Recently, conversation has come up discussing children and birthday party invitations. It is probably fair to say the majority of these invitations are extended either by Evite, email or text.
These methods are fast, easy, cost little to nothing and advance planning is not required since having printed invitations can take some notice. As parents hosting these parties, all of this sounds perfect! We are all over-extended in our busy lives and for many, money is stretched thin. Why waste these valuable resources on an invitation that will just be tossed in the trash, right?
What about the children who are the intended recipients of these invitations? Where are the Evites actually sent? Probably to the parents. Same for emails and texts, especially for small children. The invited child may never actually receive or see the invitation. Remember how it felt in elementary school to receive an invitation from a friend? It was often hand-delivered at school with an “I hope you can come to my party!” Why is this important?
First, think about how it makes you feel when you receive a delightful, fun, festive invitation in the mail. This is an invitation the host thoughtfully selected and paid for just for you! You feel special. The invitation finds itself hanging in a coveted spot on the refrigerator and each time you see it as the date approaches you get a little more excited. It is something to look forward to. If small children are not seeing the invitations they are missing out on that special FEELING of receiving an invitation of their own. With their name on the front of the envelope. Do you get that same feeling when you receive an Evite, email or text to a party? Not likely.
Second of all, think about the social aspects and the learning opportunities that are being missed. If the parents receive the invitation they are probably checking their calendar and replying (although the lack of replying [Rsvp] to invitations is epidemic — we will pick that nit another time). Without the child receiving and seeing the invitation, how are they learning the basic social graces of what is expected of them in certain social situations? If the invitation says “Rsvp to Mary Sue at 555-555-5555” how are they learning the importance of actually responding “Yes, I will be there, thank you for including me” or “Sorry, I hate to have to miss the fun”?
In one of the discussions that prompted these thoughts, someone mentioned their older, college-age daughter loved stationery and wrote letters and thank you notes all the time. However, her younger daughter, still in high school, does not have any interest in writing thank you notes or letters. When asked if she had ever RECEIVED a letter or thank you note for something, the woman said “No”. It was suggested to have several people, including the mother, begin writing her letters and notes of thanks so she can FEEL the difference. Brilliant!
We are a technology progressive society. Technology has replaced the perception that we no longer need “outdated” or “old-fashioned” methods of social graces. Are we really trying to use technology and social graces interchangeably? Manners, consideration and politeness are interpersonal skills and these cannot be taught or executed effectively with technology. They are best learned and practiced face-to-face to then be carried over into our technology exchanges.
Maybe the value of a printed invitation and a personal handwritten thank-you note should be reconsidered. Something seemingly outdated can bring children joy, help build their confidence and teach them valuable, lifelong lessons. Go ahead. . .give yourself permission to plan and budget for printed party invitations and cute thank you notes. Not only will you be throwing an awesome party, you will be actively participating in the social growth of each child invited. Now THAT is something you can’t put a price tag on!