to make you feel important, please take the time to respond to their invitation. If you do plan to attend, please be on time or within 15 minutes or so of the start time. If you plan to be over 20 minutes late, please let your host / hostess know in advance and give them a time to expect your arrival. Often they will wait to raise a glass for a toast, serve a meal or embark on another special part of the party until you arrive.
You always want to look your best for a party, casual or formal. Put your best foot forward, back to personal branding. If dressing for the occasion isn’t your forte, ask your significant other, a friend, family member – anyone with fashion sense in your life to help. To simplify this advice here’s a quick scenario – if you don’t have time to take a shower after the gym and decide to “pop on over” please do everyone a favor and pass on the party itself as it’s obvious to everyone (especially your host or hostess and / or honoree) that the party is not important to you.
If your host / hostess has any special requirements it should be noted within the invite. Many people are supporting charities or simply asking people not to worry about a gift, either way please take the time to read the fine print and respond accordingly. Please keep in mind, if this is a shower or engagement type of event, the host or hostess will most likely be available via email or phone to let you know whether or not the honoree is registered and if so, where. This is a quick and easy way to shop in advance (usually online) and for a little extra money a gift can be wrapped and delivered on your behalf.
As the hostess of many “no gift please” or “charitable” parties, I must admit, a gift for your host / hostess is always a kind gesture. Flowers, a candle, a nice bottle of wine – all winners (among many others) and a great way to make someone who’s been working incredibly hard to pull of a great event feel absolutely fantastic.
Speaking of feeling fantastic, the last act is the most meaningful and memorable – the thank you note.
For the record, sending an email after an event doesn’t qualify as a formal thank you for any sort of occasion above casual. A personal phone call would be nice but if you’d like to really seal the deal, write a note to the host / hostess and (now don’t fret when you read this) place it in an envelope, address, add a stamp and mail. If you don’t have nice paper to write a proper thank you note, it sounds like this is something you’ll need to add to your personal and professional repertoire, I recommend starting with Cranes – classic and elegant, always a winner.
Tis the season to make assumptions and as a professional event planner, brand manager and regular hostess, I encourage you to take pause, be considerate and most importantly – be thankful.