party table

Middle school was a slice of hell.

So why do so many people feel like they’re living it again?

I blame Evite.

Time was, you’d plan a party, send out paper invitations and wait for RSVPs. Not everyone “répondez s’il vous plaît,” but the majority did. You had a pretty good idea of how many bottles of wine and packs of paper napkins to buy.

Now, though … it’s middle school, baby. People either tell you they’re coming to your party, then don’t show up (a phenomenon written about by “The New York Times”); say “maybe,” then don’t show; or simply ignore you.

I confess. I’m guilty of the “maybe” sin. It’s my Midwestern upbringing, which instilled a fierce desire not to disappoint and to avoid the merest whiff of conflict.

Background aside, though, most hosts and hostesses would prefer a solid “no, thank you” to the wish-washy “maybe.” I’ve started marking anyone who checks that Evite button as a definite “no.”

But I can’t do that with the folks who say “yes,” then don’t show up. One recent client planned a cocktail party for 60 firm “yeses” on her Evite account. She paid for food to feed 60 hungry stomachs and drinks to quench 60 thirsty throats.

Thirty people showed up.

“I have trust and rejection issues anyway,” she said. “I really had to work to get my head around this.”

Still, at least those people responded. What do we do with the friends we invite who simply ignore us? Evite tells us who sees our invitations and when they view them. It’s a little too close to middle school discomfort when those folks never respond.

“They’re waiting for a better offer,” one acquaintance says.

“They forgot they saw the invitation,” another counters.

I dunno. It feels like my 15th birthday party, when I invited a slew of new (more popular) friends who never acknowledged me — or the party I wanted to give.


So what’s the solution? I’ve decided to heal myself first. No more “maybes”; a “yes” only when I truly intend to go to a party; a response within two days, maximum.

For my clients: Evite close friends only; make a phone call or send a paper invitation to acquaintances.

And for my own events? The parties I throw for myself?

Paper invites! In our family’s experience, the responses to old-fashioned, snail-mail invitations are more accurate and more timely than anything I send online.

They’re not as convenient. But they won’t throw me back to middle school.

Sorry, Evite.