Dear Ms. Gwyn
A friend of mine is celebrating her big 3-0 birthday and I’m throwing her a party. She asked for a dinner with friends. We’ve reserved a private room at her favorite restaurant and coordinated a fixed menu with the chef. The cost per plate is a bit more than I can swing right now and I’m asking guests to cover $25 a plate. How do I tastefully indicate this on the invitation?
You are such a wonderful friend to coordinate the birthday party and meet your friend’s birthday wishes! Even better, although her wishes may be out of budget you are finding a balance between providing an over the top celebration with something a bit more affordable. As you pointed out, the question of tact certainly does come into play here.
I sincerely hope that no guest would arrive to a dinner at a restaurant expecting for the host, and certainly not the birthday girl, to pay – that would be quite the embarrassment! Equally embarrassing though would be the expectation that a guest could order a side of carrot sticks and water when a pre-fixe course was so thoughtfully organized.
To take the uncomfortable unknown out of the picture and set the expectations, here are some tasteful ways to indicate the events:
- Dutch Treat. Let your guests know that they are paying for their own meals. If you have it within your budget, you may choose to pay for a bottle or two of wine or champagne on the table.
- Cost Indicator. Your guests may know the price point of the restaurant or look at the menu ahead of time, but to really set the expectations when you arrange a set meal, indicate so on the invitation.
- Wording. Your wording should be simple and too the point. Depending on what you are offering, you can be light-hearted as well.
- Pre-Fixe Menu. Dutch Treat.
- We’ll crack the first bottle of champagne. Set menus, dutch treat.
With all of your graceful efforts, don’t forget to cover the birthday girl’s dinner… and to enjoy your own!