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Discussion Forums

The Etiquette Queen Parties

Invitations & Mailings
See Other Categories

Ask your questions of the Etiquette Queen now.
You may even see your question and answer posted in the space below.

Katie asked:

I am throwing a holiday dinner party and an making fancy invitations. I want to include RSVP notes and do not know how to do it. The invitations will include a separate RSVP card and small envelope. Do I pre-address the envelope? And What do I write on the RSVP card itself? I am trying to make this as upscale as possible for fun. Thank you for your help-I've looked everywhere and can't find an answer! People do still include mailing RSVP's, right? They aren't obsolete?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I think your idea is great. Yes, you pre-address the return envelope. You can word it like an RSVP for a wedding: Mr. and/or Mrs. _________ & Family __#__ will/will not attend Date, time, etc. If the invite is for adults only leave off the family part. The second line is for the number of people. Most people today use verbal RSVP but you can certainly do it by mail.

Mike asked:

My girlfriend and I are having a Christmas party. We want everyone to dress nicely. Is there a term we can put on the invitations that means the same as business casual that is used for parties?

The Etiquette Queen says:

There are fill-in categories on invitations such as time, place, date, etc. Add one for attire and put business casual.

Julie asked:

How do I properly address an invitation to a female business contact and her husband if I don't know the spouses name?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could call someone in that person's office and ask for her husband's name.

Silvia asked:

Our family has been invited to a luncheon and our son has become a vegetarian - is it proper to point this out on my reply? And if so, what is the best way to say it. thanks.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Just reply that you will be attending and say "My son is a vegetarian".

Karin asked:

I will be having a New Years Eve Party at my lake house. My problem is that there is a woman that I do not want to invite. She is a mutual friend of some others very good friends of mine. I have invited her in the past to various events, but a majority of my "group" does not like her keeps asking why I invite her, when they know I really don't like her either. She has become very good friends with one of my best friend and that is why I keep inviting her to events. I really do not want her to come to this party, but I am very confused as to what to do. I have told this friend that I do not like this person and she is OK with it, but I feel so guilty for not inviting her. PLEASE HELP.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Get over it. You don't like her, your friends don't like her and even her friend is OK with it so have the party and leave her off the list. Life is too short.

Cliff asked:

When using a computer to print a greeting card, should one print their name with the computer or personally sign the card? Thank you

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could do either but I always appreciate a hand-signed card.

Kim asked:

We are having a house warming party and are sending out invitations soon. What is the proper way to let people know that we do not want everyone to bring their children? We would prefer an adults only celebration.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Put the words "Sorry, adults only".

Patti asked:

How do you include an RSVP card with an invitation. Do you put it inside the return envelope, or slip it under the flap?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Inside the outer envelope you include separately the invitation, the RSVP card and the return envelope.

Beth asked:

What is the proper wording for inviting guests and their significant others to a corporate party? Should it be mentioned on the actual invitation or just on the envelope that employees can bring a guest?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You either address the invitation to Mr. & Mrs. John Smith or Mr./Ms. John/Joan Smith and guest.

karen asked:

When sending written invitations for a party and you put your home phone # as an RSVP and people don't bother to call, do I assume they're not coming, they are coming or do I call them. It is nice to get a head count for food buying etc.,

The Etiquette Queen says:

Don't every assume. Although it's rather rude not to rsvp, some just don't so call them. Better safe than sorry.

Becky asked:

How far in advance should I send out invitations for a neighborhood Christmas cocktail party?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Generally the best time is 5-6 weeks before a party to give the invitee a chance to respond and you a chance to plan. Especially during the holidays when everyone is so busy.

Peggy asked:

Is there a correct and accepted formula for the writing of engagement announcements?

The Etiquette Queen says:

There is really no standard. Some people do it quite formally (see examples in etiquette books) and some are done with humor. You should go with what makes you happy and it will please the people who get it.

