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Asking your friends to pay?


I have a birthday coming up and what I really want to do is cook a 3 course meal. Antipasti, Lasagna (from scratch with fresh pasta) with veggies and salad and a desert plus wine. For 10 + this meal could run to around over $400. That's more than I can afford/want to spend. Is it bad form to ask the invitees to chip in, about $30 per person? Have you ever cooked a meal for your friends and asked them to pay you?


  1. How well do you know these "friends", what do you think they would think?

    Personally, I'd be somewhat miffed if you asked me to chip in for your birthday whether you cooked the meal or invited me to a restaurant.

    1. Maybe it's me, but I don't see how a lasagna (made from scratch) dinner for 10 could cost over $400.
      I'm sure some of the guests will bring wine. I don't think it would be out of the question to ask a few of the closer friends to maybe supply the salad and desserts.

      1 Reply
      1. re: monku

        I can see the cost if you are doing top quality ingredients all the way. If you are including wine, the cost can skyrocket depending upon taste. However, never would I ask my friends to chip in for a homemade meal. That is my gift to them (I'd like to think). Otherwise, I would set it up as a potluck with suggestions--if asked. Cocktails/wine can always be scaled back if you decide to go it alone. Good luck and happy birthday.

      2. I think it's bad form to ask guests to pay. Otherwise, they are not guests, they are sponsors. However, there's nothing wrong with lamenting aloud to your close friends that you'd love to cook a really nice dinner for them and a few others, but don't really have the means, and see what happens.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Isolda

          Sorry, have to disagree. Fishing for compliments is bad, but fishing for contributions? The only thing for which one should fish is . . .fish.

          1. re: gaffk

            I wasn't suggesting an overt fishing expedition. I was thinking more along the lines of "I was thinking of cooking a fancy three course meal for you guys, but (laughing) I'd have to charge people if I tried something like that. I am going to make myself a birthday cake, though. Why don't you come over for pizza on Friday after work?"

            Hearing that, I'd offer to make the cake or come up with ideas for making the three course meal less expensive, or even offer to bring some of the ingredients and help as my birthday gift. If others don't, well, then pizza and beer are a fine birthday meal for a person in his/her 20s, as I assume the OP is.

            1. re: Isolda

              personally i'd be insulted by a friend who uses subterfuge or less than direct speech.

              if these are friends - then "i wan't to cook dinner for all of us, but to do it the way i want to, given my economic state, i'd need help paying for all the ingredients" is truthful, direct, and refreshingly lacking in bullshit

              1. re: thew

                I wasn't thinking of subterfuge at all. My hypothetical commenter is more than willing to make the pizza and have that instead. I agree that subterfuge is wrong, but subtlety is fine. I think we're so used to direct, in-your-face language these days that people have forgotten how to give (or read) gentle hints. I think a direct plea for help paying is crass, but a joking hint that entertaining is expensive is fine.

                But in all honesty, I think people should entertain only in a style they can afford without asking for help. This goes for small birthday celebrations to weddings. If you can't afford booze, have cake and punch for your celebration.

                1. re: Isolda

                  Here's the problem with "gentle hints" (ignoring the manipulative aspects).

                  Many people do not get "gentle hints". Then when people do not respond as the hinter wishes, the hinter gets upset. The person who didn't get the "hint" doesn't understand why the hinter is upset with them, and then that person gets upset.

                  Let's not do the "gentle hint" thing. Adults really don't need to behave like that. Being direct doesn't have to mean being rude. Just be direct, without being rude.

                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    I agree with you about gentle hints. I know there are lots of things I'd like to do but can't afford, so I can't see mentioning one of those activities as coming across to someone else as a hint that I'd like him or her to pitch in. If someone told me he'd like to host a fancy dinner at his house but can't afford it at the moment, I'd think that he was just giving a reason why he's serving budget-oriented options or having a potluck. It would not even occur to me that he's giving a gentle hint for contributions.

                    In this case, I still think the direct approach is just as bad, as it puts the guest on the spot. However, at least when someone says no or looks uncomfortable and says yes, you know that person understands what you mean.

                  2. re: Isolda

                    "gentle hints" I have to tell you, nothing annoys me more than people who cant say what they mean and mean what they say. ESPECIALLY in this case a direct approach would be best. Too much can be lost in translation.

                    leave the "gentle hints" to what you want from your spouse for christmas

                    1. re: joe777cool

                      The reciprocal of this is: never make a request if you are not prepared to hear No as the answer. Often, people making requests are not so prepared.

                      This dynamic is a bit easier between (1) total strangers, and (2) full intimates.

                      But, groups of friends often include people who are in-between; there may be higher-activity-but-lower-intimacy relationships in the group. Indirect communication tends to thrive in relationships where intimacy levels are shifting and evolving. Food and feast rituals can exacerbate this because they involve appetites and pre-rational impulses.

                      1. re: joe777cool

                        You folks would totally hate my family, then! I grew up in a family of uptight WASPs where *nothing* was ever stated explicitly. Subtle hints were how we did business. But I will concede that many of us did need therapy....;)

                        Example 1: "What an interesting dish!"
                        Translation: "Wow, this really sucks! Everybody stay away!"

                        Example 2: "He seems nice enough, but his table manners are a bit common."
                        Translation: "Your boyfriend ate with his face level with the table, used his fork like a backhoe and shoveled his food in his mouth, making the most appalling noises."

                        1. re: Isolda

                          Isolda: "she's so sweet... bless her heart"

                          meaning; I think she's mentally disabled

                          or "law no it is delicious, but I could not have another (second) bite"

                          meaning: gimme a moment and look the other way while I spit it into my napkin

                  3. re: Isolda

                    I wish people would read all the comments, otherwise why post? OP said he is no "spring chicken". Hopefully, that is older than 20s.

              2. I would not feel comfortable asking my friends to pay for dinner at my house, especially if it was to celebrate my birthday. Then again, I usually go away for my birthday in a vain attempt to avoid any celebration (buggers always want to take me out before I leave or after I return).

                If you want to entertain your friends, but do not have the budget for a three course meal, why not invite them over for wine & apps or wine & cheese? You can even ask your closest friends to bring a bottle of wine if you like.

                Like monku, I don't know how a lasagna dinner for 10 cooked at home could cost $40/pp. Then again, I don't know what kinds of wine or food you have in mind.

                11 Replies
                1. re: gaffk

                  Maybe they're charging for their labor too.

                  Just out of curiosity maybe the OP can provide an itemized list.
                  Antipasti =

                  1. re: monku

                    Profit =

                    You forgot profit.

                    How do I put this delicately. Anyone enterprising enough to charge for a dinner party at home, surely accounts for at least a minimal profit margin (after facctoring in for overhead -- i.e., things like water, electricity and/or gas, use of silverware and plates, tables and chairs, etc.)

