20-40-60 Etiquette---How about those last minute invites?
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By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: I am having a dinner party and have sent out the invitations. Some of the people cannot come. Is it OK to send last-minute invitations to a couple of friends?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: No, don’t send out “b group” invitations. Unless it is someone you literally forgot to invite. I would hate for them to find out they weren’t on the original list.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: You're walking a slippery slope here, and you run the risk of hurting someone's feelings if they find out that invitations were mailed weeks ago and they only recently got a phone call to come. I think it depends in part on how you invited guests and what kind of party it is. If everyone were invited by a phone call and it's an informal dinner, then I think it's OK to call up the person and invite him or her in a second round. If invites were mailed for a more formal occasion, then you can't invite the secondary guests last-minute with a phone call. Tread lightly and try to invite all of your guests early enough, whether they're on the first list or second, so that no one knows there were two lists. Keep in mind how you would feel if you found out you were invited in a second round and only after top-tier guests couldn't come. It does happen - we all want to include everyone each time, but people get overlooked accidentally or there isn't room.
HELEN'S ANSWER: It depends on the person. If the invitee is easy-going, understanding and not easily offended, invite her. If she might get her feelings hurt because she is a last-minute choice, then don't extend the invitation.
Usually, people invite a couple of extra people in case someone cannot get there. It might be better to do that instead of sending out last-minute invites.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, The Oklahoman night news director and University of Central Oklahoma Media Ethics Chair: As long as the friends won't know they were last minute substitutions, of course it's acceptable.
People have last minute gatherings all the time these days. To be sure you don't hurt their feelings if they do find out that the dinner had been planned for weeks, you might say, "We're having a dinner party and we'd love for you to come. I apologize for the last-minute notice. We didn't think we'd be able to have all our friends in this space, but we're making it work and we'd love to have YOU!"
A little white lie? Perhaps, but hurting your friends is worse.