Andrew Neil

Party Non-Etiquette

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I gave two big Christmas bashes this year, one in London, one in New York. Both included friends who are celebrities, such as Joan Collins, Michael Winner, Tina Brown, Harry Evans, Candace Bushnell, Michael Heseltine and Emily Maitlis, as well as many more friends and colleagues who are not celebrities but who are always a joy to see at the holiday season.


Both parties were a great success, at least judging by the attendance and the jovial atmosphere: no doubt the plentiful booze and canapés contributed. I certainly enjoyed them. But a couple of things have struck on the post-party haze.


First, the paltry number of folks who wrote thank you letters afterwards: it's not essential but it is polite. True, a few grateful guests sent handsome e-mails, which is all that is required for good manners these days; one or two even mentioned it on their Christmas cards; but you wouldn't need the fingers of one hand to count those who wrote an old-fashioned thank-you letter. I suppose that belongs to a bygone age.


Second, the large number of people who said they would turn up but didn't. In the run up to Christmas, when there are several parties a night in London and New York, it's entirely understandable when people don't make it (I've done the same myself). London has also caught the well-established New York habit of saying you'll try to make it when, in fact, you are "banking" it until a better offer comes along. Even so, only a handful bothered afterwards even to e-mail and apologise for being a no-show, which is surely only polite and shows you don't take invitations for granted. Bad manners: their position on next year's guest list will be reviewed.


Third, and worst, those who didn't even reply to the invitations. I know they got the invite because my office contacted their office to elicit a response in the days before the party. They are off the list altogether!


Now: let's see how my New Year's guests in France respond in early January ... I'm not holding my breath.