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I've made killer lasagna in those disposable turkey roaster pans(easily could feed 10) for like $25. No fresh pasta but everything else from almost scratch.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Somebody sure sees the glass half empty! While I think $30/pp is a bit steep of an ESTIMATE, depending on the alcohol and ingredients it could come close. The op spoke in very general terms "could run" and "about $30," to jump to the conclusion that the author is trying to make a profit off their friends isnt fair at all.

                        I put up a similar thread over the summer about a party I was throwing and wether it was ok to ask for donations or not. Hopefully this thread stays civil, as mine sure didnt. Some posts turned condescending and downright personal. Not all of us have the money to throw the parties that we once did or (as chowhounds) would like to - and that leaves us looking for other options. If you dont understand this or cant offer a suggestion without being condescending than maybe this isnt the post for you! (not directed at anyone)

                        Anyways - my advice, after having a similar situation, is do what you can afford. Turn it into a potluck of sorts - 1 guest brings a bottle of wine, 1 a dessert, 1 a salad - and you provide the main course. You cant have artistic control of a meal and expect others to pay for it. If you want to have 100% control you will have to pay for it 100%.

                        1. re: joe777cool

                          Maybe poorly chosen words by the OP, but ......

                          "Have you ever cooked a meal for your friends and asked them to pay you?"

                          joke or no joke.......sound's like they want to "profit" off their friends.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          Sorry, but no. I give the OP the benefit of the doubt and think (s)he is using high-end ingredients for an over-the-top dinner. Unfortunately, if (s)he charges for dinner, this is the type of comments that will be circulating. Especially if it is for his\her own b'day.

                          Go with the apps & wine or cheese & wine--whichever you feel you can afford. If you "charge" your guests, you will be subject to like of minku & ipseditx, who think you are looking to make a profit from the dinner. And although I am a reasonable friend--really?

                          Now here's where I get snarky--if you're over 18, your birthday is no longer a national holiday. If you're over 25, run the other way on your b'day.

                          1. re: gaffk

                            I don't think I ever said the OP was looking to make a profit.
                            I'm surprised a home cooked lasagna dinner for 10 "could run", "about" $400.

                            When you say "high-end" ingredients what are you talking about....black truffles in the lasagna? The OP never mentioned using high end ingredients, that's an assumption other posters are making.

                            1. re: monku

                              If the OP could make pasta with truffles for only 40/person, I'd like to get her supplier's info.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Costco.com sells this pack of 7 oz truffle peelings and two 250 mL bottles of truffle oils. $100 That should be enough for ten people.


                              2. re: monku

                                I am still not getting how it can cost that much without alcohol. I remember the most expensive meal I made, it involved $30/lb prime steak, uni and lobster, and less than $40 per person without alcohol.

                                1. re: ribeye621

                                  I am including wine in that number. And as I said it was just an estimate.


                      2. wow $400?? I am doing T-giving for 10 and I don't expect to spend more than $100-150 which will include the turkey, sides, dessert and apps to eat before we sit at the table. Wine can be bought for $5-10 a bottle - ask your friends to bring the drinks.

                        1. The answer is "NO" to both of your questions. When you entertain, entertain, don't become an unlicensed restaurant. Either trim your guest list, or change your menu. But I think $400 for ten people and what you are serving doesn't quite jive. Make another choice. I assume you are a younger person, and I know a lot of young folks do this, but that does not mean it is right or acceptable. It is VERY BAD form.

                          Rethink your dinner.

                            1. First off, it's a personal thing but I would NEVER ask guests to chip in to pay for something I'm cooking. Never, never, never! BUT... I might have a pot luck and ask friends to bring stuff. If I did that, I would also ask another friend to coordinate the food, then ask everyone to let that friend know what they're planning to bring so we didn't end up with everyone bringing dinner rolls. That said, where in heaven's name are you shopping for it to require $400.00 for a lasagna dinner! Or do you have to buy a stove too? '-)

                              1. I've cooked meals for friends. I've cooked meals for church activities. I've cooked meals for family and extended family.

                                I shop ahead of time, buy items on sale and plan.

                                I never ask for money. Usually the people invited ask if they can bring anything and I have a list of those things which I could buy at the last minute or let them feel useful bringing. These items include ice, paper towels and/or paper napkins, fancy-ish condiments ( mustards, horseradish, real mayonnaise or some appropriate sauce), olives/pickles/marinated-jarred something for a relish tray and wine or lemonade or iced tea.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Cathy

                                  Ice or fruit, but only if it's family. Otherwise, your presence and no presents.

                                2. I believe a champagne appetite on a beer budget is poor form. No, please do not charge an admission to your dinner guests.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: enbell

                                    With all fairness, in the OP's situation, I think it may just be better to make a less expensive and affordable item, but I have had parties where I have "charged" the guests.

                                    We're all students, and so in the invitation I make it clear that I'm going to have a dinner (usually Hot Pot), where I'll be prepping and shopping for the ingredients, and that we'd all split the cost of the ingredients evenly.

                                    1. As you can tell by some of the responses here this can be a little tricky. I think your idea in philosophy is a good concept but maybe you can tweak it a bit so you have a great birthday doing what you want and don't risk offending our friends.
                                      Now of course all of this depends on what kind of circles you run in and how close these friends are. I would propose doing it this way. You pay for and cook the main course and maybe an antipasti dish. You should be able to do this for 10 people for under a hundred dollars. Then ask some of your closest, trusted friends if they wouldn't mind bringing salad and other sides, dessert and so on. Basically you're hosting a pot-luck and providing the main dish. Since it's your party you are shouldering a larger share of the investment and your friends are filling in the gaps.

                                      1. I'm going to agree with everyone else and say absolutely not. At least if you ask your friends to accompany you to a restaurant, they can pick what they want based on their budget, likes/dislikes, and appetite. Similarly, a potluck offers the same opportunities. I imagine your guests will be wondering how on earth the meal could possibly cost $30 a person.

                                        1. Tacky to the fifth power. If I couldn't afford to entertain I would stay home and eat a ham sandwich and still have self respect in the morning, and friends who are not newly suspect of my principles.

                                          1. i will be the lone voice here, but asking people to chip in for meals is ok. it's no different from having a pot luck, only they dont have to do any of the work.

                                            i used to have regular dinners, that were sort of a game with my friends. they would bring ingredients, without talking to each other first, and i'd have to make it into a good dinner. that was fun.

                                            don't treat it as a formal dinner party. explain the situation. true friends understand.

                                            of course if these are less than really close friends don;t do it. but if by friends you mean real friends - there are no rules between people who love each other.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: thew

                                              If I'm asked to bring something to a potluck, I can decide how much I'll spend for that item to prepare or buy.

                                              If any true friend of mine asks me to pony up $30 to attend a dinner party at their house I'd be appalled. A loved one like family, I'd be appalled too.
                                              To me $30 isn't chipping in, that amount makes me feel like I'm "paying" for my meal.

