July 8, 2020

It’s my party, and I’ll charge if I want to?

Dear Alix,

My birthday is just around the corner and I need to come up with a plan. Since it generally falls on or near Memorial Day I tend keep it low key as many people leave town; small groups over to my apartment for drinks, meet friends out at the bar, nothing major.

This year I have come up with something a little more fun. I would like to host a dinner party for about 20 guests.

The party would start with a cocktail reception in my apartment and then move across the hall to a vacant unit for a seated dinner. I would rent the necessary tables and chairs and set up, what I believe to be a great dining room with minimal decor that would allow for maximum impact. Being that I am in the event planning business I have access to discounts on most items, including a great caterer, rentals, and wine and I am positive it would be a great party.

So here is my question: Is it appropriate to ask my invited guests to bring $30 per person to subsidize the costs of this party? I would love to be able to pay for this all on my own, but being 26, going on 27, and in the event industry, my pockets are not that deep!

$30 for your thoughts,

– Penny-less Planner

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Dear Penny-less Planner,

Ooh, that’s a tough one, and I know whereof you speak: That desire to throw a fabulous party, if only you had the cash to make it spectacular.

The only catch is that really, you can’t ask your friends to pay to attend your birthday party. Unless you put a bit of a twist on it, of course…

How about making it a fundraiser instead, where you donate all proceeds from the dinner to a particular cause or charitable organization? In inviting your 20 favorite people, you could explain that you want to spend your birthday with them, have the chance to throw a great party, and benefit a worthy cause all at the same time. Perhaps you could let them know that in lieu of a birthday gift the suggested donation for the evening is $40, but if they felt inclined they might give more. And depending on the selected organization you might even have a thematic décor element present itself. Zebra-print table runner in honor of the Woodland Park Zoo?

If all goes well, you’ve covered your costs and you have at least $200 to donate to a good cause. Maybe you really can have your cake and eat it, too.

Happy early birthday, and good luck!