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What to do - wealthy sister booked extravagant restaurant for family member's birthday!

My sister and aunt are very very wealthy and I'm not. They are taking my stepmother out to dinner at a very expensive restaurant ($45 and up a plate) and just expect the entire family (some of whom are like me and not wealthy) to eat there and pay (not to mention the expensive wine). I think that if you expect others to pay, you should make the restaurant choice up to the entire group. They are making me feel ashamed that I just cannot afford it and don't want to put more on my credit card than I feel comfortable doing. I cannot afford, nor do I like, being extravagant. But I don't have a choice because I'm absolutely expected to be there and I'm staying with my stepmom.

Who is in the right? What should I do and say?

(Does it matter that I'm in stepmom's town, as everyone is, to attend my stepmother's kids' bnai mitzvah. I am flying across the country to attend and am staying with her, as a lot of people are. I would love to take her out just not to such an expensive restaurant, and I think it's inconsiderate for my sister to just assume that everyone can afford this. To her, it's practically a sin to not be wealthy. I'm not ashamed at all - in fact I'm proud that I'm more practical and not extravagant and don't put social standing above all else)

What are your thoughts? Anyone else with family members like this?

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  1. Could you just order an appetizer and beverage? Your sister sounds inconsiderate. But you already know this.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sueatmo

      My aunt just agreed to pay for my meal but now I'm embarassed. I just hate being put in this position. I'm actually a very generous person, but I just don't like other people spending my money. My sister said that I basically owed her (my stepmom) because I'm staying with her. I agree I owe her a gift but not a $200 dinner (what it'll be when all is said and done). I'm very careful about my money.

      1. re: pamsanclemente

        Smile, and say "thank-you," and pay half.

      2. re: sueatmo

        An appetizer and drink wouldn't work because everyone who is "expected to pay" is expected to just lay their credit card on the heap and split it however many ways.

        1. re: pamsanclemente

          OK. So you don't live by their rules. Who makes these rules anyway? Order what you can afford, put a smile on your face, look your best, and pay for your own meal. If the others want to give you grief about something, they'll find it no matter what you do.You have to choose not to be a victim.

          You don't owe anyone anything that you can't afford. This isn't a debt. In this case you will have to be gracious, even if the others aren't. And you will look better than they.

          Or you can choose to take your aunt's offer.

          Good luck.

      3. You talk to your sister. Be truthful, swallow your pride. She is the one who needs to be ashamed, not you. Tell her what you told us. Alone. Don't put any judgement about her into it, just tell her the facts, it's out of your price range, period. If she still insists, then go, get a drink and a bowl of soup. And smile when you place your order, saying you want it with the meal, not as an appetizer or before others get their main dish.

        1. Tell her exactly what you just told us. The truth will set you free!

          7 Replies
            1. re: joe777cool

              I did tell her! She said that I owe it to my stepmom because I'm staying with her and it's her favorite restaurant.

              The truth only sets you free when you are dealing with people who are considerate.

              1. re: pamsanclemente

                then politely decline this invitation as you have planned something very nice for just you and the stepmother. alone.

                1. re: hill food

                  Yes, what hill food said. She can go find someone else to manipulate or shame. Your love for your family is not measured in dollars and cents. Hold your chin up and politely decline, if you like.

                  Edited to add - if you are comfortable being paid for, then sure, say thank you and accept and STILL hold your chin up. Status schmatus. Someone's being tacky and it isn't you.

                  1. re: Vetter

                    "Status schmatus. Someone's being tacky and it isn't you."

                    now THAT is a mantra I need to remember.

                2. re: pamsanclemente

                  You could always whip a bag of McDonalds out of your purse! Joking aside, she needs to be reminded that these events are about the family coming together not about whos bank account is the biggest. It would be nice of you to treat your host to a nice meal, but it has to be within the comforts of YOUR budget, not what you sister deems necessary.

                  The "charity" of your Aunt seems innocent but would indeed rub me the wrong way as well. If your wealthy aunt/sister are so gracious to invite the family, shouldnt they be gracious enough to pay the ENTIRE bill?

                  1. re: joe777cool

                    Exactly, they want to be gracious, they want to be generous, they are wealthy so why not pay for the whole thing.

              2. Take some advice from a former first lady: just say no.

                1. Since you and other members of your family are not wealthy and paying that much, even though the bill is split equally, would be a financial drain, you should get together with them and see if you can propose another restaurant that is affordable. After speaking with them and selecting a place, you should approach your sister with them as a unit and propose the more affordable place. If you sister still insists on splurging on your stepmom then she should alone and not at the expense of others. I don't know where you live, but there must be good but less expensive options. I doubt that your stepmom would enjoy the meal knowing that it'll be hard or impossible for others to pay that much (and feel comfortable enjoying the experience). I know that you and at least a few of the others probably won't enjoy the experience as much.

                  Also, if your sister is so wealthy, she surely can foot the whole bill if she wants so badly to eat at a particular restaurant and give your stepmom the experience of dining there. Personally, I have a group of friends with whom I dine with regularly. Some have financially lucrative jobs and some are poor grad students with an ever increasing load of loans. We try to find a place that both sides can feel comfortable with. It can be a challenge sometimes when the majority wants to eat a certain place, especially a new acclaimed restaurant, but one person doesn't feel comfortable spending money on an expensive restaurant. The same is true when one friend wants to spend several hundred on an extravagant meal that the others don't. We compromise.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lulumoolah

                    Wouldn't work. The other family members who aren't wealthy are on my stepmom's side of the family and... I don't know..... they (we) just have no say. My stepmom is wealthy too. It's just assumed that it will be an expensive meal since that's basically what the family is about - expensive meals. When my dad was alive he would pay for everything.

                    But thank you everyone for making me feel better. My sister is so unbelievably strong willed, that I just get swept up into her way of thinking. Thanks for supporting me.

                    1. re: pamsanclemente

                      Take a deep breath. Go halves with your aunt, and then be sure to send everyone that did anything "for" you (put you up at their house, the aunt), a nice, handwritten thank-you note. Smile, kill 'em with kindness, be gracious, even if they aren't.