1 - Is it rude to repeatedly accept invites without reciprocating?
Yes, it is. But (and this is important) reciprocity is not expected to be equal. I have issued way more invites and hosted way more parties than most of my friends. A large party is an odd one to reciprocate. If I was invited to a large party, I feel that by bringing myself [and chatting to people who seem on their own-see that tie in to the other thread] and some nice drinks or appetizers, I have made my contribution.
Now, if I also hosted a large party, I would be remiss in not inviting people who have invited me to their large party. But I don't feel that a big party puts the same onus on a guest to reciprocate as a dinner party for example
2 - Is it rude to remove a regular from the guest list?
No, but it is tricky. It is a rejection. It is especially tricky for an annual party like this where people will assume that they have plans for that day well before the invite. (This is not an unreasonable assumption after several years of issued invites) I mention this because after 3-4 years of having a party (same time/same place) I know that if I planned to cancel it, I would feel a obligation to let people know in advance-maybe not a mass email, but I would mention it.
3 - How to respond to inquiries?
I think I'd just say something to the effect of cutting back on the size. It sounds like the people on the potentially-uninvited list are not very close to your mom, so they really shouldn't be surprised if they are removed. I'd say if they were surprised or even considered your mom rude, given the relationships you described, I'd think they would need to get a little perspective...
I agree with the above
If it was me (which it isn't)
1) I would keep the hairdresser. The party is a bit like a bonus tip. She would know if she wasn't invited and I would want to keep that warm relationship
. I wouldn't expect her to reciprocate.
3)I would keep the neighbour. (Unless they were highly social and had parties that I wasn't invited to) I just want good relationships
with the neighbours. I want them to like me and know me and keep an eye out for the the property when I'm away and all that good neighbourly stuff.
2) I would drop the old work friends. This is a friendship that is getting more distant. Not only have they not reciprocated, they don't RSVP or treat the invitation with respect.
4) I agree that is the hardest. I would do an A list-B list thing. I would check with the friend if she was planning on coming (before invites go out). If she was, I would add them. If not, I would leave them off.
I think that's pretty much what you advised. But if I were to give advice to your mom I would tell her to throw the party she wants to and invite the people she wants. Which is pretty much what you said. If she wants them there, I wouldn't even start to worry about reciprocity.