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Cancelling Etiquette

Here's a question & a general vent for everyone out there...

The Question...

When is the appropriate lead time to cancel on someone once you have accepted an invitation?

The Vent...
I guess knowing at some point before the party is better than not knowing at all...but geez cancelling two days before is ridiculous! Don't people think that there is any preparation involved. Don't they understand that I stayed up until midnight making pie dough so that everyone who said they were coming could take home a homemade apple pie and then they cancel and I now I have way more pie dough than is needed? Don't people know that there is a difference between creating a menu that is a buffet for 18 people and a sit down meal for 10. Maybe I just have a bit of pre-party crankiness - but a lot of work goes into hosting a party that is going to be a fun time and then people cancel at the last minute and ruin my party mojo. Am I just being uptight - or has RSVP etiquette gone down the tubes?

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  1. I don't think you're being uptight - in my experience, RSVP etiquette has been way down for at least 10 years: last minute cancellations; last minute responses; no responses at all only to show with multiple additional guests in tow; last minute calls for directions when one is busily answering the door/greeting, etc; (obviously undestandable if someone on the road is lost - but I mean "well, we're about to leave - how do we get there?" even though directions have been provided with the invitation) and on....I stopped entertaining all but a few select people there for a while, I was so fed up.

    And I must say, that since living in Europe - it doesn't happen to nearly the same extent. To a written invitation I even receive old school, written replies even though the invite dropped in the box of neighbors had my phone number; 24 hour cancellation with truly sincere regrets; notes of thanks afterwards; no craziness about people suggesting they bring things I haven't asked for, a la the Rib Fiasco of San Jose Hound etc.

    Whew. To your first question: I'd say at least 24 hours would be appreciated; less can work out fine if it's a different sort of get together - seated dinner for 8 vs. a holiday open house, for example....

    1 Reply
    1. re: briedemeaux

      I agree with above posters but will add: the cancellees are going to be pretty darn sad when they find out they missed out on fresh pie! Although, if something truly bad happened to keep them from attending maybe you'll send pie over as a "feel better"? Unless these are friends who pull similar stunts on a regular basis, give them the benefit of the doubt and have a great party!

    2. Never in a million years would I think that you're up til midnight days ahead making pie dough to send me home with a pie! What makes you think they'd "understand" that? Did you tell them you'd be doing that?

      I seem to remember somewhere (one of those etiquette book thingies) that once you say yes, you're in - someone had better be dead, bleeding, or deathly ill for a cancellation. But, my rule of thumb for events I organize is 48 hours. Anything less than that and you'd better really sell an apology or you're "off the list".

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. I think 48 hours notice is ample time. I agree with the poster who said that, no, I would have no idea that someone would stay up all night making me pies to take home. And pie dough freezes quite nicely so now, next time you want a pie, all you have to do is thaw it out in your fridge!

          Most people would not have started cooking in a major way at that point and many would not have purchased the bulk of the food for the party in order to have it be as fresh as possible. I can see that canceling the night before is annoying, but sometimes life intervenes and business trips come up suddenly, children get sick, things happen. Two days notice is hardly the an outrage as if they had called an hour before with no legitimate excuse other than "we don't feel like it."

          1. 48 hours is plenty of time.