Birthday celebration costs raise questions
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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m about to host my own birthday dinner. I want to invite a few friends out to a nice restaurant, but I’m stuck on how I should split the check. Do I pay for only my portion and expect everyone else to cover their own? Or should I ask my friends to split the total cost equally? I don’t want to be tacky. How do I let my guests know that I do not plan to cover everyone’s meals? The bill is sure to add up quickly, and I can’t cover the full tab. — Birthday Etiquette
DEAR BIRTHDAY ETIQUETTE: What’s most important is that you communicate clearly with your friends so that everybody knows what the expectations are for the party. You may want to start with the restaurant to see if you can select a limited menu from which your guests can choose. That way, you will know what the meal is likely to cost.
In your communication with your friends, let them know you want them to join you to celebrate your birthday, but you are asking everyone to pay for their own meal.
Tell them the approximate cost of dinner plus drinks. Suggest that they bring cash or be prepared to Zelle or Venmo you at the end of the evening. By making it clear in advance that they have to pay, you limit the number of guests who come up short.
Many restaurants do not allow parties to split a bill more than three ways, which is why you need your guests to know that they must be prepared to pay with cash or to reimburse you electronically in the moment.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am the one who stays in touch with my friends, not the other way around. I know that everybody is busy, but I do not think the burden should fall completely on my shoulders to keep communication going. Literally, though, years could go by with some friends. We talk only when I pick up the phone. Once the conversation starts, it’s always pleasant, but I would appreciate somebody — anybody — checking on me. I honestly don’t think my friends even think about it because they are so accustomed to me keeping the ball in the air. I realize that I feel hurt by what feels like neglect. How can I address this without sounding pitiful? — Don’t Drop the Ball
DEAR DON’T DROP THE BALL: Next time you talk to one of these friends, tell them in a nice way that you would appreciate them calling you some time. Suggest that as you are all growing older, it would be nice to speak more regularly. Perhaps you can take turns checking in on each other. Depending on how close you feel to the person, admit that it hurts your feelings that they never reach out to you. Ask them to be more proactive. Without scolding them, invite them to reach out to you on occasion. The challenge will be that old habits are hard to break. They may not think to pick up the phone, even if they like the idea.