burger The following is an etiquette question sent to one of my favorite blogs, The Kitchn, from a reader:

A friend just invited me to his home for Thanksgiving dinner — and asked me to pay $50 upfront. I understand that hosting can be expensive and I wouldn’t mind being asked to bring a dish, but asking guests for cash seems incredibly rude. Am I crazy to be a bit miffed? Has anyone else experienced this? If so, how do you handle it? Should I tell my friend that this is not the norm?

Of course you’re not crazy to be miffed! What’s crazy is that people actually do this.

Have we forgotten what the word “guest” means?  Hosting friends or family for Thanksgiving dinner isn’t any different from hosting guests at a wedding or for your birthday party. It’s your obligation to provide the food and drinks (and the clean bathroom) because you invited them. A party is not the same as being out drinking at the bar and everyone mutually agreeing to chip in a few bucks to order a pizza; a party means you are the host and thus you are treating your guests.

But Jessica, people who do this may be thinking of angrily writing in the comments, I’m broke! And my friends eat like cows and drink like fishes!  

Okay then. Use the words “potluck” or “BYOB” on your invitation. Then your guests know they’re expected to contribute somehow and can find a way they afford.  Some guests will be able to bring a $200 bottle of champagne while others will be able to just bring a $5 bag of peanut butter cups. Both are perfectly acceptable. But you can’t ask your friends to cough up cash when you host a party.  It’s unbelievably tacky to put a price tag on your occasion. Guests are guests, not customers. I know the cost of food/drinks can be pricy for a large group of people, but that’s the responsibility you have assumed.  Your ability to make really awesome sweet potatoes doesn’t make it OK to ask your friends to pay to eat them.   If you can’t afford to host a party the exact way you want it to be hosted without asking people to chip in, then don’t host a party. Let someone else host, throw a less expensive party, or use those magical words “BYOB” or “potluck.”

Really, charging friends to attend your parties will exclude people. You don’t know what anyone’s financial situation is and it’s rude of you to assume you know. This is what happened to me back in college when a guy I went to high school with decided to “host” New Year’s Eve at his parents’ house. Along with the invite, he asked everyone to chip in $50 to cover the cost of food and booze. This wasn’t mutually agreed upon by a group of friends — this was just how he invited people.  Guess who was a broke-ass college student with a piddling little work-study job didn’t have $50, let alone $20, to spend on a night out right (especially after Christmas)?  A mutual friend felt bad I was broke and offered to treat me. But I was so repulsed by the “host”‘s bad manners — as well as the sneaking suspicion that he was planning to keep all the leftover booze he purchased with his guests’ money — that I went to a different party entirely.  It may have been less “fancy,” but I could afford to attend and had a good time.

So please. Have some manners and don’t make your hosting duties about the Benjamins.

[Image of a burger and money via Shutterstock]

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The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • Whaaaaaaat?!? The last time i paid any amount of money to enter someone’s “home” was in college and those were house parties and that was like $2 lol. 50 for dinner? Better be a helluva feast!

    Abeg, is it by force? If you can’t afford to host a dinner party, don’t host a dinner party. The end.

  • Me27

    In all my years on Earth, I have never heard of this. This is the most outrageous thing I’ve heard today. If you are renting out space to have a party and you are expecting people to buy tickets to attend, then asking for $50 is fine. But hosting a dinner at your house and charging guests is completely unheard of…I wouldn’t attend that dinner and I would assume this person was not a real friend just some random trying to scam people out of money. SMH…i know times are hard but damn, really; $50 for thanksgiving?!! I was able to eat at a nice restaurant here in northern VA for less than that a few years ago on thanksgiving day.

  • JaeBee

    So funny that this article should appear right at a time when me and my mother were discussing a similar situation…

    A woman from her church is turning 80 and her children have decided to “throw” her a birthday party (tacky invites that look like club flyers and all) yet there is an $80 charge ($75 if you pay before a certain date) to attend. Me and my mom were like, “where they do that at?!”. I can understand charging people if you’re hosting some sort of function like a fundraiser or conference…but a birthday party?! I think that just reeks of tacky (especially if you’re also expecting people to bring gifts). When you throw events to celebrate [other] people you should not expect the guests to fund your event. They should be there to add to the celebration–not pay for it! As a host it is expected that you will treat your guests as you are asking them to make themselves available to spend time with you. It’s just like dating…if you’re inviting someone on a date then you shouldn’t be expecting the other person to pay. Making things more inconvenient for the people you are hoping will attend/spend time with you will do nothing more than guarantee that there will be less people there to celebrate with you. If you can’t afford to host all your friends at your expense, then perhaps you should consider a less extravagant means of celebration, or just decide not to have a party at all.