Is the new normal to pass the costs of a party on to the guests?
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusively from the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas. (Have an issue you want help with? Send in a questiontoday.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have been invited to some retirement and birthday parties where the invitations stated the cost and that we, as guests, were expected to pay if we wished to attend. One invitation even stated that the amount was for dinner and a gift.
My feeling is that when you give someone a birthday or retirement party, the person throwing the extravaganza should be paying for the cost and not the invited guest.
Is this the new way of giving someone a party, or is this just a way for someone to throw a party that they can't afford and get the guests to pay for the party and in most cases bring a gift also?
"Crass, isn't it? But very common, Miss Manners is sorry to report."
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
A good friend of mine is expecting her first child with her new husband, and this will be the fifth child between the two of them. Although this baby was a surprise to them, they are so excited to have this addition to their family, and I would like to give my friend a small baby shower to show her the excitement and joy that we all have for this pending blessing.
A co-worker of ours expressed strong disdain at the thought of us giving a shower to someone having their fifth child. Further, she said that asking people to come to the shower is only making an obvious ploy to get needed items for the baby, which we know isn't true since the nursery is already complete, and my friend is perfectly capable of providing for anything this baby needs or wants.
This shower was meant to be a fun occasion to celebrate this child, and while gifts would always be welcome, my friend isn't expecting anything other than the guests being comfortable and enjoying the time to celebrate this baby; therefore she didn't "register" as she feels that is rather rude.
Am I wrong in giving her a shower? Should I call it something different? Should I care what this one person thinks?
"Why does it have to be a shower? Miss Manners notes with some distaste that the chief way most people entertain nowadays is at events connected with the giving of presents.
You are innocent of the usual motive. and free to choose another social form, such as a luncheon or afternoon tea. It is true that guests will still ask if presents are expected, but you can say no. For a shower, they wouldn't even ask."
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author ofMiss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior(Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. They have two perfect children, of course.
If only I was made of money....
This trend is not new. There is a fine line, in my opinion, but I have always thought it border being rude. Expecting guest to pay for their meal is one thing but to say you need X amount for the gift is RUDE. I also think it depends on the size of the function too. I have been to several retirement dinners at a local Chinese restaurant, we were to pay for our own dinner (under $10 a plate), and I didn’t think that was too bad.
Twenty years ago, we were invited to a pre birthday party dinner (it was us, the birthday boy and his wife, she invited us) and we paid for our own dinner. I was surprised by her not paying.
The most shocking time I have experienced was a birthday weekend for my husband’s cousin that we went to ten years ago. Not only did we pay for our travel to the destination (6 hours away), three nights lodging, and tickets to the sporting event where the birthday boys kickoff party began, then we were expected to not only pay for our own dinner at a very pricey steakhouse, they just rounded up everyone’s bill and divided it, including the bar tab. We paid for my mother-in-laws dinner, and our tab was $300 for two steak dinners, one cheese manicotti (no one had salads or side dishes) and two mixed drinks!
Expect to pay for your own food unless you hear or see otherwise.
Miss Manners (or whomever writes the column) used to give better answers to these questions.
a) "Organizing" a get-together is different from "hosting" a party in someone's honor. "Hey - let's all take Susie out to lunch for her birthday" should not generate outrage when everyone is expected to chip in. "My husband and I are hosting a party for Joe's retirement. Here's your invoice," is crass and should be declined.
b) The traditional definition of a "shower" is to shower someone with gifts. It is never polite to attend a shower without a gift. If someone can't afford a gift, he/she should not attend. But a luncheon or tea for someone who doesn't want gifts - perfect. The co-worker complaining in this case, however, is extremely rude.
The invitee is always free to decline politely without mentioning his/her objections to someone's reproduction choices or the party's financial obligations.
In the specific case of a graduation or retirement party or even birthday party I would say it is not necessary to bring money and your friends are crazy. Seems a bit brash? Maybe, but the bottom line is, if it is YOUR party then YOU pay for it. The most courteous thing to do or ask your friends for is to see if they can bring something. Example We are having our annual Halloween party there will be snacks, candy, food, beer, and soda. I expect about 75 of my friends to show up, please if you plan on showing up bring 10 dollars or $20 for a couple. If you pay now what's next tipping for the hospitality they offered you?
Would you go? I wouldn't. I know a lot of friends throw parties and ask people to bring a side or drinks or chips. Sometimes you can make something at home which is lighter on the budget. Ultimately it is up to you. Pay if it makes you feel better, but don't feel obligated.
My partner & i were invited to a double b-day party (1 was more of an aquaintance).
We made the mistake of giving them both a $ card when we got into the restaurant. Only later to be suprised w/ the suggestion from another guest that the guests split the bill. The 2 b-day boys didn't object & pd nothing! An expensive lunch for $125! TACKY!
Ideally, the cost of a party is covered by the host or hostess. However, in a few sitautions it is always shared amongst the guests such as a potluck,stock the bar party, brithday dinner out on the town or a bachelorette party. If you are choosing to throw a party and would like the guests to contribute with food, beverage, or cash, be clear about your intentions.
Paying for your own lunch at a "retirement" or "going away" party was pretty much standard in my line of work (contractor working for a private company on a contract with the Federal govt.), whether it was for a govt. or private company employee. The govt. people would not be able to accept a "free" lunch as a violation of Federal regulations, but the contractors always felt obligated to buy a "ticket" with contribution towards a gift included in order to maintain good relations with the govt. clients. I declined as much as possible unless it was someone I had worked with closely since I'm not a lunch eater and don't feel comfortable trying to be nice to someone who I didn't like and/or know well. The nicest parties where the ones with simple refreshments (such as a cake and punch) where we could contribute a small amount ($5 or $10) for a gift card for the honoree. I really object to parties where the hosts expect guests to pony up for the costs of honoring a family member (such as a milestone wedding anniversary or birthday) at an expensive restaurant.
Here is the thing, my aunt retired after the same job for 50 years on 2/1/13. Her anniversary date was 9/28/12.
When I planned the party the guests did want to pay thier own way, my aunt and I thought she should pay for the party.
We had a wonderful party with guests paying their own and their drinks, as we did not want to be responsible for some one drinking drunk.
Everyone is still talking how wonderful the food and everything was.
We had a about 60 people that were invited.
Crass I do not think so, it was at a restaurant, it was perfect. We kept the budget down and even had party favors for each guest to take home with them.
Please keep in mind and stress not everyone can afford to throw a big party and pay for it themselves. This way everyone is helping share the cost.
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