Dinner Parties and RSVPs

I plan and host a lot of dinner parties with my partner. We like to cook and have friends over. Sometimes we (usually I) just want to introduce certain people to each other. There are some people we just like being around. There are always a lot of people out there we would like to get to know better. If we have the time and energy, we invite people to come over for a casual dinner. We make something up in the crockpot, put ingredients in the bread machine, make up a big salad. And clean the house up some; an side-bonus to inviting people over.

Since we’re planning dinner, we really need to have a good ballpark on how many people to expect. Will we use the dining room table or take food into the living room? Do I need to feed 6 people or 8 or 12? Will this dish suit everyone who is coming over, after all, some friends have allergies, some are vegetarians.

In other words, we need to know who’s coming and who’s not coming. We need those RSVPs, but those seem so very very difficult to drag out of people sometime. I know folks get busy. Sometimes they forget. Sometimes they want to, but aren’t sure it will work out. And that’s all okay. Please just let me know what’s going on. And it is okay to forget on occasion; I do too.

I know that I try to reply immediately when I get invitations. What I put off, I often forget. I try especially hard to give an immediate or prompt RSVP when I am invited by an individual or family. Business invitations are another matter entirely — I feel a lot less obligation to RSVP when someone is trying to sell me something.

I wonder sometimes if the bad response rate is something I am/we are doing. I use eVite because it makes it easier to track responses and for guests to see what other guests have been invited. I don’t know if it is eVite in particular, but this seems to be an invitation to getting ignored instead of an invitation to a party — ouch. That hurts!

Would emailing people directly be a better strategy? Maybe an initial invitation email and then a follow up with the eVite? It seems to me sometimes that the only way to make sure people reply is to call everyone individually, but that’s clearly too much to do all or even most of the time.

What can I do to increase the response rate on invitations? Does anyone have any suggestions or answers?