Kay asked:

Must engagement party invitations be addressed by hand, or may they be addressed with a computer label

The Etiquette Queen says:

Today, with the wonders of printers and the vast selection of fonts, you do not have to use hand written addresses. It is not only less expensive but easier to read and more error-free.

judy asked:

We're giving a 50th anniversary party for my parents. They do not want any gifts. Is it inappropriate to put that on the invitations?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Yes it is. Why not have your parents select a charity and put something on it like "in lieu of gifts, mom and dad would like donations to _____.

Anna asked:

Comments = My friend and I recently sent out Baby Shower invitations and listed the stores that I am registered at. Do you think this is OK?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Probably yes. But in the future, wait to be asked in person if you are registered and if so where.

Susan asked:

When your child is graduating from High School, is it proper or improper to send announcements or/and invitations to others who have children graduation from school also? Some say yes, but I have always heard you did not sent out invitations to those who have someone graduating also.

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, all graduates and their families get a list of others so you don't need to send any announcement. I personally feel that when someone sends me an announcement of graduation, they are asking for a gift not an acknowledgment. If you know someone well enough to be on this mailing list, you probably know about the graduation and can decide for yourself about a gift. But others feel differently. Make up your own mind with what makes you the most comfortable.

Sheryl asked:

We're hosting the neighborhood Christmas party this year (30-40 people) and I'd like to somehow encourage folks to bring an appetizer. Is it ok to put "appetizers welcome" at the bottom of the invitation? Also, we want it to be adults only -there will be booze-but in past years many couples have not come because they don't want to pay for a sitter just to go down the street. Any thoughts?

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, say right on the invitation that it is a pitch-in appetizer and you coordinate what everyone brings. When you say adults only, you do run the risk of that babysitter issue. You must choose.

Bobbe asked:

We are planning a Saturday evening engagement party for our daughter and her fiancé. We plan on serving a light supper and desserts. What is the proper wording for the invitation?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I would say you are invited to share the celebration of the engagement of -------- on (date, time, etc.). Please join us for a light supper and dessert and a toast to the new couple.

Noel asked:

I was recently invited to a baby shower hosted by and for people I have not had ANY contact with for 3 years. Any suggestions for an RSVP that is polite but also implies insult by this blatant request for a gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Just say no thanks, that you are busy. No need to make a point. They know it.

Nate asked:

I'm a junior in high school and I have had a crush on the same girl since I was a freshman. She is a very pretty girl and very quiet. I've called her one time our freshman year. And haven't ever since. I want to ask her out and hopefully ask her to go to the junior/senior prom, because its been my wish since my freshman year. I myself am a shy person and so is she! What should I do? I'm very confused! I THANK YOU very much for your help!!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

Why not either call or ask her in person for a small, daytime, after school date first. It can help break the ice and won't have to be in front of a lot of people. Then if it feels right, ask her to the dance. You never know, she might just love the whole idea. But no matter what she says, you'll never know anything unless you try. Even if it doesn't work out this time, you got your feet wet. Good luck and let me know what happens.

mcco asked:

My wife & I have just purchased a new business & want to invite some of our friends to open house. We are not looking for our friends to make purchases just want them to see the store. The follow is a sample the information we want on the invitation: -------------------------- Mr. ? and Mrs. ? request your presents to the open house for their new business "?????????".  Open house will start on Thursday November 18, 1999 at 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM and through regular store hours on Friday November 19, 1999 and Saturday November 20, 1999 CST. Refreshments will be served on Thursday evening.  Name of business street address City, State Zip code  No purchase is expected ------------------------------- Please Critique - I don't want my friend to think this is a sales pitch. I sincerely would like them to share this time with my family.  Thank you for your help,

The Etiquette Queen says:

There is nothing wrong with any of your wording. I would not expect to bring a gift if I received it and it gives me a choice of times to wish you all the best and to see the place.

