TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Tess Vigeland: And finally, dear listener, if you will indulge me in a holiday rant. Every year, for the last six years, I’ve thrown a big holiday party at my house. Generally send out, oh, 70-80 invites. But every year more and more people decide to keep it a secret whether they’re going to show up or not. They don’t RSVP on time — or at all.
Now, there is a Money angle here — I’ll get to in a moment. But really, I’m just hoping for an explanation, and for that, I turned to the most trusted name in modern etiquette: Emily Yoffe, who writes the “Dear Prudence” column at Slate.com. Want to come to my party this weekend? Or would you rather keep me in the dark as to your intentions?
Emily Yoffe: Tess, I will RSVP, even though at the time I should be leaving for your party, I find myself in my sweats, laying on the couch. I will take a shower, get dressed and show up.
Vigeland: Thank you. Now, I suppose I could assume that people just don’t like my parties, but I would rather not.
Yoffe: It’s not just you.
Vigeland: That is what I hear. I hear more and more similar stories from other people. What is this epic fail of RSVPS?
Yoffe: My mailbox is full of this. I think it’s several things coming together. One, people just generally feel, “Oh, thank you notes, RSVPs — sure, if I lived in victorian England I’d that.” And the other is, because of the rise of e-mail invitations and the reminders, everyone is kind of like a fifth grader and you are their mother saying, “Have you practiced your piano yet?” You must nudge them or nag them — “Hi, did you get my last five invitations? Are you gonna come?” I don’t know what the answer is, because there you are, you want to spend a lot of time and money to feed people, ply them with alcohol. And yet, you feel like you’re on the Veldt and you’re a big game hunter and you’re trying to bag a wildebeest, “Please come to my house so I can spend money on you.” It’s outrageous.
Vigeland: Well, and that really gets to the personal finance of this: Parties are not cheap. But if I haven’t heard from you, I kind of have to assume that you might show up. So I’m going to buy more than I need and spend more money than I need to, right?
Yoffe: No. I assume, if I haven’t heard from you, you won’t show up. And the other thing I show up all the time is that even if I have heard from you that you will show up, it’s 50-50 whether you’ll actually come. So, I think what you have to do is, you say that this is an annual party, you need to make kind of a mental note of who’s RSVPed, who’s shown. And if year after year, people don’t respond, knock ’em off the list.
Vigeland: Um, Prudie, that’s what I did this year. I did! I was very petulant. I did not invite people who did not RSVP last year. But that makes me the Grinch, right?
Yoffe: Absolutely not. What is it?
Vigeland: I don’t know? I was really hoping you could tell me.
Yoffe: Is it TiVo or something? Everyone thinks they just don’t live in real time?
Vigeland: I think maybe there’s just always the glimmer of hope that there will be a better offer.
Yoffe: Well, there’s not going to be a better offer than your party. That’s for sure.
Vigeland: You got that right. Thanks so much.
Yoffe: My pleasure.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.