Party Invitation Etiquette for Hosts and Guests

Have you ever attended a party wherein there are more guests than chairs? How did you feel standing and having to wait to be seated? How about when there is not enough food for the guests? On a different scenario, have you ever been to party wherein there are so many tables and chairs and not enough guests? As a guest, you are probably ecstatic to have all those food for yourself but as a host, I’m sure you will be very disappointed.

Both scenarios could have been avoided if only the hosts and the guests adhered to party invitation etiquette.

The hosts and the guests have a joint responsibility in making any party a success.

Yes, you read it correctly. Both parties are expected to act in a certain kind of behavior that shows good breeding and proper conduct.

What is Etiquette?

Whether we are aware of it or not, our behavior affects other people. That is the reason why there are conventional rules or guidelines that people must follow. These unwritten rules of polite conduct is what you call etiquette.

Etiquette is all about showing kindness, respect and courtesy to the other person.

It is basically treating the other person in a way that you would like to be treated.  A cultured individual follows etiquette.


Etiquette is a code of polite behavior that people must follow.

Party Invitation Etiquette

In a social event, etiquette is more than just knowing which fork to use. There are proper rules and guidelines to be followed not just on the day itself but even long before the actual day of the party.  The do’s and don’ts start with the creation of a party invitation and should end with a thank you note or message after the party.


A good party invitation should clearly state all the information needed by the guests with regards to your party such as name, date, time, venue, theme and dress code. It is important that you also include an RSVP with a response date.


RSVP simply means ‘please respond’.


An RSVP is a request from the host asking the guests to inform them if they will be able to attend the party or not.  RSVP is actually an abbreviation of the French phrase “respondez s’il vous plait”.  In English, it means “please respond”.  By asking the guests to RSVP, as host you will be able to better plan your party.

Before sending your invitations, make sure you have a guest list numbered by order of importance. If the food and venue can only accommodate 50 persons for example, then invite only fifty.  Do not invite more than that.

The next thing you do is to wait for responses. It is acceptable to call guests who did not respond by the response date to ask them whether they will be attending or not. Once you have the number of guests who will not be able to attend, you can now send a second batch of invitation from your guest list to fill the space of those not attending.  Your RSVP response date should give you enough time to do that.


Once you received an invitation, notify the host right away.

If you are invited to a party, don’t wait until the last minute to inform the host on whether you will be able to attend or not.

In this way, the host will have a chance to invite other guests. If you are apprehensive about giving your regrets for fear of disappointing the host, believe me when I say that the host will appreciate your honesty better.

If you are still not sure if your schedule will permit it, then do inform the host that you have received the invitation and ask whether it is an imposition to wait until you are sure about your schedule.

If you have already sent an RSVP that you will be attending the event, you are now compelled to go. In the same way, if you have given your regrets, it is now rude to show up without informing the host first.

The whole logic behind this is that, in a party, costs are computed per head. Normally, the host will finalised the head count with the caterer at least a week before the party. So, whether you show up or not, the host will have to pay for your food.

Unless it is really unavoidable, don’t under any circumstance ask permission to bring a guest. Remember, the host will be paying for every person that will attend the party.  There is a probability that the host can only afford to pay for a limited number of guests.  By agreeing to your request, the host will be giving up a slot that is supposed to be intended for a person on the guest list. On the other hand, declining your request might lead to an awkward conversation about the budget and expenses. Instead, tell the host the reason why you won’t be able to attend and that you have company at the time of the event. It is now the host’s prerogative to request their presence too.

Bringing uninvited guests to a party is an absolute no-no.

Unless explicitly stated in the invitation, don’t attend a party empty-handed. It is customary and good manners to bring a gift for your host. The gift can be just a simple token, flowers or simply a card. It does not need to be expensive. It is a great way to show your gratitude for the invitation.

Guests must follow the dress code.

It is also important that guest must adhere to the dress code. For example, not only is it rude to go to a black tie event wearing casual clothes, you might also only end up being out-of-place.

Another important reminder is to not order more food and drinks than what was provided by the hosts. For sure, the hosts had already put a lot of thought on the menu.  If you are not satisfied with the banquet, keep it to yourself. Don’t give any unnecessary remarks unless the host ask for your opinion. If you are still not full, by all means, eat or drink elsewhere after the party.

Remember also to stash all electronics. It is not good manners to continue using your cellphone while in front of other people especially while eating. If you are expecting an important call, excuse yourself and leave the table and talk somewhere private.

Lastly, as soon as you get home after the party, proper etiquette dictates that you send a thank you message to the host.

When both the host and guests cooperate and follow proper etiquette, then you will surely have a wonderful party.


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