Tee asked:

My 3 brothers & 2 sisters & I are planning a 50th anniversary for our parents. We are trying to word a proper invitation for a minimum cash bar, a wishing well in lieu of gifts, to send our parents on a trip. We plan on approximately 200 family & friends of my parents. We would also like to have them renew their wedding vows, which is one my mothers requests. I need to know the most appropriate way to put this on an invitation without sounding to pushy & rude in any way. Thanks Tee

The Etiquette Queen says:

Find an invitation or have one made as a wishing well. This will start them thinking. When they RSVP you can explain this. At that time you can tell them about the bar. A lot of couples renew their vows so that will not be unusual. You might find a wedding picture and get one of them now and have them blown up as posters for the party.

driscoll asked:

The company I work for is a mid-sized consulting firm. We work with fortune 200 companies. This is the type of persons who attend our annual party. Whereas I truly appreciate your suggestions, I didn't find any of the themes or the novelties (etc.) to be suitable. I am simply looking for wording for our invitation. We serve a light catered dinner, and there are red candle-type decorations and festive plants sprinkled here and there that adds a touch of festive elegance to our offices. Do you have any suggestions for wording to announce such a gathering?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You might consider sending a red flower such as a poinsettia with a card attached with the details such as where, when, etc. Have the plant sprinkled with glitter. Start with something like "Come join us" or use a candle tied with a ribbon with the card attached and start with something like "Help us light up the holidays.

Joi asked:

What is the proper invitation to send to friends inviting them to a party in your home and you want them to dress in evening attire?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You simply state your desires in the invitation. To make it easier, find an invitation that is a little more formal than usual and reinforce it when the guest RSVPs.

Kira asked:

Who should be invited to an engagement party? I am throwing an engagement party for my best friend, and was wondering if I can invite people even though they are not going to be invited to the wedding? Thanks : )

The Etiquette Queen says:

I guess you could invite anyone you want to invite but unless the wedding is deliberately going to be just for family and a few friends, why would you invite them.

Jennie asked:

How do I address a formal invitation for a couple living together, not married, when both are invited?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Address it: Mr. John Smith Ms. Joan Brown

natalie asked:

My sister in law is having a baby. I was planning a shower, so I called her other sister in laws to see if they wanted to plan one together. We had planned on a restaurant and told each other to get guest list together and call to combine the lists. When I called back later in the week they informed me they changed their mind about the party, that they were going to have their own shower and not to invite their side of the family. My mother in law and I just couldn't stand to be impolite and not send invitations to all of her family even if it means they get two invites to two showers what is proper? Thank You.

The Etiquette Queen says:

I don't get those sister-in-law. Family is family. But if that's what they want to do, you can't stop them. I agree with you and your mother-in-law. Have another one and invite who you want to. Too bad you all can't agree.

BILLIE-JO asked:

Help! My brother and I are trying to plan my parents 25th, and it's turning out to be a disaster. The family is already arguing about the invite list. (we have cousins who never show up for events, so I think we shouldn't invite them!) But others (my grandparents, disagree). AND!! My parents are now saying they don't want a party because it will be a hassle. So, is it ok to invite only certain family members? And should we even continue planning this party (now unbeknownst to them)?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You have a few issues. Your infighting (all the family) has taken away the pleasure you parents would have had with a hassle-free party. Now, you have to decide whether to go ahead and have the party or do something else. Something else might be to send them on a cruise or some sort of vacation. If you go ahead and have the party and don't tell them, you better stop quibbling and just do it. What difference does it make to send an invitation to someone you know won't come. Costs only 33 cents and no fighting.

Morgan asked:

I am having a skating party, and it is imperative that I know how many people are coming. At the last party I had, people showed up that didn't RSVP, and I want to make sure that doesn't happen. How can I put in my invitation that you are required to RSVP without sounding rude?

The Etiquette Queen says:

RSVP means exactly that. Have a guest list at the door and if the name isn't on the list, the person doesn't get in. Circulate this information through the "grapevine" and it will be easier to control.

Lesley asked:

When wording an invitation for a corporate holiday party, what is the proper wording for including support staff and/or spouses? Also, any suggestions on the wording of this type of party. It is very formal.

The Etiquette Queen says:

You can cover who comes to the party by how you address the invitation such as Mr. & Mrs. John Smith or Mr. John Smith and guest, etc. Support staff should receive invitations just as the others with no differentials. The wording will depend upon what will happen at the party such as cocktails, dinner, dancing, formal, etc. You can compose your own and have them printed or look for preprinted ones you can fill in.

