Alex Nash, 5, was invited to a friend’s birthday party at a ski and snowboarding facility, according to the Plymouth Herald.
Alex’s parents responded to the invitation and indicated Alex would attend the party.
Alex’s parents later realized they already had other plans for that day and he did not attend the party. The boy’s father said he did not have contact information for the birthday boy’s mother to let her know Alex had changed his mind and would no longer be attending the party.
Several days later, Alex came home from school with an invoice from the birthday boy’s mother for a $24 “child’s party no show fee.”
So many questions left unanswered. For starters, how is it that the parents were able to rsvp to the invitation indicating Alex would be attending the party yet later claim to not have that same contact information to alert her of the changed plans? And unless the school administration gave Mr. Nash the hostess’ address (something that would have *never* happened in the US), how did he know where she lived to go knock on her door to confront her about the invoice? It seems to me that the means were there for the Nashes to get in touch with the birthday party hostess but were not utilized until it became necessary to take issue with the invoice. Bottom line, Mr. Nash, if you rsvp in the affirmative that you or a child of yours will be attending a party, etiquette requires that you honor that rsvp unless you are on your deathbed. Having replied that Alex would be in attendance at this ski and snowboarding party, you had an obligation to honor that rsvp to the best of your ability which, by the way, means you go the extra mile to inform the hostess ahead of time that you must rescind your rsvp.
However, Ms. Party Hostess, you are not off the hook either. It appears you planned a birthday party that was quite expensive per guest. Anyone who has extended any kind of hospitality knows, from experience, that guests cannot be relied upon to either honor their rsvps or even bother to rsvp at all. It’s one of the ubiquitous yet annoying aspects of entertaining these days. However, as much as guests can annoy their kind hosts and hostesses to the point of aggravation, sending guests formal invoices for failing to show up is a guaranteed, one way, no layovers trip to Etiquette Hell. What is next? Invoicing guests whose birthday gifts are not sufficiently expensive enough to offset the costs of the party?
The gracious host plans a party he/she can afford with no expectation that guests have any obligation to offset the cost of entertaining. Emergencies happen and guests who you were expecting to arrive have suddenly bailed due to some unforeseen problem. Sometimes evil guests bail simply because something better has come up. If you cannot afford to absorb the cost of an unused meal or entertainment, you have no business planning parties that are clearly out of your league.
The answer is not to invoice the guest but rather strike them from all future guest lists thus leaving them scratching their heads and pondering why they never get invited anywhere.
Update: Ms. Party Hostess has chimed in with her side of the story HERE. My conclusions remain the same except that I note that the Nashes missed an opportunity to teach Alex a lesson in honoring his word when they allowed him to choose an outing with his grandparents instead of having the integrity to stay committed to his rsvp to a birthday party.