Responding to invitations is not optional. It seems like this gets worse and worse with every year that passes. Even though things like Facebook and Evite are awesomely convenient for inviting people to your parties, they lessen the seriousness with which invitations are taken. It just seems so easy to ignore them, or to think about it, or to wait and see if a better offer comes along. Also, that dastardly "Maybe" option makes you feel like maybe is an acceptable answer to an invitation.
It is not.
Here are the official rules of invitations.
Respond within 48 hours of receiving the invitation. If you can't make up your mind in 24 hours, then you should decline the invitation.
When you say no, there are two acceptable ways to do that. First, you can say, "Thanks so much, but I will be out of town." Or you can say, "Thanks so much, but I have other plans." That's all that is required, and if the hostess presses you to give more detail, say, "I made plans with an old friend weeks ago." If that old friend is your couch, so be it. (And if you are one of those people who interrogate folks who decline your invitations, go ahead and slap yourself in the face. That is rude, rude, rude. What if your friend is having an abortion, or anal bleaching, or some other personal procedure that she doesn't care to share with you? Or, even worse, what if she really hates your guts and just doesn't feel like hanging out? Do you honestly want to know that?)
- If you have some sort of wrench in the works, like a house guest arriving that hasn't been able to pinpoint a time, or an on-call shift at the morgue, handle it this way. Call or email your hostess and say, "I really want to come, but XYZ is making it impossible to know if I will be free. I'm going to decline for now so you can make plans, but if something changes do you mind if I call you?" In other words, say a definitive no. Don't say maybe; that just makes you look like you are waiting for better plans to come along. Rude, rude, rude. Chances are that you aren't going to make it, so don't leave your host in limbo. If you do end up calling later because of a change of plans, your hostess can ignore your call if it's inconvenient. Also, obviously don't do this for a dinner party. If it's a dinner, say yes or no within 24 hours and let everyone get on with their lives.
- When you say yes, you are supposed to go. Yes is not code for "if I feel like it." Yes means yes. You can bail out if one of the following things happen:1. You or your offspring are sick. Maybe your pets, depending on how severe.
2. Your car has broken apart.
3. Some other crazy shit went down. Such as, you got fired; your house was broken into; your Aunt Thelma tried to poison you; your sister is getting a divorce. As in, something serious, not just you are tired or prefer to watch Real Housewives of Piney Bluffs.
Otherwise, you're going. Listen, FruHo knows how you feel. Sometimes you just don't want to go anywhere. See above, and then think about the times that you've planned and prepared and bought and cooked for all of the guests you expected to show up, only to be left with a shit-ton of sauerkraut in a serving bowl because six people were no-shows. Hurt feelings are barely the half of it. Hurt pocketbook, hurt feet from standing all day, hurt head from drinking too much to calm your party-giving nerves…. If you say yes, you have to go. Period.
Strategically speaking, The Frugal Hostess tends to vacillate between social butterfly and hermit. Her grandmother suggests that you always say yes and always go, even if you think you don't want to, because nine times out of ten you will have a good time. FruHo tries to follow this advice. It's good to remind yourself of this when you're cutting pictures of dream bedroom furniture out of magazines or reading a good book and don't feel like pulling on Spanx for a party. Even though you don't feel like going in that exact moment, you will probably have fun.
And you already said yes, so don't be an asshole.