Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Birthdays: Happy for Who?

I went to a close friend's birthday party this weekend, and had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, today, my wallet is smarting. What happened? First of all, the present. I went the frugal route and went in on a present with some other friends. That way, we don't break our banks and she can still get something she really wants. That was $40, not cheap, but reasonable. So far so good. Then she decide to celebrate by renting a limo bus and having us take it to a club. We were warned that the bus would be $35 per person, but I was willing to accept even that, since club admissions, cabs, parking, and gas can easily add up to that much in a night anyway.
The trouble started when we got to the club. Since we were such a big group, they wouldn't let us in, even if we were on the free guest list (we were) unless we bought a table. Since the table wasn't reserved in advance, they could charge however much they wanted, and it ended up being $25 per person. Then I guess some people ordered drinks for everyone without asking, because on the bus back, we were asked to hand over another $25 per person for drinks, of which I had one and my boyfriend had none. Since he wasn't drinking at all and the party was for my friend, not his, I felt obligated to pay for my boyfriend's "share" of the drinks as well. So, I went expecting to have an expensive night at $75, and I ended up being forced to spend $150. I'm sure that would blow the budget of just about anyone that has one.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against spending a fun night out with my friends, even if it is expensive, but I don't like being forced to, especially without warning. If it had been a regular night (not her birthday) I could have chosen not to go, but since it was a birthday I felt obligated. If I had at least known the full cost ahead of time, I could have planned for it. I'm lucky enough to have enough of a cushion that this won't put me in major debt or anything, but she doesn't know every one of her friends' financial situations in detail. What if this was a huge problem for somebody?
I wasn't sure how to handle the situation, but ended up just paying that night and mentioning my concerns to my friend the next day. I'm not sure if that was the right way to react or not, but I didn't want to cause a confrontation on her birthday night. The whole thing is making me consider paying for all of my own party outright. Sure, it won't be cheap, but I can at least rest assured that my celebration isn't putting a strain on any of my friends. Because that's not what birthdays should be about.


GoldnSilver said...

I totally understand.

I think it's terrible that it is becoming the convention that the party host is making the guest to "contribute" to the party cost.

My view on this is, if you can't afford to throw a big party, then don't.

SavingDiva said...

The majority of my friends aren't that extravagant (limos, etc), so I don't usually have to deal with the hassle. However, I do have one...and she's getting married this summer. So take one birthday party and multiply times 3 (wedding, bachelorette party, bridal shower)...I feel your pain.

If you're concerned about straining your friends on your birthday party, why not consider a fun night at home? Maybe a birthday party with kegs and cake?