Manners & Misdemeanors

Is the RSVP Obsolete?

This and many other revelations from a recent survey on people's party-going habits.
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It would be easy to blame the usual array of suspects: Facebook, cell phones, millennials. But regardless of what (or who) is responsible, it turns out that we are far laxer these days about making a firm commitment. When we receive an invitation, it has become far too easy to hit the nebulous "maybe" button.

In fact, many adults are eschewing the tradition of RSVP'ing altogether. A new poll out from the Salonniere, which asked just over 1,200 men and women about their party-going habits, reveals that 38 percent of adults often ignore the request to RSVP to a party. And of the respondents who do RSVP, 20 percent intentionally wait until the last possible minute to let the host or hostess know if they are coming.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents copped to sneaking a peek in the host's medicine cabinet, 12 percent revealed they had hit on someone else's date, and 33 percent acknowledged sneaking out of a party to avoid seeing someone.

Etiquette experts won't look kindly on this newfound informality. The 19th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette spells it out simply: "Always reply to all invitations, no matter how informally extended." But the move away from the RSVP is just one example of America's changing social practices. For better or worse, 63 percent of party-goers said they don't generally bring a host or hostess gift and just 15 percent said they send a thank you note or email after the event.

Some survey takers confessed to more serious offenses. Thirty-eight percent of respondents copped to sneaking a peek in the host's medicine cabinet, 12 percent revealed they had hit on someone else's date, and 33 percent acknowledged sneaking out of a party to avoid seeing someone. And even worse than an Irish goodbye? Six percent admitted to stealing from the host.

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I suppose when compared to actual theft, a crime against good etiquette doesn't look half bad.

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Caroline Hallemann
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