Every year it's the same. I book the hall and the entertainer. I painstakingly write out the invitations, hand them out to all my son's friends. But despite the large RSVP section with all my details I am met with a deafening silence.
Of course there are the lovely parents who instantly reply. But there are also many who seem to have lost the ability to pick up a pen or dial a number to let you know if their offspring will be gracing you with their presence or not.
I did wonder if it was perhaps just that my family were unpopular, but it turns out that this failure to RSVP is endemic. A straw poll amongst my mummy friends revealed that every one has faced the frustrating task of chasing up parents who haven't the common courtesy to reply to party invitations.
The problem is that not replying isn't just rude, it also leaves the poor hostess in a quandary. Is it safe to assume that those who haven't bothered to let her know don't plan to turn up on the big day? Or should she read radio silence as acceptance?
Some mums resort to phoning round, but even that doesn't elicit a response in some cases. One friend said that even after several phone messages two parents never replied, and yet turned up on the day. She was brave enough to deny their children party bags. But I can't take the tantrums and tears when a small child is told there is no little plastic bag of throwaway toys and teeth-rotting sweets for them to take away.
It's even worse when your party venue requires you to confirm numbers and pay for places and food ahead of time, so when an extra guest turns up you have to dig into your pocket to fit them in at the last minute.
The problem is that far from meaning a child won't turn up, a failure to RSVP usually means that not only will they will arrive on the day, so will all their brothers and sisters ,all of whom expect the full party treatment. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to redistribute the contents of food boxes and party bags at the last minute to accommodate unexpected and uninvited guests.
I hate harassing people for answers to my invitations and I have found it's usually pointless anyway. My plaintive requests for confirmation of attendance are met with a breezy response along the lines of: 'I saw your piddling invitation, but I am far too busy to spare the time to let you know if my precious child will be able to come to your spectacularly unimportant party'. Which leaves me in a puddle of mortification and even worse, none the wiser about their child's attendance.
When pressed some RSVP refusniks cited the fatal error of asking parents to RSVP to a landline as the problem as this means they can't hide behind text or email, but may actually have to speak to a real person. While others admitted they couldn't be bothered to answer invitations from mothers they didn't know, even if their children were friends.
The problem is that this means their poor children could soon find themselves persona non grata on birthday party guest lists. In fact as my son's October birthday is fast approaching I am thinking of solving the problem by employing a bouncer for his birthday bash to greet all those who failed to RSVP with a curt 'You're name's not down, you're not coming in'.
What do you think?
Are you fed up of planning parties with no idea of who's coming?