Inviting people for a meal at your home is a way to develop friendships or enjoy time with people with whom you already share a close bond. Yet, when you extend the invitation to friends or acquaintances, it's much more involved than stating a date and time. The presentation of the invitation and the way that you word it will depend on the formality of the occasion. It's also important to provide and find out certain details so potential guests will know what to expect and you will know how to accommodate everyone's needs.
Call, email or invite people in person to come to your home for a meal. If the meal is a formal affair, hand out or mail written invitations. Use pre-printed, formal invitations with an enclosed reply card for a formal meal. Alternatively, you can hand write formal meal invitations on high-quality stationary for another option. Purchase fill-in invitation cards, make invitations on the computer or hand write them on your personal stationary when creating informal meal invitations. For email invites, type the invitation to the recipient on email stationary and send it as an attachment, or send the invite within the body of an email if it's an informal meal.
Word an invitation for a formal meal in the third person and write out dates and times. For example, write "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe request the pleasure of your company at dinner on Saturday, the twenty-first of June at eight o'clock at 1234 Any Street, New York City." Word an informal written invitation for dinner in the first person: "We are having at dinner party at our home at 1234 Any Street on June 21 at 8 p.m. Please come." For invitations in the body of an email, write, "I'm cooking dinner for some friends and family on June 21 at 8 p.m., and I'd like you to join us." If you are inviting someone in person, say something like, "I'm having a meal at my home for a few friends on June 21 at 8 p.m. I'd really like you to come if you can."
Provide details in an informal oral or written invitation such as what you will serve. For example, "Barbecue and sides will be served." This will allow your guests to know what to expect and plan accordingly for the meal. For instance, if you're serving a heavy meal, full of high-calorie foods, some guests may appreciate knowing in advance so that they can reduce their intake at meals leading up to the meal at your home. Formal meal invitations can include a statement at the bottom that says "black tie" so guests will know they should dress in appropriate evening wear.
Include a request in your oral or written invitation for a reply as to whether or not the invitee will attend. For instance, a formal invitation can include a reply card that the invitee can mail back with his or her response. An informal, written invitation can include your phone number or email address with a request to reply with a response. When asking in person, simply say, "Let me know by next Wednesday if you'd like to come."
If you plan to serve before-dinner drinks, let people know so they can skip that part of the evening if they don't drink.
It's okay to invite someone to a meal at your home without advance notice. This is especially true if they don't have anywhere else to go at the time.
According to "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book," you should invite people at least 10 days in advance for non-formal meals and two weeks prior to a formal event.
Include R.S.V.P. as a way to alert invitees to reply to the invitation.
Ask anyone that you invite if he or she has any food allergies so that you can alter your menu if needed. For instance, if someone is allergic to shellfish, you won't want that to be the basis of the meal.