                                              1. re: monku

                                                I agree with your distinction between chipping and paying for the meal. If I go over to a friend's house for a dinner, I might chip in by giving $5-10 or bringing a dish. Beyond that point, you're just paying for privilege like you would at a restaurant, but you get no choice whatsoever in what is served.

                                            2. Yes, it's bad form.

                                              No, I've never--and never will--ask my friends to pay for a dinner I'm cooking.

                                              You must have some trepidation about this as well or you wouldn't be asking. When in doubt, listen to your instincts.

                                              1. Oh my, I hadn't expected this kind of response. To clear a few things up, I am no spring chicken and I have no intention of making a profit off my friends. They/we would only be paying for the food. $400 may be an over estimate, but it does include wine. I could do this for much less and that would be fine, it's just not what I had envisioned.

                                                I want to take on the challenge of cooking the entire meal from first bite to last sip. I want to use the best ingredients (no truffles, I hate mushrooms). I've made this lasagna many times. When I've used generic tomatoes or cheap cuts of meat or cheese, it's not as good. Another part of this challenge is since they are paying for this "it better be good." I like that added pressure. I would never try this if I didn't think I could pull it off, but the best laid plans and all. It adds an element of spice.

                                                If we went out to a restaurant, which I've done many times, everyone would pay for their own and someone would pick up my tab. I'm sure the tab at the restaurant would be more the $30 per. Other than the selection issue I don't see this as being very different, but I see that it has struck nerve here. I do have trepidation at making this request and will have to give it more thought. I know these people well and have cooked for them before where I picked up the tab. Their offers to chip in have always been happily declined.

                                                With the tone that many of the responses have taken I fear that I'm going to continue to get ripped (especially for the mushroom comment). I am truly not trying to take advantage of anyone so please be nice...or you will not be invited. :)

                                                Thanks for your thoughts,

                                                17 Replies
                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                  Your intentions are innocent but flawed; your fellow hounds are encouraging you not to make a mistake. Among us non-spring chickens, at the end of the day we have our reputations. Don't flush away a lifetime of good character by shaking your friends down for 300 bucks. The evening will be much more fluid and comfortable if you don't. And as someone noted, you can cut back on your wine budget and serve what your friends will surely bring.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Gotta agree with Veggo. Let your buds bring the wine - if they are like you when it comes to food and drink, they will approximate what you have in mind there. If the rest of the menu still isn't within your means, then maybe it just isn't in the cards right now. Times are very tough for a lot of folks right now - maybe for you as well. Many are having to realign priorities, reconfigure their way of doing things, and obviously the food/drink budget becomes a major target. Unless you are in a close circle of friends who would completely understand your logic, I really wonder how your idea would sit with any of your friends, and it only takes one out of the bunch to start up with regretful words.

                                                    To me, keeping things simple with friends over is important. And simple can hopefully keep things within a reasonable budget. In this case, it seems to me that the lasagna is the centerpiece of the meal that you have planned. A few decades ago, Stouffer's would have been more than acceptable in most circles. Today, you could walk into a well-stocked Italian market or gourmet store and spend a fortune on the makings for lasagna. Is there a middle ground in your recipe? Whatever the case, maybe you can put your efforts into the lasagna, and let your friends know that you're planning on having them over for lasagna, and you can either make suggestions as to what else to bring (being too specific though would IMHO put you back into a wierd situation) - almost like a pot-luck. Since it's for your birthday, the gifts that your friends bring you are their own little offerings of other foods or wines.

                                                    You can send out e-vites mentioning the situation to your friends, and in their responses, they can mention what they plan to bring so others will know what has been covered and what still needs to be picked up. We have a close family of friends that really took a huge hit in their finances when the economy went south. Still wanting to keep their chins up and stay in touch with everyone, they had a few get-togethers where themes like, "What can you bring that's $5 or less to the party?", or "I made this from stuff I got from the 99-Cent Store." It made total sense to everyone, given the dire state of the economy as well as everyone knowing the family's stressed finances. Our friends are slowly recovering, but it took a lot of retooling, selling off of a lot of assets and living a toned down lifestyle. If $400 is out of your budget, then maybe it's time to reconsider your strategy or go to a plan B.

                                                  2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                    If you're going to make your friends pay, better off going to a restaurant.

                                                    If you want to entertain them at home, maybe bring them back for dessert or something. But I still wouldn't make them pay, however.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      If this were an arrangement among friends previously agreed upon to chip in, it'd be OK, but what I would do is find something cheaper you can make which will not break the bank. Someone posted lasagna, and that's a good idea.

                                                      Usually, all expect from guests is a return invitation to their house to eat at their house sometime. I get irritated if I'm the only one holding dinner parties. Not repaying the favor, I consider, bad form.

                                                    2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                      Your idea could work but it would be nice to be a little more thrifty where you can. Perhaps also think of doing it like a gift registry, where people could choose the item they want to put in for? That way, your friends also get to see the menu/what they're paying for so they understand the costs involved and you pick up the essentials and whatever doesn't get chosen.

                                                      1. re: jubilant cerise

                                                        You are a genius! I am so taking this idea! Seriously, you have made my night here.

                                                      2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                        The answer is still "NO." Excuses are not reasons. No.

                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                          Jr - you know your friends better then anyone here. If they get the spirit of your request - which is pretty clear to me - and they value your friendship more than some hard and set rules that take no specifics into account, which as friends i assume they do - you know how they will react.

                                                          they will not stop being your friends if you float the idea. and if they do stop being friends - well, they werent in the 1st place anyway

                                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                            I have thought of doing similar things when I have gone all out and prepped for a dinner party. I never have gone through with it. I realized how much I was dropping for one meal. Once I passed $125, I realized that once you buy 3 bottles of wine and a main course, even a simple meal can add up quickly. (3 bottles for 6 people is not unreasonable at all, even at $12/bottle) One: are your friends as into food as you are? Would they see the worth in paying $30 for a home-cooked full stops meal? You'd be using way better quality ingredients than any place that would charge $30 for a meal including wine. Are your friends the type of people that would be cool with this?

                                                            I think that if you really want to do this, send out an email to your friends to ask them if they are interested in the dinner, and explain why you want to do it. See if there is enough interest. It sounds like you want the challenge of preparing and the joy of eating a meal that would go for $100 a head in a nice restaurant. (Antipasti: 12, Salad: 7, Pasta: 24, Dessert: 8, wine: 27 (that's 3 glasses per person), apperitif, 8. Add tax and tip, you are close to $100 at a good restaurant. I certainly wouldn't invite my friends out to a meal that would cost each person that much, but breaking good bread with friends could be magical.

                                                            I have read so many threads on this board from different subsets of people. Some want complete control. Some people want to to spread costs.

