Sorry to bombard all of my faithful readers with so many parenting-related blogs but that just so happens to be what’s on my mind these days. (Would you rather I get back to talking about TV and shopping? Let me know in the comments!)

As I mentioned in my last post, my son’s first birthday is coming up in less than a month! In somewhat perfect timing, the May issue of Parents has a focus on birthday parties. Our little guy tends to get a tad overwhelmed in big crowds so we’re keeping it quite small – just grandparents and aunts and uncles. Still, I thumbed through the section on how to throw the “Best. Birthday. Ever.”

InvitationIn particular, Jancee Dunn’s article, “How to make them RSVP: Clever ways to get a freaking answer,” caught my eye. Having planned a wedding and thrown a few bridal and baby showers for friends, I am no stranger to the frustrations of no-reply guests. A Parents poll found that 82 percent of parents did not hear back from all their guests and, according to feedback gathered from Parents’ Facebook page to the question “What’s the hardest thing about planning a birthday party?”, RSVPs are the most niggling.

“A very vocal majority said RSVPs. To be sure, it creates anxiety for the host, both social (What if no one attends?) and financial (What if I shell out for 10 and 20 show up? Or shell out for 20 and 10 show up?).”

The article goes on to offer a few tips for improving response rates.

  • Include something like a balloon or sticker with the invitation.
  • Personalize each invitation with a note to the invitee.
  • If sending an e-vite, follow up with a reminder e-mail to RSVP.
  • Give plenty of notice.
  • Hand-deliver invitations.
  • Have a B list ready in case of copious declines.


RSVP-ing seems like such a simple thing to do in the digital age (Isn’t it so much easier to say no over e-mail than over the phone?) yet nearly everyone has experienced this frustration. It makes you wonder if it’s the same 18 percent of people who fail to respond to every event or if, perhaps, some of those who are bothered by nonresponses are guilty of them as well!

I’m ashamed to admit I fall into the latter category. There are times when responding to an invitation simply slips my mind but there are other times when I feel so bad about not attending (I hate saying no, even over e-mail!) that I just don’t do it. Oops.

Are you a good RSVP-er? If not, why not? Does the RSVP process bother you as much as it does the Parents survey respondents? Do you see these habits when sending out survey invitations? Certainly researchers have also found that incentivizing respondents is a way to increase engagement, although I’d suggest offering something a bit more practical than balloons and stickers. Could researchers benefit from the above tips to improve response rates or are they already common industry practices?