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· The Red Death
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Haunters,

Like many of you out there we do a little Halloween soiree every year. We like to call it "The Gathering of Spirits". So 2018 marks the 10th annual gathering so I wanted to up the game a little.

We don't have a big house so our guests tend to max out at around 25-30. Typically it has been very informal gathering of friends and family. Basically an indoor evening cookout with Halloween decorations and costumes (which were mainly the kids). The food and music generally Halloween themed. In the last few years we added pumpkin decorating. Last year we added mummy-dogs (the kids get to make their own and the adults would handle the baking).

So for our 10th I wanted to try formalizing things more.

We usually send out invitations (sometimes fancy). But getting anyone to RSVP in any form (call, email, even accepting FB event invites) has been a constant hassle. Most of the guests are family and take the "we're family, we were invited and therefore obligated to go so no rsvp necessary" attitude. This year I'm thinking of enforcing it. It really does help in ensuring we have enough food and drink.

The other aspect is costuming. Typically it's been involuntary. The kids tend to wear the same costume they'll be wearing for Halloween night. With the exception of a few of our friends and myself (I always costume), the adults almost always NEVER wear costumes. So this year I want enforce a costumes required for all rule - fitting in with our theme -- WITCHES.

The mrs thinks it will be imposing because the kids will end up having to get or make two costumes. But I've really been hankering to do a fully themed soiree.

I suggested we ask family and friends for their input so we don't impose. But communication is not really a strong quality in this family. Because no one uses email anymore I tried FB Events and FB messaging to no avail. They have time to respond to animal memes I post. But not to important things. I get no responses from anyone. Yet they always manage to show for the party.

I just don't what to do...
 

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Family can be a pain, that's for sure. My wife has 3 siblings with no kids at home, and yet it's next to impossible to find a date when we can all get together for a holiday. It's a lot more work, but how about calling each one and discussing your plan. You could gently explain why it'd be nice if they answered emails— some of them probably can't imagine how much effort you put in the make this happen.


On the side, when you mentioned mummy dogs, I misunderstood and thought everyone brought their dog to be costumed as mummies. Might be a good plan...
 

· Super Moderator
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Hmmm, I still use email, but then, I'm old fashioned that way:)

Your problem with getting a response to an invitation is all too common. A lot of folks just don't seem to get the concept of common courtesy when it comes to an RSVP. I suspect part of that may be the amount of overbooking of life events most people deal with, which results in a hedging of bets when it comes to deciding where to go on any particular day.

I'm inclined to side with poplarhouse on making a phone call, and further suggest sparing yourself the effort of making a beautiful invitation that goes unanswered. As for the costume theme, the missus is correct that it may be seen as restrictive by your guests, particularly those who aren't inclined to wear a costume in the first place (another common complaint from hosts of Halloween parties). However, nothing wrong with encouraging it when you call, perhaps telling them you want to get a group picture for future posterity, one that will grace the pages of Facebook along with the animal memes, of everyone at their witchy best in keeping with the party theme:)
 

· The Red Death
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was hoping to have this discussion with them as a group so we could collaboratively work something out. I stopped using emails to communicate with them for family gatherings because everyone kept saying "message me on Facebook instead". So I do that and still next to nothing. Heck half of the invitees on the FB event haven't accepted even. Coordinating a family meeting isn't easy either. So its down to electronic. I can't stand having conversations with my mobile device. But looks like it might come down to group text messaging to get it in front of their eyes.

As for the costuming I did post about it in the FB event (for what little that's worth). And I think I was pretty fair. Gave plenty of choices which fit the theme. And even given them the option of coming in formal masquerade attire (dress clothes and a masquerade mask) if costumes were a burden.

Here's what I posted:

Going forward The Gathering of the Spirits will be transitioning to a costumed only event. So what does that mean? While this may be a family friendly event, all guests are expected to arrive costumed. Costumes should align with our theme which is typically Halloween centric (sorry superheroes and princesses). If a themed costume is not feasible for you or your goblins, masquerade attire is acceptable. Masquerade attire is formal wear such as coat and tie or dress complemented with a masquerade mask.