                                                            "Don't bring things to a host's house; when I hold a dinner I want complete control of the meal." "People bring wretched quality wine to a dinner." "I want to match all the components of a meal together. " "I can't believe I was asked to bring dessert for everyone." "Don't they understand that I wanted to pair the wines to the courses?" "If I am invited, I shouldn't be expected to bring anything but myself."


                                                            "Have a potluck." "Buy you spices at the Dollar Store". "You don't need the fancy pants stuff." "Your friends can bring you wine for $5-$10 a bottle" "Let your friends bring everything but the main course." "I am so uncomfortable with showing up to a meal without a contribution."

                                                            I'm going to buck the system. If you honestly think your friends would be good with this set-up, give it a try. But don't invite them first and then present a bill. Express the meal as your birthday present to yourself, and how much you want to share it with your friends. And if you go through with it, please post the results.

                                                            1. re: thinks too much

                                                              I think this is exactly how it would go down. They are aware of what good ingredients cost, hell one of them works at Whole Paycheck, and they enjoy buying and using the "good stuff", but y'all have scared the bejeezus out of me.

                                                              lol at presenting a bill afterwards. I honestly think some of the responses were based on this concept. Serve an expensive dinner and then afterwards ask for payment? Would make for a good Youtube video. If I were to do this it would all be up front.

                                                              I'm likely to cut back and have guests bring wine.

                                                              We'll see.


                                                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                i think we 3 alone feel this way.

                                                                but we 3 happen to be correct ;)

                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                  LOL! You're sounding like a politician, Babe... "I'm right and all of the other candidates are wrong." Hey, some people win elections that way. But in this case, I disagree. I would differentiate between entertaining in my home and say, having a pot luck picnic in a park where everyone brings something. When you entertain at home, part of the challenge is coming up with a menu you can afford. If you feel a need to charge guests, then maybe a career as a restaurateur is a better choice.

                                                                  Another option would be to have a progressive dinner. One course at each person's house, no added fees for participation, and the cost of food is automatically shared. But if the host wants to have all of the glory as the spotlight cook of the evening, then the cook/host needs to figure out a menu that is affordable without a guest tariff.

                                                                  But an added problem to the OP's original scenario is, what happens if only half or even a third of the guests accept? Do you call everyone who has accepted and tell them the tab has gone up? You may be able to figure a specific menu for ten guests is going to cost twenty dollars per person, but that does NOT mean you can cook the same menu for two people for forty dollars. It just doesn't work that way.

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    It has been interesting hearing all the different sides. Just because there are possible complications doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be attempted. I think it really comes down to the specifics of the group. For the one poster, whose friends had worked in kitchens, it seemed to work out fine. I remember an episode of No Reservations, either Portland or Seattle, where a group of restaurant workers and food lovers got together for special meals and everyone paid.

                                                                    Years ago we did do a rotating dinner party. It fizzled out for a few reasons. People moved, lost interest, but mainly some people felt it was a competition and didn't enjoy it anymore. I'd like to get that going again. I now live 25 miles from most of these friends and I don't get to see them as often as I'd like.


                                                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                      That was me- our group of about 12 loved doing this- a pro cooked meal/cheese course/wine for $30ish- what a deal. We were a bunch of geek scientists, and had all the fun and familiarity of friends, the great food of a restaurant in a casual and convivial setting.

                                                                      I wasn't there when it all started, so I don't know how the subject was broached, but I think it was because a frustrated ex-chef just wanted to whip up a feast. He was the only chef at these for quite awhile, held at the home of whoever had the biggest kitchen.

                                                                      Good Luck- but you may not be able to pull of as a birthday thing.

                                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                                      there are other ways to have people over than the formal dinner party - which i would never dream of asking someone to chip in on. (but the chances of me throwing one are pretty slim)

                                                                      but a birthday dinner with and for friends does not have to be formal, or even semi formal. it can just be good friends gathering in celebration. it isn't "entertaining" it's getting together.

                                                                      with that mindset it's an entirely different thing

                                                                  2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                    "I'm likely to cut back and have guests bring wine. "
                                                                    If only our Congress could equally ask, listen, balance, act.
                                                                    cheers, JB

                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                      That would truly depend on WHO they listen too. :o)

                                                                      And as is usual with life, not perfect, but perfectly acceptable.


                                                              2. well the way i see it is you shouldnt have to pay for anything on your birthday, thats the whole point. when i want to cook for my friends i usually ask them to bring ingredients and then its more of a pot luck, community thing. the downside to this is its difficult to control quality

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: wastelandmanstan

                                                                  Maybe you shouldn't have to pay for anything on your birthday, and it's great if you don't.... but expecting it is another story.

                                                                2. This is a terrible idea. Please don't ask your friends to pay for a meal that you want to cook. Instead - if you really want to invite 10 people - scale back the cost of the meal. A situation like this really puts your friends in a really awkward position - you invite them with the caveat that they have to pay $30 per person - and what if they want to come but can't afford to pay? Do you un-invite them? Or do they just accept the invitation and then feel bitter about it? Eek - what a scenario. And I also can't see how antipasti, lasagne, veggies, salad, dessert and wine can come to $400 unless you're really splashing out on the wine.

                                                                  Amendment to above: ask friends to bring the wine. They will inevitably ask what they can bring so that's your answer. This will cut down on your cost.

                                                                  I will admit however that I have ORGANIZED large dinners - usually something like a huge lobster roast - and had everyone pay for their own lobster. But these events are mostly potluck and I'm the only one with a place big enough to accommodate such a mess, so it's not the same thing.

                                                                  1. Absolutely not. You could do a potluck, but asking for cash is a big no-no.

                                                                    Lots of people are short of cash, especially in this economy. That includes your friends - you have no way of knowing what their financial circumstances REALLY are.

                                                                    If you don't have the money to entertain, you just don't entertain. Roll back your expectations, especially when they impinge on others. You can spend time with friends without breaking the bank, yours or theirs.

                                                                    1. The only thing I can compare this to is the AI dinners where people donate what they feel the meal is worth (but not towards the cost of ingredients, that's down to the host ), or the "cook for the cure" dinners.

                                                                      Something else to think about: many people who don't cook a lot, or don't cook with higher quality ingredients, often don't have an accurate concept of what certain things cost. I sold cakes for a while and ran into a little of this, especially with the low cost cakes and such sold at places like Costco etc. Anyway, the thing is, if you charge people for food as a home cook, people may also think you are over-estimating your culinary abilities as a result.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                                        "many people who don't cook a lot, or don't cook with higher quality ingredients, often don't have an accurate concept of what certain things cost"

                                                                        and often wouldn't appreciate or understand (or notice) the effort. but yes I have to agree with the no-ask policy, whenever I've had folks over I buy a few back-up bottles of cheap-ish wine and encourage more if asked, express gratitude if surprised with more and serve theirs holding back mine as I figure their palates will be sated by the time we hit the cheap stuff.

