12/15/2014 04:45 pm ET Updated Feb 14, 2015

Holiday RSVP Etiquette

With the holidays in full swing, you no doubt have been on the receiving end of at least one dinner or party invitation. Common courtesy requires you to follow the simple etiquette rule of responding in a timely manner. The rules for a proper RSVP are basic but often ignored. Failing to properly respond to an invitation will inevitably lead to ill will, hurt feelings and getting tagged as a rude guest or a thoughtless friend. Hosting an event takes a great deal of preparation and much of it depends on the number of guests in attendance. Here are a few RSVP etiquette tips:

  • Do respond promptly - preferably within 48 hours. Your host is waiting for your answer today. Even if the party is several weeks away, or the RSVP deadline is not immediate, a speedy response shows the host that you appreciate being included on the guest list. You may or may not accept the offer, but either way, a quick response shows respect for the person sending the invitation.
  • Do keep your regret simple. There's no need to go into an elaborate story as to why you can't attend the party. If you would like to share details, such as a prior commitment or a family function, by all means offer the information. However, a simple, "Unfortunately I have a schedule conflict and won't be able to attend the party" is all that is necessary...even less when responding via a response card.
  • Don't assume a third party verbal RSVP is enough. Letting someone other than the person indicated on the invitation know (husband, friend, neighbor) you accept or decline an invitation is a dangerous risk. A direct RSVP to the host will ensure an accurate count and avoid a message that may get miscommunicated or forgotten.
  • Do RSVP only for the person invited. The invitation should clearly state who and how many people are invited to attend. If you are truly unsure, you can ask for a clarification, but ask in a way that avoids putting your host on the spot; "I just want to make I sure I understand, this is an employee only party and spouses are not invited?" Graciously accept whatever answer your host provides and don't ask to be the exception.
  • Don't change your mind. The only good reason to alter an RSVP is an emergency, such as illness, injury or a personal situation that is beyond your control. If that happens, make a phone call to your host, letting them know of the unexpected circumstances and apologize for the short notice. Often a host has a limited budget and space restrictions and your change will either open the door for another guest to be invited or leave an empty chair if you don't let the host know in enough time.
  • Do let the host know of any dietary restrictions. A host will often ask at the time of the RSVP if there are any special dietary limitations they should be aware of. It's the guest's responsibility to let the host know in advance to allow for careful planning and menu preparation.
  • Don't assume an e-vite RSVP is not as important as a written response. It is not uncommon to hear, "I didn't respond because it was just an electronic invitation." In today's tech inundated world, e-vites are equally as common as an invitation sent through the mail. If the host has taken the time to include you on their guest list, it's only courteous that you respond in kind.

For inspiration on the perfect Holiday Hostess Gift, refer to my Pinterest board. You'll also find holiday style favorites and entertaining ideas fitting for this festive time of year.

For more of Diane's Holiday Etiquette tips, visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.