Back to the Basics – Fresh from a special events conference in L.A., I was prepared to write about the latest “hot event trends,” but then I ran across a faded green and white booklet titled Hospitality Hints printed in May 1969. Flipping through the yellowed pages, a line caught my eye: “Today our pattern of living is less formal so the tea or coffee frequently replaces the more formal reception of yesterday, and with it comes a more relaxed atmosphere and an air of ease and friendliness.”   Hmm.  Could the author ever have imagined the extent of how informal our lifestyle would become? The booklet included a number of useful tips which I think, as we kickoff a new year, are far more interesting to review than trendy developments.  Here are a few:

Frequently ‘R.S.V.P’ appears at the lower left-hand corner of the invitation. The letters mean ‘An answer, please.’” And, indeed, it does. This practice hasn’t changed since Emily Post instructed readers to answer within a day of receiving the invitation; however, with an increasingly relaxed atmosphere we have lost the sense of courtesy to actually provide an answer.  So, this 2015, please reply, not just because it is proper, but because it relieves the host from the headaches of unknown head counts and wasted food, and the embarrassment of empty chairs or unexpected guests. There is something more for 2015: consider using “RSVP regrets only,” indicating that guests only need to reply if they are not coming. This is a great option for standing buffet receptions where seating assignments are not critical and headcount can be less exact.

The type of invitation will indicate how formal the party is to be.”   I believe this remains true today. Despite the digital age of e-vites, paperless post, and social media, I encourage my clients to consider the price point of the event, the type of attendee they expect to attract, and the impression they want to give, before deciding on an electronic invitation as opposed to a paper invitation. In many cases, the event app or email should be used in addition to, not instead of, the formal paper invitation.

And, for the 60’s Retro: “When you wear gloves as part of the complete costume, you may wear them as you go down the receiving line and greet the hostess, but remove one or both before going to the refreshment table.”

Have a fun-filled and successful 2015!

Michelle Rathbun

PS. As for 2015 trends, here are a few buzz words for the year:

Vintage Remix, Shabby Chic, Bring the Outdoors, Indoors, Luxury Comfort Food
Skinny Drinks, Meatless Meals, Family Style Seating, Gingham (seriously?!).

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