                                                                        co-hosted a party once and the co-host was speculating along these very lines, I pleaded no and so we just turned it into an elaborate potluck (we were doing Riijstaffel anyway (sp?) so it worked out pretty well.

                                                                      2. "Is it bad form to ask the invitees to chip in"


                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. I'm in the "this is a really bad idea" camp. While your vision for the evening sounds great, you can't afford it. No shame in that. There is some shame in thinking you are entitled to it anyway.

                                                                          1. The only way I can see this working is if your friends invite you out to a restaurant for your birthday dinner. You say, "Thanks, guys, but would you be open to buying the ingredients of a high-end meal that I will cook for you?" Tell them what you plan and let them choose.

                                                                            1. Seroiusly. don't do it. For so many reasons.

                                                                              1. A friend of mine offered to host a Thanksgiving dinner this year and I believe he's going to ask for donations as well. Although I love him and I know he's a good cook, I feel like it's bad form - if you can't afford to host a dinner, sorry, but let someone else host it or scale down your plans.

                                                                                The most uncomfortable thing is that he and his wife are new friends for good friends of mine, and I am going to have to tell them to expect to pay at this dinner. His wife even said that we could bring other dishes and if they're "good enough" we won't have to pay... come on!

                                                                                I don't think it's tacky to offer to host and ask for people to donate dishes, especially if they're your good friends. I do think it's tacky to ask for money, and I feel it lends an uncomfortable air to the whole event.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. The only way that I can see this being okay is if there is a precedent set.

                                                                                  For instance, I have a group of friends, some of which left the professional kitchen for desk jobs, and occasionally miss creating a menu for a crowd. We occasionally get together and one of us will source, prepare, and buy the right wines, etc, and the cost is divvyed up at the end between the non-cooks.

                                                                                  This is a fun night out for all, and all know how it works, and it's always a great food experience that runs about $30/head.

                                                                                  But- like I said, we've been doing this for years. If you want to start a tradition like this- I wouldn't start on your own birthday.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: cheesemonger

                                                                                    I was thinking the same thing... IF you want to try doing this, AND you feel it's something you could comfortably discuss with your friends beforehand (just floating the idea with them, without making it sound like you're shaking them down), then it could work, but I wouldn't do it on your birthday when your friends might feel a sense of obligation to go along with your plans.

                                                                                  2. Don't ask for money. Asking friends to bring the drinks is perfectly ok. If you can swing it without paying for the wine, go for it.

                                                                                    1. As someone who is both poor and the only person in my immediate social circle who really enjoys cooking and entertaining, I have had this dilemma myself. If I don't host, no one does, but I can't afford to be the sole financier for such things. I think if your friends know you well and would understand why this would be meaningful to you, you should be able to at least put out feelers without too much damage being done. Then again, my friends aren't sticklers for etiquette by any means. As far as the suggested donation, I would say only invite people for whom you know $30 won't be a hardship - perhaps people who you are relatively certain would be spending that much on a present or something anyway - and then make it clear that this would be a special gift that would bring you much joy.

                                                                                      Would it be possible for you to take on some of the cost yourself and bring down the per person request even a little? That would certainly help, and you could give the lower price as a suggestion, with the hopes that people who had means could give more.

                                                                                      I do agree with a few other posters about things to note, though, especially that people often have no idea what quality ingredients cost. If your guests aren't food people, there is a good chance they will think you are being needlessly extravagant.

                                                                                      Good luck, and happy birthday!

                                                                                      1. If you charge them they are not friends but customers.

                                                                                        Btw, if you did a cheese souffle with good bread, a simple green salad and a simple soup (say, using the Marcella Hazan tomato sauce with onion and butter as a soup, which Marcella approves of) and a modest bottle of wine, it would run you maybe 10% of what you are envisioning, and people would be even more blown away (and souffles are *very* easy once you master the mise en place). Eggs are a poor hosts friend.

                                                                                        But this is seriously way out of line as an idea. It's a fundamental confusion about hospitality. People may not complain to your face, but you can be sure it will leave lingering judgments you do not want.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                          if you make a profit on them perhaps they are customers. if however this is more along the lines of
                                                                                          'hey guys - lets put together a dinner for my birthday" they are participants.

                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                            No, plenty of restaurants have customers and go under because they don't make profits. When you are charged, you are a customer. Especially in the context where the honoree is the person charging, because it puts the customers in an awkward situation of making it more difficult to decline. Which is a double offense against basic hospitality.

                                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                                              not charged. chipping in. not the same.

                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                Um, where a "friend" feels pressure (however slight) due to the requester being an honoree, it's charged, and it is the same. That's the social nuance that is lost on someone like the OP as an erstwhile host.

                                                                                                It's chipping in when the friends as a group decide what they are going to give and give it in advance without the host organizing in anyway.

                                                                                                Otherwise, it's a customer situation fundamentally. And a serious etiquette failure.

                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                  It's not lost on me or I wouldn't have asked the question in the first place. In addition there is the possibilty that I don't ask for any money, cook an elaborate meal and then everyone feels obligated to chip in. What if some of them hate the meal? Oh my how awkward. There is a chance this could go awry. There is also a chance it could work out great. In any case as I said ealier I am unlikely to go forward with the original plan.


                                                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                    That's why I said "someone like the OP" because I wanted to get the focus off you individually and onto similarly situated people who might have similar questions.

                                                                                        2. It must be just me, but I don't get the concept of throwing your own birthday party?????

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: CocoDan

                                                                                            It's a personal thing. If you asked me what I want to do on my birthday I'd say cook. What's not to understand?


                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                              Oh, I get it. Some one asked you what you wanted to do for your birthday? Not established in your original post.

                                                                                              1. re: CocoDan

                                                                                                Sorry CocDan, some of the replies were getting under my skin and I bit at you. My apologies.


                                                                                          2. Only throw the party you can afford. Charging your friends to eat at your house is just awful.

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                              "Charging your friends to eat at your house is just awful." and "If you charge them they are not friends but customers."

                                                                                              It is CLEAR by now that the op is not looking to make money off her friends, only to have them SHARE the costs of the ingredients for a meal SHE IS GOING TO PREPARE - ON HER BIRTHDAY at her own home. I have been a bit on the fence about this - but now im with the OP. If your clearly explain what you are doing beforehand, and these people are true friends, there will be no problems at all. If somebody doesnt want to participate or cant afford too - no hard feelings. If some shallow person thinks less of you because of this event (as some posters have suggested) well then too damn bad!!! These are tough economic times - things change, including and there are alot of people stuck in the past. You dont have to be a follower - go ahead and set the precedent...its your birthday.

