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Parties Extra! Blog---20-40-60 Etiquette---How should I respond? Text? Phone?


By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I am not sure but there seems to be a big gap in communication techniques with this generation of young people. Recently, my husband and I were hosts for an engagement party for our daughter and her husband-to-be. The party was in our home, and we needed a number for the caterer. I used my landline telephone for responses, which led to confusion because several of the young invited guests told my daughter that they had tried to text me but it did not go through. Many of the boys did not respond at all (I asked for regrets only). It was infuriating to me that these people did not pick up the phone, call me, leave a message or just let me know if they were coming or not. It would not have taken more than a couple of minutes of their precious time.

CALLIE'S ANSWER: This isn't just the "young people generation." Technology has shaped our culture as a whole. Texting and emails have become more convenient for EVERYONE. If you do not text or email, you need to get with it!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: It is normal these days for people, especially younger ones, to assume that a phone number is a mobile one and that they can text it. That is an essential means of communication for many different ages, and it is an easy way to reply. However, that doesn't excuse them for not picking up the phone to call you when their texts didn't go through. They should have made the effort and were rude not to do so.

But as complaints about people who don't RSVP continue to escalate, providing an email address and a mobile phone number on the invitation for texting might guarantee more replies than just the ones who are willing to use a landline. You are right to be upset with their lack of courtesy; how frustrating to plan a lovely party and have would-be guests not take the time to realize the effort, planning and expense involved. But, also, next time, you can choose a different way to let them communicate, such as email or text in addition to a landline, or specify on the invitation that the RSVP number is for calls only.

Or you can try to keep up the fight and assert that phones are still used for calling people.

HELEN ANSWER: Whatever method of communication that you, as the hostess, gave is the one the invitees should answer. You are doing the inviting, the paying for their dinner and drinks and the hosting of the party at your house. Young people should disregard their texting and emails this time and do what is expected by the host.

Sure, emailing and texting are easier. I have been known to thank people by email instead of writing the proper thank-you note, but I always try to respect my host's wishes, particularly if I am coming to their house and enjoying their hospitality. The ones who could not make it to the party should follow the same rules. Call the number; say yes or no!

GUEST'S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, The Oklahoman night news director and University of Central Oklahoma Media Ethics Chair:

It may seem frustrating, but as technology evolves, so do the many forms of communication. How baby boomers learned to communicate is very different than how Generation X or millennials learned. Is it the responsibility of the host or the guest to make sure the information gets from the sender to the receiver and back to the sender? I believe it is the sender. If you want people to come to a gathering, you must make sure your guests receive the information in the easiest way possible for them and provide ways for them to contact you.

You could have included several methods of reply in your invitation: landline, cellphone, email, even Facebook or other social media. It's the world we live in. If you make it complicated or confusing for younger guests to receive the information or to reply, you may find yourself alone at your party.

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›