Inspired Entertaining: 10 Tips for Creating Successful Holiday Party Invites

1. Claim your date during this busy party season by sending invitations as early as possible, at least 3-5 weeks in advance of your event. Don't have all the details settled yet? Send a "save the date" email with as much info as possible, and get cracking!

2.  Unless it is a very formal event, virtual invitations are best as they make it easy to track RSVPs and follow-up. They also allow guests to reply quickly. I recommend Evite-alternatives Pingg and Paperless Post, which have crisp, elegant layouts and aren't cluttered with booze ads or tacky clip-art.

3. Be clear about who is invited. If guests can bring a date, say that. If it's a casual party and the more-the-merrier, let people know they can invite multiple friends. If it's a small sit-down dinner or intimate event, also state that. Don't place people in the awkward position of having to ask if they can bring someone. 

4. Send email/virtual invitations early in the day during the middle of the week. You want the email to hit your guests inbox when they're actively checking it and also near a calendar for planning. Avoid sending at the end of the day (when it can get lost in the going home rush) or weekend (when people are less likely to be sitting at a computer).

5. If you're inviting a couple, send the invitation to BOTH. The odds are higher that at least one of them will open and respond (or remind the other to do so).

6. Avoid including a "Maybe" option in your invitation. Force people to commit one way or another, and you'll be less likely to end up with a bunch of people who flake out at the last minute.

7. Immediately reach out individually to people who RSVP yes to express how excited you are that they are coming to your event. Let them know personally that they're not just there to fill a spot, but that you really are looking forward to seeing them. If it's someone you haven't seen in a while, this is also a great time to reconnect. Help create warm feelings that will get them as excited about the party as you are.

8.  Accept help when it's offered. People like to feel like they're a part of the event, so if they ask, task them with something small to bring or contribute to the event. This will also make them take ownership of it and therefore less likely to not show up at the last minute. Choose something personalized like "a dozen donuts from that great shop near you" or "Aunt Mary's incredible spinach salad." Or you can ask to borrow something for the party, like a cocktail shaker or ice bucket.

9. Set a firm RSVP date and use humor to make people take note of it.  I often say something like "We'll be heading to the store on the 19th to pick up the cocktail supplies. Please let us know by then if you'll be attending...otherwise it's lukewarm tap water only for you!"

10. Make it easy for people to get the information they need to attend your party. Include links to directions or subway info. If it's at a restaurant or other venue, include the link and address. If you recommend a nearby parking garage or hotel for out-of-town folks, include that. Yes, it's all info people can Google on their own, but most won't. Don't give them an excuse to back out.

What are your best RSVP tips? 

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