                                                                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                Yes, it is tough economic times - for everyone. And putting your friends in the position of having to turn you down for a $30 or $40 PER PERSON home-cooked meal is not a considerate act. $60 per couple is a pretty hefty price tag in ANY economic climate. If things are tough for the OP, it seems likely they're tough for the OP's circle of friends as well. Heck, times are tough for most of the country.

                                                                                                Entertain as you can afford. As someone else said, champagne taste on a beer budget is not something you should expect your friends to support.

                                                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                  I agree, but only up to a point. It is one thing to not be able to put out $350 for a single night, how many of us can really do that comfortably on any kind of regular basis, and another to be able to afford $30. They are not comparable. Which is not to say that means it should be ok to ask for what I've proposed. There are many personal and individual reasons why this can be problematic. But please don't compare them.

                                                                                                  The circumstances of my friends are that they are middle aged, employed and doing relatively well. I would never ask someone who was struggling and couldn't afford the price. There is an assumption on the part of many posters that I am merely being selfish and ignoring the impact on my guests. By squashing my idea you may be denying them of an excellent evening. It seems the fear that someone might be uncomfortable at the request is what is more important. What is the saying about a life lived without risks...


                                                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                    You don't know what your friends financial circumstances are. You have only your assumptions about their financial circumstances.

                                                                                                    All I can say is that I am thankful that none of my friends have ever put me in a position like this.

                                                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                      Oh, come on! Be thankful all you want, but give the man the credit of a doubt. WHY do you assume he's not smart enough to have a pretty good idea about his friends' financial circumstances? If they're FRIENDS, not just acquaintances, I would say there's not only a chance, there's a damned good probability. He has stated he's not a teenager. You have to remember that males have been "scorekeeping" with money a LOT longer than women have! They talk to each other.

                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                        There's some truth in that though. I'm a single woman with a pretty good job, benefits, own my own house etc.... and people think I should be rolling in money. I'm not. I have on occasion had times close to pay days that I can't afford to put gas in the car, never mind go out to dinner.

                                                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                          I think you missed an important part of my point. Men have better radar for each others' financial situation than women do simply because it's part of the "male culture" through the ages. I once had an ex boyfriend explain to me that "Once you accrue enough money to cover the basics, money just becomes a way to keep score." Certainly there are people -- both genders -- who (at times) keep their financial situation well buried, especially in hard times, My primary point is and was that too much was being presumed by Zen Sojourner, and others, about Junior Balloon and what he knows, his age, and other things. I am amazed at the aplomb with which he is handling some of these responses. In my lifetime, I have only had one friend who had never EVER experienced a financial squeeze. When I thought about her situation I was forced to conclude that mine was a fuller life for having at least experienced the necessity of saving and scrimping for something I really wanted. It gave me the opportunity to realize that with some things, the wanting is more fun than the getting. I sincerely hope that Junior Balloon finds a solution that works for him and his friends.

                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                            Thank you for the kind words Caroline1. I know of the score keeping type. I am lucky that I don't seem to have that gene, at least I think it's lucky. I have known these people for close on 20 years so even without a mental spreadsheet have a good general idea of how $30 might impact their financial world. If you go out to restaurants with people, rent vacation homes, have dinner at their house occasionally and then talk to them a bit you get a pretty good idea of how things are going.

                                                                                                            I have already decided to ask people to bring wine as is our custom. It will work out fine.

                                                                                                            Now I have to go and deal with the egg in the lasagna issue.


                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                              Yes! The egg in the lasagna issue. THAT sounds serious! '-)

                                                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                              good point Caroline, many people out of pride, try to "maintain appearances" for as long as possible while they pawn the wedding silver and double mortgage or rack up the credit cards.

                                                                                                              and yes, had I been the poster, I would have been far more defensive than JB has been. <video>spinning in circles going pfffft and flipping the bird</video>

                                                                                              2. I would take a different approach, which includes combining several of the suggestions made thus far. Rather than asking for your friends to chip in AFTER the meal is prepared, tell them what you really want for your birthday is to spend time with them and to give them the gift of a very special meal together. Ask them if they would be willing to go shopping with you for the fresh ingredients that you would like to use, and split the grocery bill. Make it a progressive event. Maybe one or two of your friends go to the liquor store with you to pick out the wine, a few others join you at the natural foods store or a local farmers market to buy the produce, etc. You get the idea. Then the cooking of the meal becomes your labor of love. This way you are providing a memorable experience for all. Finally, scale back and be reasonable, so that the full cost is within a reasonable price range for you and the people that you are inviting.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: publover

                                                                                                  "Rather than asking for your friends to chip in AFTER the meal is prepared"

                                                                                                  I never said I would ask them after the meal. That is beyond the pale even for a knucklehead like me.


                                                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                    Hey Junior, you did make that clear earlier. This thread could last until your NEXT birthday:)

                                                                                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                      Sorry – Caps lock made that sound much more emphatic than was intended. The only thing I meant to be emphatic about was the fact that your idea is a good one that should not be shot down with comments like “No!!!” and “…It is VERY BAD form.” Also, I admittedly hadn't read all 75 comments before posting mine. It sounds like you already have it pretty well worked out. I hope you make it a great success and may your birthday the brilliant!

                                                                                                    2. re: publover

                                                                                                      I like the shop together thing I'd pick your friend that works at Whole Paycheck (assuming they get an employee discount)

                                                                                                    3. As many have said, asking for money to cook is a no-no. What you *could* do is a semi-potluck where people are asked to bring an ingredient or two with them, and then you supply staple ingredients (such as your fresh pasta) and put everything together. This admittedly works better with dishes that are quick to come together, but might work with lasagna if you have a distraction for while it's in the oven.. For maximum effect, assign people contrasting ingredients so that they're wondering just what you're going to do with, say, a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a pound of dark chocolate.

                                                                                                      1. 1) No. I would never invite people to my house, cook for them and ask them to chip in. It is bad to ask your frineds to chip in.
                                                                                                        2) Why do you think it would be over $400. I think you may be overestimating a bit.

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: fitzpth

                                                                                                          What about this?

                                                                                                          On the evite write something to the effect of: "This year I'd like to celebrate my birthday by making a fabulous lasagna dinner for my closest friends. Please don't bring me a present, instead please bring a bottle of your favorite wine or a dessert for all of us to enjoy."

                                                                                                          1. re: fitzpth

                                                                                                            The estimate has been brought up several times and I agree it is on the high side. Here is how I broke it done in my head. I did not put this into a spread sheet.

