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DH 40th - paid bar??

(57 Posts)
Stellaface Mon 20-Jan-14 12:39:50

I'm planning DH's 40th for later this year (summer). We have a preferred venue (meaningful to us) and it's not hideously expensive to hire, but add catering in and suddenly my budget is blown! I earn a lot less than DH and would really like to cover this myself especially as it's meant to be a surprise, which I can do but only if I don't pay for everyone's drinks.

Until I've worked out all my options, I'm not sure whether it will be a small sit-down dinner and then everyone else along afterwards (in style of evening wedding reception) or just a free-for-all buffet and hope I've got the amount of food roughly right. I think it would be a bit cheeky to ask people who are coming from a long way to a party that isn't catered, so I think the buffet option is the only way forward, but then the numbers increases the catering budget to the point where I can't afford to pay for one round of drinks, let alone a free bar.

I'm also quite worried about wasting money needlessly. A lot of DH's friends, especially the ones who would have to travel, are quite unreliable (getting RSVPs for our wedding was a nightmare, I left DH to it and there was still some uncertainty on the day), so I don't want to commit to a certain amount of catering and then see food going to waste when that money could have been used on drinks instead. However, would be awful to not have enough food. The variation based on unreliable friends is over 50% of the guestlist, so quite a big difference! Thing is, I don't want to say anything to people until I have a better idea of what I'm doing, but then again I need a fairly good idea of numbers to be able to budget properly!

So main question atm is, is it ok to have a paid bar? Just one drink on arrival would add about another 25% to the budget, and I can't cut that off the food bill without being in serious danger of severely under-catering. The venue is a pub, so it's not like hotel prices for drinks...

lilolilmanchester Fri 24-Jan-14 13:32:25

You will get mixed responses to this but I think paid bar is totally acceptable and expected. Anyone who objects isn't a friend enough to be invited. Personally,would say food is a must

curiousgeorgie Fri 24-Jan-14 13:35:39

I think a paid bar is absolutely fine.. I wouldn't bat an eyelid at seeing this and would take money for the eventuality.

flowery Fri 24-Jan-14 13:37:06

I hate to say it, but if you can't even afford one drink on arrival you need to rethink IMO.

I also wouldn't feel comfortable inviting people from a long way away to a birthday party but then expecting them to buy their own drinks.

Having said that I don't think I'd mind paying for drinks if I were in the position of a guest, if it was a good friend/close family member.

I realise I'm contradicting myself.

hootloop Fri 24-Jan-14 13:38:04

I always expect to pay for drinks, I have never been to an an event of any kind with a free bar.

flowery Fri 24-Jan-14 13:40:25

There's a middle ground. I don't think a free bar is necessary or even normal, but I don't think I've been to any event where you literally didn't get even a drink on arrival, or some wine with dinner or something.

PuggyMum Fri 24-Jan-14 13:43:00

I wouldn't expect a free bar in this situation. If you feel like you should provide for those who travelled just buy them a drink at the bar throughout the evening.

People take the piss at free bars IMO. Get a drink then leave it lying around so just get another!

PheasantPlucker Fri 24-Jan-14 13:43:32

I think a pay bar is fine, but I've never been to an event that didn't provide the first drink.

Happy birthday to your dh in advance smile

Felix90 Fri 24-Jan-14 13:45:20

I've never been to or even heard of anyone else going to a party with a free bar. I'd always expect to pay for my own drinks.

MissMilbanke Fri 24-Jan-14 13:46:15

if it were a sit down dinner I would expect a bottle of wine or 2 on the table.

Then i would be perfectly happy for a pay as you go bar afterwards.

hootloop Fri 24-Jan-14 13:48:00

I think I must have really poor or tight friends. A birthday party, engagement party, wedding reception etc all involve hiring the pub function room, someone's mum doing a buffet and all pay for your own drinks (all of them).
I think I live in a different world to mumsnet sometimes.

princessalbert Fri 24-Jan-14 13:49:30

You say 'paid bar'

do you mean a 'free bar' - as in it is free to the guests- you will pay the bill at the end?

Or do you mean a 'pay bar' - as in guests buy their own drinks at the bar.

I think it is perfectly acceptable for guests to purchase their own drinks. Especially if it is a buffet type party.

For a sit down dinner- I would probably buy some wine for the table - enough for a couple of glasses per head - and then guests can buy their own if they want more after that.

You don't have to provide drinks.

flowery Fri 24-Jan-14 13:54:22

I don't think I've ever been to a catered, hired function room event for a birthday actually now I think about it.

ilovepowerhoop Fri 24-Jan-14 13:57:56

dh and I hired a hall for our 40th - we had a buffet (the venue provided it and we paid for it) and hired a dj and the venue had a bar so everyone bought their own drinks. We didnt buy the first drink for everyone either.

lilolilmanchester Fri 24-Jan-14 19:07:22

Sorry, but people who say 'if you can't afford to buy drinks, don't have a party' live on a different planet to most people. It would have cost us am extra£500 to pay for first drink at our last party at an external venue. Venue hire, DJ and food was already best part of £1000. If it makes you feel betterOP, say no presents, people can spend their money on drinks instead of gifts.

Bowlersarm Fri 24-Jan-14 19:12:29

It's difficult. On the one hand you are saying to people living far and wide, come and join us for DH party. You have travelling costs, possibly a hotel, plus a present, and a huge contribution to the evening.

Some people will be happy paying out, some won't.

Maybe the answer is to let everyone know exactly what is included before they commit to come?

nobutreally Fri 24-Jan-14 19:13:22

I've been to a few buffet type 40th, and in a few there was a drink on arrival, in a few there was a paid-for bar up to a certain amount, and in some, you paid from the get go. I would always expect to pay for my own drinks at a party.

(We hired a village hall and laid on a buffet, & bought a reasonable amount of booze, but asked people to bring a bottle as a contribution to the bar. We ended up in profit at the end of the night grin

Ra88 Fri 24-Jan-14 19:16:57

I have not ever been to a party where drinks have been paid for by the host ! Always expected to pay for our own drinks.

onedev Fri 24-Jan-14 19:19:25

I think it's perfectly fine for guests to buy their own drinks & the vast vast majority of parties / functions I've been to like you describe have all had bars you pay for as a guest.

mamalovebird Fri 24-Jan-14 19:20:49

I did a party for DH's 40th and it was a paying bar. I laid on a big buffet though. I wouldn't expect it to be free.

Rindercella Fri 24-Jan-14 19:22:03

Firstly I would say don't split the party. Either have a sit down dinner for a few close friends OR have a full on, everybody is invited do and provide the catering you can afford.

I would never expect for my drinks to be paid for, but I know when I have hosted parties I have always at least paid for the first drink. I remember the surprise party for DH's 50th was held in a restaurant and I organised for pitchers of cocktails to be served on arrival. Could something like that be an option?

BackforGood Fri 24-Jan-14 19:22:24

I've never been to a party where the hosts buy all the drinks.
If a party is in someone's house then I'd expect to arrive with a bottle / contribution to the table as it were, and if it were somewhere with a bar, I'd expect to buy my own drinks.

Rindercella Fri 24-Jan-14 19:23:51

Incidentally, I have been to parties where I've had to pay for drinks, had a couple of sausage rolls and then been asked to cough up £15/20 for the food!! shock shock

chipsandpeas Fri 24-Jan-14 19:28:07

i would always expect to pay for my own drinks at a party

AtticusMcPlatypus Fri 24-Jan-14 19:29:00

I've been to lots of 40th birthday parties and have never batted an eyelid at having to pay for drinks. Usually a buffet is provided but drinks are the guests respinsibility.

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