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Who should pay for the birthday meal? (modern etiquette, not sure anymore?)

(17 Posts)
lizmcfizz Mon 31-Aug-09 22:12:08

My husband's big birthday looms, we are having a meal for his relatives at a relatively expensive restaurant, as a treat and a get together. At first it looked like it was just going to be his immediate family and that we would pay half and his father would chip in the rest (as usually happens). He has also invited his two half sisters (on his sister's suggestion) who are now bringing their partners and children. The total is now around 16 people. We have just realised that we may be expected to pay for everyone (approx £500) We don't have this much money. My husband is embarrassed to broach the subject of who is going to pay. We cannot risk the bill of that amount. I'm on maternity leave and we are skint. We could afford up to £100 but no more. His family is not particularly open or communicative and may have traditional ideas about this. I have no idea what the etiquette is these days. Any ideas or thoughts? How can we solve this cock up without upsetting people?

LaurieFairyCake Mon 31-Aug-09 22:17:19

Tricky. You are not 'having a meal for his relatives' - you are attending a meal.

It is most likely that everyone will insist on paying for their own, however given your financial circs it would be catastrophic if they didn't offer.

Your choices are:

1. be upfront and tell people they will be paying for their own dinner
2. cancel and have a party at home where you pay for drinks and snacks (should be under 100)

I would get him to talk to his dad to clarify this - why has it suddenly changed for him paying half? did his dad or did dh invite the extra sisters? whoever invited them needs to tell them they are paying for their own dinner.

thisisyesterday Mon 31-Aug-09 22:19:15

eep, i would presume to pay for everyone invited.
just had the same situation lol and i did ppay for all but it was relatively inexpensive.

that said, the guests did offer to pay and i just said no. it's tricky isn't it?

londonartemis Mon 31-Aug-09 22:20:44

Change the venue and host it yourself at home. Just explain that with so many coming it's easier to do it as a party at home, and will give a better chance for mingling. Then go to the restaurant- just the two of you- on another occasion.

lizmcfizz Mon 31-Aug-09 22:21:36

Thanks Laurie Fairy Cake.
As usual we just got swept away with it all. We are not very assertive I suppose, that or just laid back? I think my husband invited the half sisters after he was persuaded to do so. I'm sure his Dad woudl still pay half it's just that it's got out of hand with numbers. He needs to speak to his Dad and they come up with a plan. We can't have a do at our house as we don't live in our home town anymore.

bellavita Mon 31-Aug-09 22:22:22

My husband's big birthday looms, we are having a meal for his relatives at a relatively expensive restaurant - did you invite them?

At first it looked like it was just going to be his immediate family and that we would pay half and his father would chip in the rest (as usually happens). - Did he say he was going to chip in?

I think your DH needs to get on the phone and sort it out pronto.

We went to a birthday meal - very very good friends of ours (his 50th), but it was made very clear at the outset that we had to pay for ourselves - fair enough.

lizmcfizz Mon 31-Aug-09 22:23:59

We just don't do this enough with extended family. With friends it's simple - you split the bill and pay for the birthday boy/girl but with family it's never very clear.

TeaOneSugar Mon 31-Aug-09 22:27:37

When we're invited to a restaurant for a birthday party I expect that we will be paying for ourselves, I wouldn't expect the host to pay unless they made it really clear they intended to and we would probably still offer on the night unless it was just immediate family.

Maybe you could buy some wine or a round of drinks?

I think if there has been some discussion about the meal being payed for you probably need to clarify - we went to a restaurant for a birthday party once, having been told the hosts would be paying and then on the night it turned out they had paid a set amount, that had been spent on drinks - everyone had to pay for their meal and some people hadn't brought enough money and had to borrow from other guests or pop to the cash point, really awkward.

scottishmummy Mon 31-Aug-09 22:36:19

be clear from outset,everyone pays for their
own and chip in for dh

dont leave this unsaid,as you cannot afford the bill.however most people are gracious and do offer to pay

hope you all enjoy

bigstripeytiger Mon 31-Aug-09 22:42:16

In this situation I would expect to pay for myself. I agree though that it should be clarified in advance, especially if there are already communication problems with the family.

cat64 Mon 31-Aug-09 22:53:11

Message withdrawn

IneedacleanerIamalazyslattern Mon 31-Aug-09 22:59:41

See I think this is why meals in restaurants are always a bad idea for birthdays.

Nobody is ever quite sure what to do. I have no issue with paying my part or chipping in for the bill but I can also see why people would assume if you were arranging a meal out for a birthday that is is like inviting to a party so you pay.

We have a large family meal next month for my mum's 60th and my they are paying as they have invited everyone for it as they did for my dad's 60th.

I think if you get onto your in laws and explain to them and possibly hosting the party at their house would be a good option if possible.

Tinfoil Mon 31-Aug-09 23:10:27

If I invited everyone I would expect to pay. When I have been to family occasions that others have organised, they have paid for everyone.

If I wanted to meet up with people but I wasn't treating them, I'd say "We are going to X. You are welcome to join us. It's X pounds for two courses".

lizmcfizz Mon 31-Aug-09 23:43:41

Tinfoil, thanks. We will be better prepared for next time around! Just don't think about these things enough...

sushistar Mon 31-Aug-09 23:48:35

You could tell dh's dad that you want to swap to a less expensive resteraunt because you're worried about the expense. Hopefully that will start the conversation off and he'll say... ' oh, but I'll be paying for half...'

Tinfoil Tue 01-Sep-09 10:34:05

Sorry lizmcfizz, I know it's no help for you for this time blush

2rebecca Tue 01-Sep-09 13:36:45

I agree with tinfoil. This (and our family being widely scattered) is why we've avoided big birthday celebrations. They easily become expensive and very stressful. If you invite other people out to dinner you pay, if you expect them to pay you tell them at the start. It's up to your husband who he invites to his birthday not his dad. Now I'm an adult I would never expect my parents to pay for my dinner parties, he has a very teenage outlook. If you can't afford extended family then you don't invite them, inviting them and hoping someone else will pick up the tab is not a very adult way of doing things.

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