Ginny asked:

I'm having an evening bridal shower on a Sunday at 5:00 PM at a restaurant. How should I word the invitation as far a attire goes? I don't want people showing up too formal.

The Etiquette Queen says:

The easiest way to do anything is straight forward. Get invitations that aren't formal and state on it casual dress.

Cindy asked:

My sister, Mother and myself are hosting a coed baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law. My Mom thinks that it is not proper for her to be a hostess of the shower. She is embarrassed that we put her name as hostess along with my sister's and mine on the invitations. Are we out of line? She did not tell us her feelings until the invitations were already mailed.

The Etiquette Queen says:

It is just fine that your mom's name was on the invite as a hostess. She should have made her feelings known before they were sent but no one will think anything about that. Just a loving family, doing something together. Concentrate on what's to come, not what's been.

Erin asked:

I'm having a Sweet Sixteen Party in December and I want it to be semi-formal. How would I say that on the invitation instead of just writing semi formal. is there any special way to write it or place to put it?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If you want to have fun with it, use pictures such as one of blue jeans with an "X" thru them, and one of a formal dress and tux with an "X" thru them and then pics of what you would like to wear.

Lexie asked:

My roommate and I are having a New Year's Eve party and would like our guest to chip in some money ($25 or so per couple) for food and drinks. What is an appropriate way to state that on an invitation? Thanks.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Just ask. No other way around it. Do it with a sense of humor like "what would you rather drink, Ripple or the real stuff?"

Iris asked:

Where can I find invitation ideas on the web? I'm thinking of making my son's theme Looney Toons! Please help!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

Look at They have great theme stuff and all the decorations and stuff to go with it.

JoAnn asked:

We are planning a retirement party for my Dad. Our thoughts are to have a small dinner party at a restaurant including the immediate family and people from his work. What is the proper etiquette for this type of party? My brothers and I are planning on paying for the dinner but is it ok to have everyone pay for their own drinks? How would we work the invitations so everyone understands? What is the normal length of a party like this?  Thanks!

The Etiquette Queen says:

There is nothing wrong in stating on the invitation "Cash bar". I have been invited to many parties like that and as long as I know ahead of time, it was fine. The length depends upon you. Pick a time to start and have a loose agenda, usually 45 min. to 1 hr. for cocktails and hors d' oeuvres, then dinner and a few toasts and presentations, and then if you have music or something, fine, if not, it's over.

Robyn asked:

What is a graceful way to say byob? Or a funny or twisted way?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could just put BYOB and have a contest about who can come up with the funniest word for the last "B". The prize is that person doesn't have to BYOB.

Rachael asked:

Who do I send birth announcements to? All family and friends? Those who I invited to the baby shower? I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I don't want to make people think they have to send gifts.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Send them to anyone you would to tell about the baby. It's not asking for gifts, just sharing good news.

Betty asked:

I was wondering if it is improper to give your own 25th anniversary party celebrating your 25 years of married life together. I am told that your children or close friends or relatives are suppose to give the party to honor you. What would be the proper way to do this?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could word the invitation something like, "After sharing 25 years with each, we could like to celebrate with all of our friends and relatives". You can certainly organize your own party.

Cassandra asked:

I am planning a millennium party with about 40-50 people between the ages of 18 and 25. What is the best way to indicate that people need to bring their own alcohol, as this would become expensive, but everything else, non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food will be provided? Also, I want people to feel free to 'dress up' in dresses, khakis, etc. How do I indicate this? Thanks so much,

The Etiquette Queen says:

Put BYOB on the invitation. This means, "Bring your own booze" and has been acceptable for years. Also say casual attire so that people know they can "dress down".

