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May 5, 2010 08:36 AM

Etiquette for prix fixe where everyone is paying their own way?

Hi, I'm sure there is an answer to this, but I've never done this before and I don't know what it is...

I'm planning a party for my mom's 70th birthday this summer. There will probably be about 25 people, so I'm looking for a restaurant with a private room. However, we're planning to have everyone pay their own way since we can't afford to pay for everyone.

So it seems like with most places that have private rooms, you have to do a special prix-fixe menu for the party. So I'm trying to figure out how to word the invitation so that the expectation is clear but doesn't seem rude. From what I've gathered from etiquette sites, it's okay to do this, but it's all in how you word it. Any advice?

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  1. I think the most popular wording for this situation would be "dutch treat". I seem to remember getting an invitation to a family reunion gathering last year that just said "Dinner will be dutch treat" at the bottom.

    2 Replies
    1. re: justlauralibrarian

      And as an aside, the dutch term for everyone pays for their own is Amerikaans feest which translates to "American Party"

    2. "The cost for attending this dinner will be $xxx." You can also add "please send a check to me with your acceptance." Also add a cost for the gift.

      This will save you the trouble of having to collect at the dinner.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PeterL

        definitely have them send you a check with acceptance - how refreshing you will know how many are attending prior to the party. Give a date by which they must accept with the check because you will not accept cash at the party ie final numbers by ............ Make sure your figure includes tax and tip. It will be tacky for your mom to see people paying for themselves at the party.

        why extra for the cost of the gift? Since you are asking people to pay I would state on the invite gifts not expected.

        1. re: smartie

          Peter is trying to say in a slightly sarcastic way that he thinks the idea is gauche....

          1. re: Bryn

            Not really, although it may read that way. That's an afterthought in case there is general agreement for a group gift. Again the general idea is not having to collect money at the dinner.

            1. re: PeterL

              Oh sorry! The problem with the internet is no subtext!

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        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. Whether someone thinks it's proper etiquette to make guests pay (for dinner and/or a gift) is irrelevant.

            The OP has already decided to make the guests pay, the question is if you are going to make them pay, how's the best way to do it.

            My suggestion would be to come out and just say it -- e.g. "Cost of dinner per person will be $___.00. Please include payment with your RSVP." Or something along those lines.

            We shouldn't blast the OP for what *some* people may consider a social faux pas. What's a no-no for you may be perfectly copacetic to someone else.