I Can't Even …
Sara 'Zarine' Jessop
Since last weeks subject got a little sidetracked, lets get back to it shall we? A while back I wrote an article all about how and why you should R.S.V.P., but I recently occurred to me that that I never explained to you all about the other side of that responsibility: invitations.
Now sending out invitations to a special event sounds like a simple take right? Wrong. There are all kinds of rules and obligations when it comes to requesting someones presence at your special day. Like most social precedent these rules vary by region and culture, but there are a few of them that are consistent throughout the Realms and I shall do my best to convey those to you here.
First off, only formal events require a written invitation. By 'written' I mean a physical piece of paper that was physically addressed by you and delivered via physical mail. Informal event invitations can take other forms such as Elf Mail, Argument Board postings, or just an in person conversation. “But Zarine, how do I know if my event is formal or informal...” Well, dear reader, perhaps in the future I will address such things, but for now maybe just not host anything until you know the difference.
An invitation should match the style of your event not just in formality but in artistic style. Think about what and who your event is celebrating and make sure your it reflects that. It will give people more of a sense of things like what to wear, what to bring, and if they even want to go. For example, if I get an invitation that's covered in teddy bears and baby rattles I am most likely going to stay home as this would indicate it's a party revolving around children.
Make sure all of the important information is present. The five W's can help you out here. Who, what, where, why, and when. This material should be presented clearly and succinctly as you only have a small space in which to convey it.
Reply cards should be included for formal events, and yes that mean a return envelope with postage. For informal events a way of reaching you via voice or elf mail communication is fine, or if it is posted on the argument board there is a handy check box. You should clarify by what date you expect a reply by and how you expect to receive it. If you need any other information from your guests, like if they are bringing a guest or their food choice, this is also the place to ask and provide a way for them to respond.
If your occasion has a dress code, make sure to spell that out clearly. You might think it's obvious and that your friends don't need you to babysit their clothing choices. Trust me Dear Reader, that road just leads to disappointment and horrified elderly family members.
After all of these things have been included, please, for the sake of intelligent people everywhere, proof read it. Have a friend proof read it. Have three friends proof read it. Make sure that at least two of them actually know how to read.
Phrasing is important. Always use the third person. Do not use abbreviations. Do not use Zone Codes as they are not needed for magical direction gathering. Write out all numbers with actual words. Do not use punctuation at the ends of lines (I know this goes against everything I have ever stood for, but it's the correct way), though commas can be used to separate information within a line.
Some find it tacky to disallow children or mention gifts within a formal invitation. However, it can be important information and should be included somehow. A simple card included in the invitation can point guests in the right direction for gifts. Who is invited should be clear in the way that you address the envelope. If it isn't, include it politely inside.
Make sure guests have enough time to reply, but not too long where they may forget about it entirely. Eight weeks before your event is a good time to send them out if your event is planned that far ahead. If not, do it as soon as possible. Give guests at least a week or two to respond as they may need to make travel plans or find people to watch their spawn while they are away. If your event is fairly last minute, do not be upset if people cannot make it.
As for who to invite, that is ultimately up to you but forgetting or subbing people can have consequences. If you invite one person often times that turns into having to invite six more people. So if you cannot invite seven people avoid the chain reaction and don't invite the first one. If you absolutely have to invite that one person, make sure that you've been consistent and fair across the board. If you've invited one Aunt and her four brats, you cannot then invite your Uncle and not invite his two demons. If you invited your cousin's significant other of the week, you can't then leave out your best friend's long term partner or vice versa. Once you set precedent you need to stick to it.
I hope that this advice will help you avoid offending both your friend's and family's emotional sensibilities and their intellectual ones as well.
See you next Tuesday.