Oh the holidays… the time of year for celebration and get-togethers. Since all gatherings are not created equal, this can create misunderstandings. Set the stage for a successful gathering by indicating what’s expected and what to expect in the invitation.
- Verbal or written? Although the hand written invitation is a nice touch and is still considered the most formal, invitations may also be verbal or emailed. Just be consistent with how the invitation is presented. Don’t invite one person verbally when you have already sent out written invitations to everyone else.
- Appropriate notice please… Invite guests as early as possible. For less formal gatherings the general rule is two to three weeks. For formal parties, invitations may be sent out up to eight weeks before the event.
- When the clock strikes… Although most invitations include the starting time and the venue, many hosts neglect to inform the guests of the intended ending time. This can leave the guests unsure and the host feeling awkward.
- Who’s invited? Spouses, partners and children aren’t always on the guest list. It’s better to address this in the invitation.
- Dinner? Cocktails? Standing room only? Because the terms ‘gathering’ and ‘party’ can take on many meanings, the invitation should include information about the style of the event.
- Bring Something Please… BYOB (Bring your own bottle) and potlucks are an inexpensive way to entertain close friends and family. In the invitation, let your guests know what you would like them to bring and for how many.
- Dress…Formal? Casual? Or something in-between? Take away the guess work and the embarrassment of getting it wrong, by letting your guests know what to wear ahead of time.
- Confirm the details… Although RSVP etiquette indicates the guest should reply to the invitation by the indicated date, follow- up with your guests the week before the gathering to confirm the details.
Setting the stage with the invitation can save you and your guests from embarrassing surprises and ensure that your holiday gathering is a great success.
Kimberly Law, AICI CIP, owner of Personal Impact Image Management is a Certified Image Consultant, specializing in helping clients make the best impression possible, including personal appearance and etiquette. Sign up for Image Matters & receive FREE reports. Or learn more about etiquette in Personal Impact’s special report ‘Minding Your Manners, Everyday Matters’.