How to Word the RSVP on Party Invitations

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It's party time! Being well equipped for any kind of party, from a small cake-and-punch reception to a catered affair, relies heavily on the guest count. The best way to avoid over- or under-buying food, drinks and favors is to request invitees to RSVP to the event on the invitation. For gatherings that don't necessarily demand a head count, it's customary to ask only invitees that cannot attend to respond. The key to wording an RSVP is simplicity—the invitation should be clear on who to contact and for what reason.

Choose the contact person (or persons) for invitees. In most instances this person is the party host, but it may be someone else—a friend of the host or party honoree—who has accepted responsibility for maintaining the guest count. Determine the best contact method. It's typically phone, but email is acceptable as well.

Decide on whether a head count is necessary. While "RSVP" moves invitees to respond if they may or may not attend, "Regrets only" prompts response only from those who certainly will not be at the party. Also decide on whether a deadline is necessary. Catered events demand a head count by a certain date, whereas informal birthday parties do not.

At the close of each party invitation, type or write (for manufactured invitations) RSVP instructions. Be simple: "RSVP [by date, if included] to [insert name] at [insert phone or other method]," or "Regrets only to [insert name] at [insert phone or other method]".