June 20, 2012

Idea for Not Having to Do a Phone RSVP

A lot of the party invitations we got this year included email addresses, which is GREAT. Let's have a little appreciative round of applause for this getting more and more widespread.

Some had only phone numbers, but I had the email address from a class list, and used that.

Some had only phone numbers, but I could call while on my way to school pick-up/drop-off, or RIGHT before leaving, knowing the other parent would likely be out of their house at that time. (Note: this plan is dicier now that people put down their cell phone numbers.)

Some only had phone numbers, but I knew the parents from school pick-up/drop-off and could just mention it to them when I saw them.

Some had only phone numbers, but I got lucky and got an answering machine. Or in any case I was RSVP'ing "yes," which is a positive sort of thing to be calling about and has a good exit line ("Okay, so we'll see you on the 5th! Okay, bye!").

This week I had one where there was only a phone number, I didn't have a class list, I didn't have the parents' names---AND, I was RSVP'ing a no. It's a much more awkward call. There is the potential for accidentally falling into the nervous pitfall of over-explaining the reason for not attending, even though no one cares and the explanation usually makes it worse. And I haven't yet thought of a good exit line. "Okay, so then...I guess I...won't be seeing you at any point soon, ha ha nervous laugh. I hope she has a good party...even though we won't be there...I mean, not that I'm trying to say our presence was essential ha ha nervous laugh."

Here is the idea I finally thought of and used: the party was a home party, so the home address was on the invitation, so I had the child draw a birthday card and we mailed it. The child included words like "I'm sorry I can't come to your party, and I hope you have a great birthday" along with all the drawings and glitter glue and stickers.

ALSO, I could totally file this under Life Skills Training: the child wrote the address and the return address, put on the stamp, etc., as well as listening to a mini-lecture about always RSVP'ing. AND, the child was the one to handle the RSVP, which is good training for future independence!

I don't have a PHONE ISSUE, psh no! I'm just EAGER TO TRAIN MY CHILDREN!

40 comments:

Suzanne said...

You are a genius! A+++++ on the solution! Will remember for later!

p.s. The picture half of the captcha I had to enter for this comment looked EXACTLY like the face of a cat and I spent a good 90 seconds trying to figure out how to draw it in the box before I realized it was actually a picture of the number 13 in a box.

Heather R said...

Hahahaha!! Awesome! I don't even have a phone issue, but I HATE having to RSVP no over the phone, so I totally understand! You're brilliant!

Amanda said...

GENIUS! I'm totally using that.

Anna said...

That is a totally brilliant idea and I will have to remember it for the future. If there is only a cell/mobile phone number, could you send a text? I've done that before to avoid having to make a phone call.

d e v a n said...

haha! Good idea!
You might also want to try something called Sly Dial (http://slydial.com/) but only if you know it's their cell phone number.

Swistle said...

Anna- I will have to try that! I am a little embarrassed to say I didn't realize I could text people---because as soon as I say that, I realize I SHOULD have realized I could text people!

Swistle said...

d e v a n- OMG WHAT A GREAT SERVICE. I will have to try that!!

Charleen said...

I absolutely, positively, 100% have a HUGE phone issue, and will totally keep these ideas in mind when I start having kids with social lives that need to be managed by their parents.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Oooh, this whole post is full of genius ideas.

And who has only a phone number for RSVPing anyway? Don't they want things in writing? Don't they realize how much more organized and efficient that is? Who ARE these people?

Ann Wyse said...

Just felt compelled to chime in and agree: that's A GREAT IDEA!

Wendy said...

If you are sure it's a land line, you can still send a text. Copied from about.com:
"At Sprint, for example, just type a text message like normal on your cell phone and enter the 10-digit landline telephone number."

Tess said...

GENIUS.

I'm afraid I'm to the point where, if you don't include your email address, you simply cannot expect a high response rate. That is ON YOU.

Shelly said...

That is pure brilliance right there. Because a lovely, decorated card is FAR more thoughtful than a phone call. I love it!

Laurel said...

We also write thank you notes on the back of our 5 month old's "artwork" from daycare, which solves the problem of not wanting to throw it away or keep it.

MomQueenBee said...

Your lack of a phone issue looks suspiciously like my own lack of a phone issue, which has led me to drop out of organizations rather than be part of the telephone tree. And I didn't even have the excuse that I was teaching life skills.

Heidi said...

For my son's birthday party, I wrote my cell phone and stated that people could call or text. And I wrote my e-mail address, too. It wasn't until I read your post about how some people are not comfortable speaking on the phone, that I started giving more options.
Out of 20-something students, I only had about 5 R.S.V.P.'s - Ha!

I like your idea of having a child send a note.

Shalini said...

Totally genius and stealing the idea.

Kimberly said...

You are brilliant!

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Pure and utter genius.

Nicole said...

Who doesn't put email addresses on their RSVP? I had to RSVP no to a phone number only invitation and thank goodness I got the voice mail. "Sorry, they can't make it! Thanks for the invite! Byeeeee!"

Maureen said...