Kathy asked:

I have invited close friends and family members to join us at a local restaurant for a surprise 40th birthday party for my husband. I had planned to pay for drinks for everyone during Happy Hour from 6 to 7 and maybe a few appetizers. However, I had planned for the cost for dinners for everyone to be picked up individually by guests - as the restaurant said they would do individual checks. There will be 20-25 people present, and I really can't afford to pick up dinner tabs for everyone. Is an hour of drinks and appetizers on me, the hostess, adequate without picking up tabs for individual dinners? The restaurant is giving us 4 different meals to choose from.

The Etiquette Queen says:

That's just fine as long as you make that clear to the guests so there are no "financial" surprises for anyone.

Dune asked:

I am having my 16th birthday party combined with a Halloween party. Can you give me some advice on what to write on my invitation so that everyone who is not busy on that day is guaranteed to come? It should be humorous, cool and catchy. I have some ideas, but I am not sure! I am going to make it on the computer and print it out on orange paper. Any way I could make it more creative? I need to know soon, because I think I ought to send the invitations this week! Thanks a million!

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could do a pumpkin and do something like "The great pumpkin has a secret" and inside say something like he has a common birthday with you.

cindi asked:

What are the important things I should take into consideration when buying invitations for my sons Bar Mitzvah?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Formal or informal, theme or non-theme. I like interesting invitations, geared to the theme of the party.

Annie asked:

I am a member of a group and we are planning a Christmas dance/tree auction fundraiser with all proceeds benefiting the American cancer society. We live in a small town and want to send invitations to attract attention to the event and give people the opportunity to purchase tickets to the event. I am not sure how to word the invitation. Please help.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Remember the KISS theory - Keep It Simple S----. Wording is not hard when you just say what you need to. Something like "Please join together for a Christmas Dance and Tree Auction for the benefit of the American Cancer Society and give the details.

MRalls asked:

What is the proper way to word invitations for an after rehearsal dinner when I need the guests to select from 4 entrées? Thanking you in advance, 

The Etiquette Queen says:

You list all 4 entrees in a column and state the invitee choose one and respond with that choice in the RSVP.

Leah asked:

Is it appropriate to have a potluck type thing for an open house? If so - how do you word the invitations so someone will know to bring something?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You call it a "Pitch-In" dinner and keep track of who is bringing what. You provide the beverages, ice and setups and snacks such as chips, dips, veggies, etc.

Wayne asked:

I want to throw a 40th birthday party for a close friend, what is the latest date invitations should go out?

The Etiquette Queen says:

6 weeks before the party is the absolutely latest to make sure the guests have the date free, especially during the last quarter of the year with the holidays.

Debra asked:

I am having a millennium New Years Eve Party. I would like it to be "Black Tie". On the invitations, should I include "Black Tie" or "Black Tie Invited"? On sample invitations, I have seen it worded both ways. I want the occasion to be as "dressy" as possible, but realize some gentlemen would prefer to wear a nice suit. Please respond, as I would like to get the invitations out by mid-October! Thank you!

The Etiquette Queen says:

I have never seen "Black Tie Invited" but proper wording is "Black Tie". But you are right in knowing that a lot of the men won't want to get that dressed. You might consider "Black Tie Optional", giving them a choice.

Doreen asked:

My daughter graduated in June, 1999, but we could not have a party for her because we were building a house and it was not complete. It is finally done and I would like to have a belated party for her. I was thinking of Columbus Day weekend when she comes home from college. Most of her friends will be home too. How should I word the invitation.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Call it a "better late than never" party. Keep it light and humorous and everyone will get a laugh.

Katie asked:

I am throwing a engagement party for my sister and her fiancé. We want to include relatives but don't know how to include all. Both of the families are quite large, how do we go about doing a small party without hurting any feelings.  Also, when is too soon to have the party. I would like to throw them an engagement/Christmas party. If they just got engaged last week, is that too far away?

The Etiquette Queen says:

The date of the party should be closer to the actual wedding, not the actual engagement. Slow down. Also, so not to offend anyone, why not have an cocktail-type of party and ask everyone to BYOB (bring your own booze). That cuts down on the traffic and the expenses. You provide the food (think stations - small buffets) and possibly champagne for a toast.

See more Etiquette Queen Questions on Invitations & Mailings

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