A week ago I participated in a dialogue with another reader that I found to be a thought-provoking conversation, and I asked her if I could share it with my readers. Especially since it’s the holiday season and most of us are invited to parties!

Do you ever find yourself in an awkward situation when it comes to party invitations?

Do you stick with your gut and keep your boundaries, because you were planning an “intentional gathering,” or do you turn “nice” and do what everyone wants you to do, thus causing resentment and a party that you wish you’d never had?

I’m going to call it the naughty or nice conversation, as I’m conversing with my reader. What I’ve learned is that most the time, situations work themselves out … but not always …

Here we go …

HER:
I just rec’d an email that I am having a myriad of feelings in reaction to. I’m having some neighbors over for some holiday cheer in December. I worked hard at accommodating schedules since there were three houses that I wanted to include, and they were all important to me. After some coordination, we’ve arrived at a date, and I thought all was well. Today, one of those neighbors invited emailed me, “Can I invite X and Y?” (other neighbors that I don’t really know, but she does) So….what do you think about that? In the past, we’ve been to a gathering at her house that included the woman of the couple. Other than that, I’ve never really dealt with them.

ME:
My take is that if it’s a very casual open house … then why not? If it’s more of “let’s get the 3 families together for an intimate time” … then, no. You could say that you’re really looking forward to a more intimate time with just the 3 families. Also, she could have those families to her home. But again, if it’s really casual, it could be fun!

HER:
Your response confirms my own see-saw response. On the one hand, what harm? On the other, I already picked the people that I wanted to have to my house (and I find it odd that she would want to invite them herself to my house). I emailed my husband and asked him what he thought, and his response was, “Who are they???” One of the families included is new to our neighborhood, so I wanted them to meet the two families that I am closest to–so inviting someone that I don’t really know changes that. I guess it’s really a call between “design” and “flexibility”….hmm.

ME:
I believe in “intentional” hospitality. I’ve been faulted for this. I also think it’s a personality issue. Some people are more “come one, come all.” I have a more purposeful approach. Wanting to introduce a new family to your friends, I think you should stick with your 3 families. Just say you wanted a more intimate party this time.

HER:
One thing that I neglected to include is that when she asked me this, she included all of the invited people on the email–so now everyone will be privy to the question and my response…which definitely was a choice I wish she hadn’t made!

ME:
Ok … well, that changes things. Mm-m-m, that’s not classy! Let me know what you decide. 50/50.

HER:
What do you think? I followed my gut and tried to be as diplomatic about it as I could. Here’s what I sent as a “reply all”:

Emily–

With no intention of being Scrooge, I am going to say “no thanks” to inviting Connie and Bob. Except for the one time you had Alexandra over at your house with us, I don’t really know her and don’t know Bob at all. While this might make for a nice opportunity to get to know them better, I was planning a smaller gathering of those I included.

Hope you still find me merry…
~Karey

ME:
Let me know how it goes.

THE NEXT DAY …

HER:
Thought you’d be interested….I heard back regarding the “awkward invite situation.”

Here’s what Emily had to say on the subject: …and in case I didn’t respond to your last email, OF course I think you’re MERRY. I shouldn’t have extended myself like that and asked to invite folks you don’t know! SORRY!

So let’s close that chapter! All’s well that ends well!

ME:
From the beginning you had our boundaries, you knew what you wanted, and you were firm. Look how it worked out?

HER:
It turned out pretty well. I had come to the conclusion, prior to sending the “final decision” email, that I was either going to have to truly be good with inviting the additional people, or I was going to have to speak the truth in love. After letting the afternoon go by and trying to let it “settle” on me, I realized that the additional people, in my opinion, were going to add a dynamic that I wasn’t seeking when I decided upon the gathering. SO…I tried to say it as honestly yet kindly as I could. (Even though I could have been warmer.) :)

As I said all along, I believe I know Emily well enough to know she meant only good, and I am happy to see the outcome only reinforces that!

I realize this is a long post, but we’ve all been there and have struggled with party invitations – and feeling ‘naughty or nice.’

Welcome to the holidays! :)

How do you handle awkward party invites? Do you ‘go with the flow’ or do you have a more ‘intentional’ approach?

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