Friday, September 9, 2016

Party Etiquette: Adult Birthday Party Hosting

Etiquette 101: How-to Host an Adult Birthday Party That Will Please Your Guests

Birthday Party Etiquette

Hosting an adult birthday party can be tricky, since many don't realize it isn't a gift-giving event.  If gifts are expected, the birthday baby could appear greedy.  Imagine an adult birthday party resembling a child's party focusing on gifts--very silly, indeed.  On the positive side, because gifts are not the focus, it opens up the possibility of hosting our own.  This is a plus for those of us who view our friends as the best birthday present.   Now we can have our cake and eat it too!

To assist us with hosting a party that will be viewed positive and polite, here's a bit of birthday party etiquette Q & A.


I invited 30 people (15 couples) to a birthday party I'm hosting for a 45-year-old male.  I designed the invitations to look like a ticket stub, which includes a door prize stub.  My question is this:
  • What are appropriate door prizes?
  • What should be the minimum and maximum cost of a door prize?
  • How many door prizes do I need to provide?

There is no one appropriate door prize, amount, or cost.  All is perceptual and a personal decision.  Base your choice of door prizes -- one per ticket -- on the formality of your party and your budget.    As host, you are responsible for all of the costs; please do not ask guests to pay for anything.  This includes their meals if hosted in a restaurant.

If I was hosting an informal party, my choices of door prizes would be bottles of medium priced wine, coffee table books (probably about wine or wine country), and baskets of goodies.  I’d spread the drawing of prizes out to create suspense.  Gift cards ($5-$10 maybe) to Starbucks would be nice too.  However, this is just my taste—coffee and anything wine related, throw in some chocolate and I’m in heaven.


I have a friend turning 30 who is planning her own birthday party.  The invitations stated that it is a 30th birthday party, but not to bring gifts.  Is it proper etiquette to plan your own birthday party?  Usually the spouse or friends host (especially since it is her 30th).  Originally, I wasn't going to go because I was so irritated by it.   However, I have since changed my mind since we have been friends for the past 23 years.  I am wondering what the proper etiquette on this is? 


If it is clear that no gifts are expected, it is considered appropriate to host one's own birthday party.  Therefore, she is fine.  Many single people want to celebrate their birthday with their friends; hosting their own party may be the only way they may.  So, go, enjoy, and don't feel badly.  

FYI: In the past, it was considered impolite to state that gifts are not expected in birthday party invitations.  Stating so would imply that we actually were.  However, with the expectation of gifts for everything these days, we now consider it is appropriate to do so. 


My brother wants to take his wife on a cruise for her 50th birthday.  He would like to "invite" a few friends and family to come along.   However, they will barely have enough to pay for their tickets.  How do we ask others to share the celebration, but to buy their own tickets? 


There is no polite way to "invite" and not host.  However, he could informally notify all about the trip, giving them the travel information if they wish to jump on the ship.  This way it is up to each person to contact the travel agent if they wish to travel--no inviting. 

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