                                                                                                            Wine = $200 (it is for 10+ guests and yes my friends could go through a case of wine in an evening)
                                                                                                            Antipasti = $50 - that incldues a tomato, basil bruschetta and a liver crostini with a selection of cured meats and cheeses
                                                                                                            Lasagna =
                                                                                                            3 can whole Nina Pomodori - $4.39 ea
                                                                                                            2 lb chuck roast - $5.59/lb
                                                                                                            1 lb St Louis style ribs - $5.59/lb
                                                                                                            1 lb ground pork - $4.49
                                                                                                            1/2 lb Parmigiano Reggiano - $9.59
                                                                                                            1 pound fresh Mozzarella - $8.49
                                                                                                            1 pound Ricotta - $6.49
                                                                                                            1 1/2 dozen organic eggs - $6.00 Some of these are used in the pasta and I use mostly yolks. The others are hard boiled, cut in half and added to the layers.
                                                                                                            Fresh pasta - most of the cost here is egg, so add .40 cents worth of flour.
                                                                                                            Some bechamel
                                                                                                            1/2 cup of wine
                                                                                                            1/ cup of milk

                                                                                                            Lasagna Total = $65

                                                                                                            Desert - I am not a baker so I'd buy something or my wife would make it. $20

                                                                                                            So grand total of $365. Yes, I know it can be done for less, but this was my vision.


                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                              See DaisyM's response . . .the perfect solution to cutting the budget by 1/2.

                                                                                                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                STL ribs in lasagna? whoa, and you thought you were jumped on before... (ok I'll stop now)

                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                  You have to try it. Cut the ribs into singles, brown them and then add them in with the other meats to cook for many hours in the sauce. The bones and the meat add a nice richness.


                                                                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                    interesting, never heard of this. learn something everyday. at first thought I was imagining cooking them as a sauce base until the meat fell off and the bones rendered and were fished out. but are saying you actually put the bones in the dish? I'd like think they are fished out after simmering with the other elements.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                      Ha ha. Fished out. I think their are cultures that like to gnaw on the bones, but not mine.


                                                                                                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                        may have to try that some day, sounds good (and beats the midwest hamburger type I was raised with even if I did leave in the bones)

                                                                                                              1. It's YOUR birthday. Let your friends make you dinner. Or at least take you out.

                                                                                                                However, if you bring it off, and end up making this dinner for your friends, please, please, PLEASE, make a decent amount of lasagna that doesn't have hard boiled egg in it. If I were one of the invitees, I'd want my money back.

                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                  My god! WHERE have you had lasagna with hard boiled egg in it? I've never heard of such a thing. But maybe I'm too sheltered? '-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                    Well, I must be sheltered, too.

                                                                                                                    Except for the first one I bit into, I've never, ever, ever had a hard-boiled egg in anything. It's my single least favorite food. And lasagna is my favorite thing to eat in the entire world. I never heard of putting the two together until a month ago or so, on chowhound. Just disgusting. And then to be asked to pay for it?

                                                                                                                    It's like some kind of ironic punishment thought up by one of the writers of THE SIMPSONS.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                      A boiled egg is traditional inside a Russian Coulibiac of Salmon.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        I'll keep that in mind next time I'm at the Russian Tea Room.

                                                                                                                2. This post really got me thinking. I even discussed it with my husband last night. I think it is part of the larger discussion that is influencing everyone's life; which is, "what do I want vs what can I afford." Clearly you want to cook your birthday dinner, but you can't afford it. So, how do you make adjustments to still have a party, but within your means. For most people asking guests to contribute money would not be an option.

                                                                                                                  1. i've been thinking about it, and to me this thread comes down to this - how one thinks of their friends.

                                                                                                                    most of the people here who think this is a bad idea keep using the word "guests". I honestly don't think of my closest friends as guests. in fact the policy in my house tends to be "if youre being treated like a guest, something is very wrong"

                                                                                                                    there is a difference between hanging out with friends partying and entertaining guests. personally i, and i think the OP, are the type are the type of people who prefer the former to the latter. Everyone who answers this as it is something one would never down when entertaining guests are right it isn't. but it is something one might do when hanging out with friends.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                      Yes, friends are perhaps more comfortable with the whole chipping in concept and bringing it up, but if I was expecting friends at my home to pay into a dinner, at the very least I'd expect them to want to have some input into the type and cost of ingredients, or for that matter, the entire meal.

                                                                                                                      I am friends with people who might just be as happy with a plate of cracker barrel cheese and ritz crackers, or who would balk at the idea of paying $50 for an ingredient for whatever reason. I'd be expecting them to pay for MY tastes, not theirs (not to say that the OP doesn't know the tastes of their friends)

                                                                                                                    2. 've had another thought on this - if the OP puts it to his friends that he'd like to entertain them on his birthday but financially is not in a position to provide what he would like, then he is putting them in the position of telling him not to worry and that they would take him and Mrs juniorballoon out instead. I think it puts the friends on the spot either way.

                                                                                                                      How about Mrs Juniorballoon inviting the friends and asking them to all bring the wine, and that Mr and Mrs will be the cooks that night. It might just be easier if the invite does not come from the birthday boy.

                                                                                                                        1. I threw a party a while ago for about 30 people, and cooked up a big BBQ with sides and puddings, spending about £10 per person including some booze. This wasn't a formal dinner party, more of a house party with food. I asked some friends beforehand if they thought it was ok to suggest that people chip in a fiver if they wanted to, and they agreed it was ok. So I did, and on the night left out a box for donations, and about 50% of people made a contribution. However it left me feeling a bit scratchy, even though no-one said anything negative, and I'd probably not do it again.

                                                                                                                          However, if I'd invited a smaller group of people for a proper dinner, I'd definitely accept that I'd have to incur the cost myself. I wouldn't feel guilty about asking friends to bring the wine - in fact this is what we normally do. I'll have a few bottles at the start to match the food but we generally end up drinking whatever people have brought! If you want ti to go together then let people know what you're eating so they can bring something appropriate. Given that $200 out of your $400 is on wine, I think this is an easy way to shift the cost away from yourself.

                                                                                                                          1. JrBalloon:

                                                                                                                            I appreciate people who cares to think creatively to get where they want to be with what they have, so I hope you can pull this off. I am sure the originality of your lasagna dish, as indicated by the interesting ingredient list, is a good reflection of your personality. However, have you considered the possibility that, as much the lasagna sounds awesome (I would love to have the opportunity to try it), somebody might be averse to having boiled eggs layered in it, for example? I am pointing this out because that appears to be the only main dish.

                                                                                                                            Money matters is always a delicate issue so my rule is to try to avoid getting my friends involved in any. However if you have the confidence that your friends are the kind who can stand up to this "challenge", go ahead and consider yourself lucky.

                                                                                                                            On the other hand, to work around the necessity to pitch in with cold, hard, cash, I agree that you can consider getting some of your friends involved with the shopping of the ingredients, if time allows. You can also circulate a list of the components on your menu (that do not need advance preparation) and have your friends decide which to take up and bring. The bottles of wine, the antipasto, dessert etc. You can even be somewhat specific about them, and then see what happens. That way, hopefully each friend can contribute as much as what they feel the most comfortable with.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: vil

                                                                                                                              Hi Vil,

                                                                                                                              I have already decide that it's better to just ask people to bring wine. The fact that it's my birthday complicates things and it's not worth the headache.

