Q: I want to give my husband a surprise birthday party at a local restaurant; however, I can’t afford to pay for everyone’s meal. How do I word the invitation so that the guests understand that the party is dutch treat?
A: I’m sorry, but you can’t do that. If you are having a party for your husband, you are the host and are expected to pick up the tab for your guests. Just as you wouldn’t charge them to attend a party in your home, you wouldn’t charge them to attend a party out of your home. If a group of friends were giving the party it would be acceptable for them to say “We’re all getting together to celebrate John’s birthday at Restaurant X – it will be about $50 per person – hope you can come,” with an R.S.V.P. You can’t do this however when the party is for a family member. Since the cost would be too big, you might rethink your party and perhaps have it at home – brunch, lunch, a cocktail party, whatever, instead.