This year's theme is The Witching Hour. Costume choices should be anything related to witches, witchcraft, and black magic. Classic, period, or modern. Witches and warlocks are the order of the day. Don't limit yourself though. Other costumes which fit our theme are also welcome, including: Pagan Gods and Goddesses, Druids, Gothic, Faery, Steampunk, Historical, Dark Angel, Mythology, Medieval, Renaissance, Vampire, Fairy-Tale, and anything else that comes to mind. Not feeling creative - just think robes and pointy hats and you'll do fine.

Lastly a friendly reminder - this is still a family friendly event. Dark and creepy are always welcome and highly encouraged. But please avoid blood and gore in your costume choices. And of course no "sexy" or gag costumes please - this is not a college party.
Again, I think the above is fair. But maybe that's just me. Mrs says just don't do it. My thoughts are why compromise my vision without at least having a discussion with the guests first. If I went her way there will always be that nagging question in the back of my head of what could have been and didn't because we didn't ask.
 

· Clean "cut"
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As to the RSVP, when I receive something with an RSVP I always reply with a yeah or nay and the people I reply to are always amazed. Guess I am the only one who bothers.
 

· Super Moderator
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I agree you've given a lot of options for costuming, now that I see your note. Won't solve the problem of people not responding to the invite or folks still showing up in street clothes, but you gave it your best shot:) If it doesn't work out as you hoped, you can always go back to the status quo next year - and maybe consider taking repeat-offending non-responders off future guest lists.
 

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I guess I'm to old fashioned. I'm a firm believer in an actual written/printed invite with an RSVP included. If you include a pre stamped and addressed envelope for the RSVP. I makes it pretty tough for most to avoid.
In your invitation, include the theme, and the importance of knowing if, and how many people will attend. Maybe a costume contest or game that uses the costumed guests? Doing the invite itself in the theme can help get invitee's in the mood.
Suggestions for costumes may help too. Some people draw a blank if it's not a theme they came up with themselves.
I'm happy to help with the invite if you want it (the help, that is).
 

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We use To do a adults party every year, just a night to let the parents out to relax without having to worry about the kids getting into any drinks. We set it up as our naughty or nice party, . We picked a theme, made sure to let everyone know what it was and then still sent invites. NEVER got a rsvp back so i feel you pain. I tend to set up a "higher end" tiki style bar so 3-500 in bev-mo wasn't unheard of. Add to that the cost of food ( potluck style, but with no rsvp's you always feel like you need at least chips/dip and something else) so never knowing if anybody was going to show was nerve wracking. For this year i would go somewhat in between. Tell everyone the theme and both kids and adult costumes are requested. Might even have a bottle of wine or etc. and advertise a adult costume contest.
 

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State in the invite that it is STRICLY an RSVP access only party. Explaining why often helps too. If you have a "phone tree", call the few key friends and make them understand the necessity/importance of the RSVP, and let/get them to do the calling and cajoling of the other guests. Once. you get the ball rolling it usually works without much hassle.
 

· Headless & Haunting
Creating a massive fundraiser haunted house for our local Scout group.
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I LOVE Halloween party invitations and I sent them out every year we had a party. I agree that getting responses back is difficult but unfortunately society isn't anywhere near as formal as it used to be and so people are very relaxed about responding. I think the invitation sets the standard for the party regardless of what it's for so I tended to go for extreme to set the standard high! I would be afraid that nominating a costume theme might cause more people NOT to dress up. Personally I love seeing what people come up with - we have certainly seen some creative ideas over the years at our parties. We've experienced the opposite where we had never demanded people dress up but it just became the norm and those who didn't were actually the ones who felt out of place. You could try offering prizes for best costumes for girls, boys, men & women. This started to get to a hotly contested part of the evening for us where we had a full on costume parade and voting by clapping & cheering - lots of fun when everyone embraces the night.

http://merriyank.com/Halloween/2012/2012_Invitationa.jpg

http://merriyank.com/Halloween/2012/2012_Invitationb.jpg

http://merriyank.com/Halloween/2013/2013_Invitation2.jpg

http://merriyank.com/Halloween/2015/2015_Invitation4.jpg

http://merriyank.com/Halloween/2017/2017Invitationb.JPG

Hopefully that works........
 

