Open Thread

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.


  1. Pam

    I want to have a surprise party for my Mom’s 80th birthday. Unfortunately my sister & myself do not have any money to have a luncheon or dinner (even if we make all of the food ourself). Would it be OK if we just had desserts & coffee. If so, what time for the party is appropriate & do I state on the invitations-dessert & coffee will be served?


    • Jody

      Pam, I think that dessert and coffee would be a lovely idea. I also think it’s perfectly fine to specify what’s being served — either in the body of the invitation (you are invited to a dessert and coffee party in honor of our mother’s 80th birthday) or at the bottom (maybe a line under or above the RSVP line). As for time, I’d say mid-afternoon might be good but others might have different ideas.

      • Alicia

        A dessert party would be lovely. Aim for a non meal time either say 2-4pm or 7-9pm. I would either call it simply a dessert party or simply invite people to come for birthday cake.

      • Elizabeth

        Germans have a lovely tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen, or coffee and cake, which takes place in the afternoon. It’s sort of like British afternoon tea. Following these traditions, I too would say that afternoon would be a great time for a dessert party. People will have already eaten lunch, and this will be a nice snack before dinner.

        • Jazzgirl205

          When I was young, my mother and her friends would have morning coffees. This was a party at 10 am that featured coffee and various cakes. These parties were more convenient for housewives with school children. It was very similar to afternoon tea in that the ladies dressed up and the hostess made the table look as pretty as she could.
          Maybe a morning coffee would work for you.

  2. This is an lovely way to throw a charming party for your mother on your budget. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have an occasion. I also think that afternoon is the perfect time – you should avoid mealtimes and people do get peckish late afternoon. Surprise parties are tricky and I’m assuming you know that your mother is the sort who would be tickled you and your sister threw one for her.

    Yes do put that it’s a dessert and coffee party or a cake and coffee party. It’s always a good idea to let guests know what to expect. That way there are no surprises. I’m sure everyone will enjoy this delightful party.

  3. Yelena

    I just started a new program and have a lot of classmates. Every week there are at least 2 birthdays. I get invited to parties at people’s homes, at restaurants, in bars. I am on a very tight budget, and was wondering – is a gift expected in these situations? The invitation just states to come and celebrate. So, if I show up to a restaurant and just pay for my dinner, is that sufficient or should I also look to bring a gift? How does one know when a gift is expected?

    • Elizabeth

      For adult birthday parties, especially in the situation you describe, presents are not required or expected. Perhaps if it were a hosted party, in which you were treated to drinks or dinner, you might feel more obligated to give a gift. But it sounds like in your situation the birthdays are an excuse to socialize. I wouldn’t worry about bringing a gift unless the person was a good friend and you wanted to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *