Set a deadline for RSVPs, and clearly communicate this deadline with your guests on the invitation, or when you invite them in person. This is especially important if you are having any sort of activity (ie: a murder mystery, a White Elephant gift exchange etc) and also if you are providing food, especially a sit-down dinner with multiple courses.
As hosts sometimes we feel as though we are being pushy by following up with our guests for their RSVP. To counter this, just make sure that you communicate the reasons WHY RSVPs are vital to your party plans. Here are some examples:
* If you would like to be a suspect in this murder investigation, the deadline for RSVPs is Monday, November 16th. If you RSVP after that date, you can still be involved as a “Sleuth”, but you will not have a character in the mystery.
* As a five-course meal will be provided at our Holiday Dinner Party, please RSVP no later than Monday, November 16th so we can give our numbers to the caterer.
* My holiday party will include a White Elephant gift exchange. Because of this, please RSVP by Monday, November 16th so we can ensure everyone receives a gift at the end of the exchange!
A deadline for RSVPs can even a casual get-together, and most guests, once they know how important their answer is to your party preparations, are more than happy to oblige and let you know by the date you have set as the deadline.