Q: I am planning a birthday party for my Mother. I would like to have it at a moderately priced restaurant. Is it bad manners to ask the guests to pay for their entrées. Can I do this at the time that I am sending the invitation?
A: When you host a party it is expected that you pay for the party expenses: the invitations and decorations, the food and drink, and the entertainment, if any. This is as true whether you host an informal dinner party and you buy and prepare the food yourself, if you hire a caterer or if you decide to hold the party outside your home at a club or restaurant.
I understand how expensive it can be, but you really can’t ask guests to pay their own way. Or perhaps there are a few people that would help serve as hosts and you could all share the cost.