Wow, I truly had no idea so many people disliked talking on the phone. I don't love it, but I never had a problem calling someone to RSVP. My daughter is almost 18, so it was back in the dark ages when we were sending out invites with my home phone to RSVP. Some people back then didn't even have email addresses-hard to believe, isn't it??

gelka said...

Excellent work! I always include an RSVP email address because I mean, really, who wants to have more awkward phone conversations than necessary!

Anonymous said...

I'm being an anonymous chickenshit for this one, but honey: you really oughta get help with that phone thing. Kinda ridiculous.

Clarabella said...

Exit line suggestion: "Thanks for the invite. Sorry we can't make it! Have fun! (Even add a "Happy Birthday to Anna!")
The card is a lovely idea. I always wonder why people even request negative RSVPs. So weird.

Laura Diniwilk said...

Well, color me ridiculous, but I find these posts to be extremely helpful, and pretty much genius. Thanks, Swistle!

shin ae said...

Before you began posting about it, it never occurred to me to use my email address as the RSVP, even though I jump about ten feet in the air every time the phone rings. As far as I'm concerned, you've definitely done a public service with these posts.

About the card, I know my kids would far rather get a card in the mail from another child than a simple "no" from the parent via phone.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I have sought help, but unfortunately it was unsuccessful in resolving the problem. Luckily, I've been able to come up with work-arounds to help myself deal with it, since I can't seem to remove it.

Calling someone else's mental issues ridiculous really IS chickenshitty.

vanessa said...

anonymous clearly hates talking on the phone.

i really only like talking on the phone with my shrink, and very occasionally a good friend. but TEXTING IS MY BEST FRIEND. i suggest that! ;)

SM said...

I have the same phone problem and it barely effects my life tbh.

I insist on email contact from the people I work with - which is fine because we are spread all over the UK so it's really the easiest way. People catch on pretty quickly that the only way to get a timely response out of me is to email.

With my family and close friends I have been honest and just told them that I don't like talking on the phone and much prefer meeting up in person.

With less well known friends or acquaintances (school people, teachers etc) I do talk on the phone but usually make up an excuse as soon as any "business" is out of the way so the phone call is short.

Great work-around Swistle! That's definitely going into my memory for use at a later date.

I don't even want to "sort out" my phone problem - this is who I am. I have good points and bad points, who doesn't?

Leeann said...

You know, phone issues or not, it is just a really great idea. I love it.

What kid doesn't like getting Real! Mail! Addressed to him/her to OPEN? OMG! Never happens to kids and so it is super exciting.

I will definitely be doing this in the future. Pure stroke of brill that was.

ps- and WTF with these non-robot things? I can't even make out what the first one IS.

liz said...

What a terrific solution.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure you transcribed verbatim the message I left the last time I responded in the negative to an invite. I propose we return to the days of written invitations and replies. Much less awkward, much more civilized. Plus the USPS could use the business.

--Sheena

Sunk Costs said...

SOLID brainwork, madam. Solid.

Heather said...

another options is facebook invites..for my son's party i sent out real paper invitations and then after I was sure everybody had them and it was close to rsvp date I made a facebook invite, got much better response there! of the 13 people invited 6 said yes one said maybe, I think this is a pretty high return rate.
oh and I hate the phone too. I once had a bf breakup in part because I preferred to txt then talk on the phone.

Leigh said...

That is brilliant! What child wouldn't love getting a card in the mail, and you're absolutely right about how it moves the RSVP responsibility onto the child which is AWESOME Life Skills Training. Yay, you.

British American said...

Love this! Must remember this one too. We just got an invite with the phone number only, but I Facebook know the Mom so I wrote her on there, asking her to let me know if she got it, as I'm not sure how active she is on there and I never actually contact her on there. Glad I'm not the only one who hates the phone, especially for RSVPS.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

You are a goddess.

I am a phone phobic who married a phone phobic. Our only hope now is to have enough kids that hopefully one of them won't be, so we can push all our calling off on that one. ;)

As it is, lately our five-year-old is already taking over a lot of stranger-talking duties (like asking waiters for to-go boxes and the like), of his own volition. I feel so sneakily gleeful about this.

Emily said...

That is some brilliant reframing right there, Swistle. Nicely done!

theadventuresoflactatinggirl.com said...

I'm so happy that I'm not the only one with a phone issue! I'll definitely try your card idea in the future!

Clare Law said...

That's such a nice idea! I used to be phone phobic, but I had to get over it (worked on the local paper is why).

I made scripts for myself -- still do -- and practised and practised and practised. When I came to change jobs, the recruiter said: "You have a lovely phone manner." I glowed.

The script I would use for this occasion is: "Hi, is that xyz's mum? It's myname, mychild's mum.
and then, quickly before they have a chance to get a word in edgeways
Thank you so much for the invitation, but we can't make it, I'm afraid.
pause for some regretful response and when it's your turn...
Well, I'll let you get on. Thanks again for thinking of us, and have a lovely time on the 5th.

"I'll let you get on" is an incredibly useful phrase for ending a convo gently and quickly.