                                                                                                                              As for the egg idea it comes from the movie "Big Night". Great food movie. In it they make Timpani which is similar to a lasagna. It's layered sausage, eggs, sauce, cheese and penne pasta. There is always a chance that someone might not like an ingredient you use in a dish. I hate mushrooms. When I encounter them I pick them out. We do what we can.


                                                                                                                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                Respectfully however, it is difficult to pick much out of lasagna.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                  Egg idea? Have you made this recipe before?

                                                                                                                              2. It would be very rude to ask to pay.

                                                                                                                                Either throw you own party or wait until asked out.

                                                                                                                                1. The respondents to this thread seem to split into 2 camps.

                                                                                                                                  The larger camp adheres to traditional etiquette which says don't hit your guests up for money.

                                                                                                                                  The smaller camp thinks that if the people they invite were really their friends, they'd be perfectly open to (at least hearing) the idea, and if they're not open, then they're not really friends, just acquaintances.

                                                                                                                                  Aside from the sense of smug superiority inherent in the latter sentiment ("my friends and I are closer than your supposed friends and you, and I know everything about my friends' cultural upbringings and sensitivities"), there's the lingering question: if your friends are really that close, why are you asking a bunch of anonymous Chowhounds for their opinion, instead of just going ahead and asking your friends for money ? If you really thought what you wanted to do was OK, wouldn't you just go ahead and do it ? And now that you've heard that many don't consider it OK, if you're going to ask your friends for money anyway, then there was no point in this thread. If you're not going to, why continue trying to rationalize it ?

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                                                                    The OP has said he will ask his friends to bring the wine instead. I think that's a much better solution.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                                                                      While I agree that there are problems I'm not convinced that it is always a bad idea and not workable under any circumstances. So I'm exploring those edges. I may find out as I contemplate this that it never feels comfortable. It is certainly not workable on my birthday. Too many reasons they may feel obligated to agree. I think this could be a very fun way to have a dinner party if everyone agrees and is on board.


                                                                                                                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                        I think you've made the right choice in this situation but I agree that there are situations where it could work - one weekend, suggest "hey guys, there's this amazing dish from a film I want to try out, if you like the sound of it maybe we could all chip in for the ingredients and I'll cook, and w can watch the film together afterwards". As you say, they won't feel obliged to agree as it's not your birthday, and they can always avoid the uncomfortable situation of saying they don't want to pay up by pleading prior engagements!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                          Yes and potlucks and dinner party groups (groups where people take turns being the chef, and there's a measure of colloboration though details vary) are the more usual modes for such things. Those are things where hosting duties are shared among the group to some degree. The thing is, when duties are shared, so is control, and that's sometimes the rub in these things.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                            I absolutely agree that the arrangement can work in certain very specific situations, but you can usually sense those beforehand, and in those cases, I wouldn't bother to ask other people if they thought it was kosher, because it wouldn't occur to me that it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                            If I had even a niggling that it might not work and I thought to ask Chowhounds for their opinions, I would definitely go with what the majority said. If I ask someone's opinion on how to handle something, I'm going to take what they say into serious consideration. If I just want someone to say that it's OK that I do something I feel might be sketchy, and not listen to countervailing opinion, I wouldn't bother to ask.

                                                                                                                                            At any rate, it sounds like you did weigh all the feedback. Have a good birthday.

                                                                                                                                        2. if you can't afford to entertain your friends, then modify the way you entertain. i feel the same way about a cash bar at a wedding. either cut down the guest list or serve only wine and beer, but you don't ask guests to pay.

                                                                                                                                          1. once I was in a financial situation and I asked a mutual friend how to best suggest it needed to be BYOB (the party was a b-day for the SO and I was blowing the budget on food) and he suggested wording the invitation something to the effect of "X likes white wine and whatever YOU like to drink"

                                                                                                                                            maybe similarly employ a third party, I mean a woman never throws her own bridal/baby shower.

                                                                                                                                            1. I can understand that it would be a fun thing to cook this one dinner that will be exactly how you want it with carefully chosen wines and all that. But here's the thing - your guests are obligated to be happy with whatever you decide to make and however you decide to do it even if they would have preferred something else, because you're the host.

                                                                                                                                              It screws with the whole "host" notion if they have to pay. Now you're no longer the host, and so you're also no longer entitled to your vision. It's now something you are all doing together. Because it's what everyone wants to do. But that's not what you're describing.

                                                                                                                                              I mean, think about it this way - everyone wants to have the perfect wedding that they've always wanted, right, whatever that is, but a lot of people have to scale that back when they realize what it costs. They would never, ever, ever tell the guests to just forgo presents and pay their own way to the wedding, right? Well, that's what you'd be doing here: charging people at your wedding. I mean, people getting married don't want their perfect wedding day any less than you want your perfect birthday.

                                                                                                                                              Something you could do is make it more like a cooking club kind of thing and have everyone show up to cook the dinner together. Then you could plausibly ask everyone to pitch in. "Hey guys, for my birthday, let's all pitch in $30 each and make the best. dinner. ever. at my place!"

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                                "They would never, ever, ever tell the guests to just forgo presents and pay their own way to the wedding, right? "

                                                                                                                                                read Miss Manners, this is happening more and more and far more blatantly than the OP suggests.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                  While I don't believe a birthday party as illustrated in this OP is equal to planning a wedding-hill food, you have a point! The number of people who base the amount of their wedding gift on the wedding reception dinner is astounding to me. When did the wedding gift equate to reimbursement for dinner? I have read countless wedding registry books that clearly state your gift should be based on a number of specific things (your relationship to the couple being #1) but every book, wedding magazine clearly states the price of a reception dinner is NOT the basis for a wedding gift amount.

                                                                                                                                              2. Let me get out my crystal ball and communicate with the Ghost of Chowhound Future:

                                                                                                                                                "My friend's birthday is coming up. He's going to throw his own party, but he's asking all of us to chip in thirty bucks! For real? I'm starting to wonder if he just sees our friendship as a way to finance his cooking habit... because if it's not that then he's just plain cheap! How can I gracefully decline the invitation while letting him know how uncool it was to ask for cash?"

                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                  "My friend's birthday is coming up. He's going to throw his own party, but he's asking all of us to chip in thirty bucks!



                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                    monku, you linked this thread to this thread?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      If somehow "the Ghost of Chowhound Future " does show up in a search, maybe my post will show up and link to this post. ;)

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                    LOL, you are hilarious and so right. If I were the friend, I'd decline and never talk to him again.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                      You should totally start that thread. See if anyone takes the opposing stand in that thread than they did in this one. And see how long it takes to get it shut down.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I would like to thank all the people that stopped by and made constructive comments. Your input was helpful. I would also ask the Chowhound team to lock this thread as it's just getting mean spirited.