· Headless & Haunting
Creating a massive fundraiser haunted house for our local Scout group.
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I actually put 5 photos up but can't see them. Does anyone else see them?
 

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No Headless, I don't see any photos.

Terrormaster, is there anyway you could have a couple of "stand-by" costumes on hand for the worst offenders? You probably already know who the hardest folks will be to get to dress up, perhaps you could borrow a couple one-size-fits-most costumes from friends, or hit the thrift store for creative alternatives.

A friend of mine is a lot like you, throws herself heart and soul into her Halloween party, but she is so darn sweet even the old timers will put on an outfit for her. She brings a few extra masks, costumes & wigs to her party for the guests.

Good luck, sounds like it will be a blast!
 

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We were really lucky I guess. However, we rented out the firehouse banquet hall and had parties for probably 125-150 people. The last few years we did it we set themes. The last few were "come as your favorite celebrity, author, singer, etc" so it was a lot less restrictive. I had movie themed food, it was BYOB, and I made Academy Award statue centerpieces. I made a walk of fame for the entryway, and had either a game or just awarded prizes. The game was that everyone received a number when they arrived to pin on their clothes. Everyone had to guess who each person was and whoever had the most correct guesses won the prize. The prize was a gift basket of a Horror movie, 2 of the Halloween goblets from Dollar Tree, a bottle of wine, some popcorn and movie snacks, etc. I never asked for an RSVP. However, if you want people to respond, just let them know that if they don't reply, they are not allowed in. Have someone at the door, like at the fancy nightclubs, checking off people's names when they arrive. :)
 

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I understand what you are saying because each year becomes less of people showing up in costumes at my house. In the beginning, they all did. Now it's very few that do. I didn't do this for this year but thinking for next year of adding to both my mailed invitation and my facebook invitation a comment that says something like: Uncostumed guests will be costumed by one of the creepy hosts. Ready to take a chance on what they will give you?" I have a lot of different witch hats so I am thinking I could have a lot of people in witch hats and a creepy cloth "cape." I think guests would actually have fun with that and maybe the year after putting some effort into it themselves when they see how easy it can be to have any sort of costume. I have tried costume contests with both silly and nice prizes (different years) and it is still always the same people who bother to come in a costume. Good luck and if you find something that works, let me know please! :)
 

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So much depends upon the personality/mentality of the guests. Some just come because it's a party (and something to do or drink), while others enjoy the spirit and camaraderie that comes with that kind of party. For many, especially if the party is in the middle of the week, they see the costume/theme side of things as too much labor/time when they know they have to get up and go to work/school in the morning, and many feel they've "Grown" out of the phase where they need or want to dress up. Oh, they still want the party, but they tend to take it as more of something catered strictly for THEIR enjoyment, rather than being part of it as an active participant. They kind of lose the idea that it's a chance for them to "escape" for a short period of time. In the end, you need to decide, as the party's host, whether those non-participating guests are worth the labor you put into your event. If not, don't invite them. If they miss a year, and ask why you didn't invite them, tell them the truth. You may find/make many converts to having better parties in the future.
 

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I know it may make me seem old (fashioned), but often times, an actual written or printed invitation gets better results, even if you ask them, or offer them the option to RSVP via the internet.
Evites, no offense, are often taken to have the value seemingly put into them, namely zero.
Something in the physical realm (real life) tends to be perceived as having a greater value to the recipient because it's a tangible object that shows you cared enough about it to go through the effort and expense to create, address, and mail them. It also gives them, the recipients, a physical reminder of the event, including all of the pertinent information.
 
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