If you're a social butterfly like myself, you probably have seen or sent out your share of party invitations over the years. If you're a shut-in, sitting amongst your crumbs of Cheez Doodles and getting to the next level on your role-playing game, you probably receive party invitations and shreik out "egads, what is this strange thing I received in my inbox?"
Never fear, I shall explain how to properly decipher the most common elements of a party invitation so you can act like someone who receives these things ALL THE TIME:
1) "Starting at 7 PM." This means you'd better not show up before 8 PM. Otherwise you'll be sitting on the couch watching the hosts do prep work. But see 2a) below.
2) "Snacks/Light Hors D'Ouevres Served". Eat dinner ahead of time, unless you plan to sustain yourself on potato chips like some piggish party guest.
2a) "Full Dinner Served." Dinner parties are different--then you better show up exactly on time, and RSVP as soon as possible, because much more depends on your punctuality.
3) "Additional Drinks Welcome." You'd better plan to bring at least as much as you plan to drink, though you don't necessarily have to drink only what you brought. In fact, you should expect that what you bring goes into the communal drink pot, and you'll be drinking what others' brought, and vice-versa. It's bad form to be too possessive about what you brought. Caveat--if you brought fine Chimay Belgian beer and some tool brought Natural Light, it's total bulls*it for him to drink yours.
4) "If I've forgotten anyone on the invite, please let me know." Make sure you RSVP about bringing extra guests so we don't get 50 when we're planning for 15. And no rowdy Dudebros who will break stuff.
5) "Cocktail attire encouraged." If you show up in jeans and sneakers you're a toolbag. Have some social courtesy, freak! Just dress up for a change. If someone's going through all the trouble to put this on, it's not asking you too much. You can "fight the power" some other time.
6) "Parking is limited." Take the Metro or walk, you lazy bastard! You probably bitch about global warming, too, hypocrite! Besides, you're going to get trashed anyway, do you really need to run down some kids on your way home?
7) "Please RSVP by [DATE]." This means someone's trying to get a head count so they know how much to buy. Don't be a jerk and check the invite repeatedly to "see who else is going" or simply not reply at all--that's obnoxious and you're not fooling anyone into thinking you are just so damn popular that you can't commit to anything more than a few days in advance. It just makes you look like a flake.