It's an all too common predicament — your birthday is just around the bend and no formal party is in the works, nor has a friend volunteered to throw something together. But it's your party and you'll celebrate if you want to, so you invite a group out to eat!
But who pays for whom? Is it a faux pas for everyone to pay for themselves? Is it reasonable to expect the organizer to foot the bill for the group?
Financial writer Michelle Singletary recently devoted an entire column to the subject, slamming people who expected others to pay at a celebration.
"I want to commemorate your life moments — your birthday, engagement, bridal shower .... But if you can't afford to host, stop charging me for your celebration," Singletary wrote. "Too many times, I've shown up for an event and been told after consuming the meal that I'm expected not just to pay for my food, but to chip in for the guest of honor."
However, an informal Facebook poll showed that more than two-thirds of respondents were OK with paying for themselves at a birthday restaurant dinner.
"I would pay for my own dinner and either chip in or totally pay for the birthday guy or gal," said Lisa Walden of Summerville, South Carolina in a typical comment. "At the very least I'd buy her a drink."
Amanda Wagner of Atlanta disagreed. "We invited a group for my 40th and we picked up the entire bill. I can't imagine doing it another way because they were all there for me and I invited them to be there."
So, who's right? A lot has to do with how the invitation is worded, say etiquette experts.