Dirty Thirties

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I’m hosting my own 30th birthday party, and I’m reserving a room at a lounge that requires a minimum to be spent on food and drinks. How do I let my friends know that they’ll have to pay their own way? — Ellen

The best way to go about having your guests chip in is to be up front with them. Add a gentle, tactful message to your Evite invitation such as, “Separate checks will be provided.” This gets the point across that they have to pay, but only for what they ordered. You can also note that this contribution should be in lieu of gifts to keep people from feeling like they need to pony up lots of dough for your big day. But if the minimum is not met at the end of the evening, as the host, you should be ready to cover the difference.

Some restaurants will work with you on arranging a set menu for large parties. This option lets your guests know exactly how much money they’ll need for the evening and what that money gets them.

If you’re opposed to asking your guests to pay at all, then consider hosting your birthday party at home. Whipping up some hors d’oeuvres — or even buying them from pre-made from the market — is more economical than footing an entire restaurant bill.

It’s great to keep all your friends in mind as you’re planning your event, but in the end, it’s your party. We think your friends will be happy to chip in for your big 30th.