20-40-60 Etiquette: What if I am not invited?

I'm throwing a party, and the guest list is short. Now someone who isn't invited asks me about it. What do I say? 20-40-60 Etiquette wrestles with the question, with Christina Nihira as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Modified: January 20, 2013 at 1:39 am •  Published: January 20, 2013
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QUESTION: What if someone hears that you are having a party, and you are having a party, but they are not invited, but they ask you about it? What should you say?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Why not invite them? Have you ever been the person not invited to a party? It is not the best feeling. Be the bigger person and invite them if they ask you about it.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Include the person if you can by saying something like, “yes, and I'd love for you to come.” However, sometimes that person isn't on the guest list because space was limited (or another specific reason). If that's the case, don't go into too many details, but just explain simply why your numbers are limited (such as the honoree has too many relatives or that you are keeping this event small and intimate). If you want to, or if it makes sense, suggest another time for you to get together with the person. It's a sticky subject, and most of us don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by excluding him or her from a party, so tread lightly and keep the person's feelings in mind. Whether we're kids or adults, most of us have found ourselves on both ends of that situation (having to cut a guest list and being the person cut).

HELEN'S ANSWER: Party guest lists are hard. Sometimes a host is limited by the number of people they can invite or by finances.

If someone asks you why they were not invited to your party, you might explain those limitations if they are indeed the case. If you had other reasons for not inviting this particular person, I don't think it is polite to point them out. A simple “I am sorry, but I was limited as to my guest list” should suffice.


by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
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...
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by 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
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