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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life :: 6 Ideas for Sending a Party Invite Without Facebook

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Have you guys hosted a party lately?

We're celebrating my 28th birthday, 20 days in advance, with a wine and cheese murder mystery night. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I've been plotting and planning and pinning like a stay-at-home mom on steroids. But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about the first step of any proper shindig... inviting your peeps. Back in the ol' days, you'd simply pen a hand-written note, stamp it with your family's emblem, hand it to the butler and it'd be sent down the street on horseback.

Now, there are so many options it's actually kinda... stressful. I mean, if we only had one way of doing things, maybe it'd be a little boring but it'd also be easy. I know technology's supposed to make our lives less complicated, but does it? Should you e-mail, snail mail, or something else? What if someone never goes online? What if someone doesn't have cell reception? What if someone doesn't check their mailbox on a regular basis? (Yes, all of these people exist. Weirdos, right?)

But even if your friends are Amish hermits who don't communicate with the outside world, there's gotta still be a way to invite them to your bash. I mean, if you don't want them to come, they probably shouldn't be your friends. You should have SOME desire to hang with them, y'all.

I left Facebook years ago and came back recently, and during that time I still managed to throw successful parties (and a few duds). Here are 7 ways you can spread the word to your boos, and 6 of them are without the 'book. Plus, I've added bonus tips learned from experience and through conversations with you guys on Twitter, Google+, and of course Facebook. Feel free to add your thoughts to those threads.

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In order, from least to most work for the host(ess)...

1) Word of mouth // If you tell someone about your shindig face-to-face, it's a lot harder for them to pull the "I didn't know about it" excuse. They can't not see your invite if there's nothing to see. However, it's easier for them to forget about the details when there's no physical invitation to refer back to for information. If they're someone who is good at planning and/or life, they'll pull out their phone or planner and jot it down. But otherwise, it'll probably go in one ear and out the other. Unless they're a really close friend with a really sharp memory, this tactic is the least promising.

2) Text message // Everyone has their phones on them always, so this one SHOULD get responses... and sometimes it does. But it's hit or miss. I had a Halloween party once where 60 guests came, and then tried having one on Christmas Eve with the same group -- but only 2 people showed up. I'm sure the type of event was also a factor (most people are with their families around Christmas) and it could've been timing as well (I planned the Halloween bash further in advance). However, there's a chance that your text could get lost in the shuffle, and it could be considered too casual. In my opinion, texting is good for small get-togethers and kick-backs (think 5-10 people).

3) Instagram // I've seen people use Instagram (usually direct messages) for invites, but I don't think it works well. I consider it a last resort if someone doesn't have Facebook and I still want to spread the word online. The problem with Instagram's messaging is that the notifications are really subtle and can get lost quick. There's no guarantee that your invitee will see it at all.

4) Facebook // It's still the most popular way to invite people to events. However, there are so MANY things going on over there that it's hard to keep track. I'm invited to parties/concerts/lectures all the time by peeps that I'm not super good friends with (say, randoms from high school that don't even live in the same state). Then, when I get invited to something I actually DO care about (like a friend's birthday dinner) I can get distracted and forget about it. I'm usually good at adding things to my calendar and not relying on social media for reminders, but not everyone has an offline source like that. Keep in mind that as similar as your friends are to you, you are not exactly the same (duh) and you need to cater to their needs/wants/quirks. Your preferred way of being invited somewhere may not be their preferred way.

5) Eventbrite, Evite, or e-mail // For my Michigan baby shower last summer, my sweet mother mailed out 50 invitations, and 45 people showed up. For Trey's "welcome home" party, which I hosted after he was born in the fall, I sent the same amount of e-invitations and only 5 people came. In fact, most didn't even reply. Maybe it's because I was providing zero booze and very little food, or maybe it's because normal people don't check their e-mail 12x/day like us bloggers do. Most of the buds in my daily life, by the way, are not bloggers. They are also not mothers, and beer is probably more important than babies.

6) Fliers or invitations passed out by hand // This is good for any public, casual event like a work party, summer barbecue, comedy gig, band concert, etc. Anything else and your invitees may not feel like a special, honored guest. People like to see an envelope with their name on it.

7) Old-fashioned, snail-mailed invites // For my soiree coming up, I wanted to keep it small, but I still wanted to see who could truly make it before mailing out actual invitations. I made a Facebook event, got addresses from the people who could be there, and then mailed out invites. Having a physical invitation trumps all. If you take your party seriously, your guests will too. And the more effort you put into planning, the more effort your guests will put into being there. Plus, who doesn't love mail!?

Bonus tips for you, my loves...

-Show up to your friends' parties. Try to be on time. Bring a hostess gift, or at least a card. There's this new trend where it's suddenly cool to not care. I don't think it's cool. Don't be mysterious and aloof. You should care about your friends, and show them that you care. If you don't go to their stuff, you can't expect them to come to yours. Interact with other people who are there, smile, be nice. If you can't go or you'll be late, the least you can do is tell them so that they can plan accordingly.

-Send out your invites at least two weeks before but no more than three months, depending on the seriousness of the occasion. I'd personally do three months for a wedding, two months for a baby or bridal shower, and one month for a birthday or anything else. Keep in mind that most people get their work schedules 1-2 weeks in advance, and if they want to ask for a day off, they need to put in their request 2-4 weeks ahead of time. You also need to consider travel time for your guests (if they're coming in from out of town, etc).

-You will always have at least a few people who don't attend or even respond. It sucks, but it's normal. Some people won't be able to come or just won't want to. Maybe they forgot or have something else going on. It most likely has nothing to do with you. I have some friends that are bad planners, but it doesn't mean they're bad friends. You may need to lovingly remind those people more than once about what you have coming up. Do the work. It's worth it.

-HOWEVER, if someone repeatedly makes no effort, you don't have to continue your friendship with that person. I used to invite everyone to everything, but I'm more exclusive now because there were certain people that never came or even RSVP'd yes/no/maybe. Over and over. I started noticing patterns. When you see the same people attend every time, you know those are your real friends. Even if you're close with someone who is an introvert or a homebody, they will come out to celebrate the important things in your life, or they will respectfully and politely tell you they can't. They won't just ignore you. Have the self-respect to reserve invites for those who deserve it. You owe yourself that much.

-On that note, focus on the people who are at your event, not the ones who aren't. Friendship is about quality, not quantity. I would rather have 10 amazing besties than 100 so-so acquaintances. Your time is valuable and so is that of your guests. Live in the moment and have fun!

*Photos found here and here. Text added by me.
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