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20-40-60 Etiquette---What if they ask me if they are invited?

by Helen Ford Wallace Published: January 20, 2013



By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

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.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, local community volunteer and journalist: Your question does not mention what type what type of relationship you have with the host, which is the crux of how to best address this thorny situation.

Before you get upset, I think it’s important to remember not to personalize a non-invite because usually it has nothing to do with you.

If you are close pals and feel this oversight has really hurt your feelings, I am a big believer in open communication. Make a call and have an honest conversation with your friend or family member.

The majority of times, hosts suffer from party-preparation stress. That is to say, if you ask why you were not included, the answer might surprise you. Often creating the guest list is reason enough to dissuade many from holding a big get-together. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts like “if I invite him, I need to invite them” or “if they come, I can’t forget her, too.” And sometimes, names simply get left off the list. I myself have made that mistake (and later felt horrible). Others may struggle with wanting to keep things small and intimate by only inviting over one couple or family.

Life is too short to dwell on missed invites. There’s always time for another party!

Callie Gordon is twenty-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

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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