How to Indicate Dinner Cost on an Invitation

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!

4 Responses

  1. Getting says:

    I have a question. I don’t really have anyone to ask…

  2. Thersa Lecomte says:

    I comment whenever I like a post on a blog or I have something to contribute to the discussion. I do have some questions for you if it’s alright.

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