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Birthday Dinner for a Child - Is Host Expected to Pay for Guests Alcohol?


My husband and I are hosting a birthday dinner party for our 7 year old son. This is a family only dinner party where there will be 14 people in attendance. Since money is a concern, is it tacky for the hosts not to pay for alcoholic beverages that people might want to consume? Just looking for opinions? Thanks.

  1. Opposed to what? Family members buying their own at , I'm assuming, a restaurant?

    It seems to me if a host is hosting a party they're paying for everything unless there's been discussion beforehand and other arrangements, for someone else to pay, are made.
    The only way around not having to pay for alcohol is to go to a restaurant where it's not offered.
    If you haven't been proactive (discussing it beforehand or going to a restaurant where it's not served) you may run into a situation where it may end up being uncomfortable for everyone.

    1. Bridget , I see that you are a first-time poster, so I'll try to be gentle.
      My Webster dictionary defines the word "host" as follows:
      "A man who entertains guests in his own home or at his own expense ....."
      Certainly this covers your stated situation. When you host a dinner party, including birthday celebrations for 7 year olds, it is wise to host in a way you can comfortably afford. If this precludes alcohol for your guests, choose a venue that is appropriate for your circumstances. (and yes, it is tacky to select a fancier-than-you-can-comfortably-afford dining room and put restrictions on your guests.) By choosing a venue that you can comfortably afford, you are also reinforcing a valuable life-lesson for your young son -- do not live beyond your means. Make a game out of involving him in the planning; give a budget and some help explaining about tips etc. He'll likely be onboard with the project, especially since he has the opportunity to tailor his birthday party. I hope that you have a wonderful success and a great time. Happy Birthday wishes to the lucky birthday boy.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sherri

        While I agree with Sherri on general principles, I think there might be a bit of flexibility here because it is all family that you are hosting. Your family should be aware of your circumstances and understanding that you have to set some kind of budget for the event.

        You also don't mention what stage of planning you are in. If the invitations have already been issued and accepted then it might be too late to change the venue. But a "family" restaurant that does not serve alcohol would be a good choice (easier to find in some places than others). If you could change the time, then a brunch or lunch party would mean that most people would not expect to be drinking.

        If you do have to stay with the original dinner plans then I do not think it would be terribly tacky to let your guests know that you will be providing a bottle of wine or two (or pitchers of beer, whatever is appropriate at your restaurant), but outside of that they are on their own for their bar tab. That keeps you in control of the budget, just make sure your server knows up front about what goes on your check.

        A 7 year old's birthday party is not really an appropriate occasion to be boozing it up, so it is also tacky for your guests to expect to do so, at your expense, at this event.

        1. re: pamf

          I would say anyone drinking at a 7 yr old's birthday is tacky. I smoke and have an occasional drink and I would never do either at a child's birthday. I never saw any adult doing so at any children's party, and if they did they would be asked to leave. If ghe child is attending a party for an adult that's different, but even then all drinking should be kept to a minimum in front of kids. I never, ever saw my parents or their friends drunk, although we had wine at all our dinners, g and ts in the summer etc.

          1. re: dianne0712

            So then what makes you assume that other adults aren't capable of the same 'restraint' or decent behavior while drinking alcohol as your parents and their friends?

            1. re: dianne0712

              At the last birthday party I went to for a child (there were maybe 6 kids there and about 30 adults), the dad (a proficient home brewer) had made a special beer in honor of his daughter's special day. She turned 2, so she didn't partake, but it was a lovely gesture and a tasty beer.

              I didn't give the child a present but I did gift the parents a bottle of good champagne, but it seems to me if you can keep a kid out of harm's way (and your own sanity) for 2 whole years, that's a champagne-worthy event. They must have agreed, as they cracked the bottle for a toast.

              No one was drunk, no one scared the children. Everyone had fun, though--kids and adults.

        2. Welcome to Chowhound... it's a rough crowd. People can get into a lot of arguments about what, as the hosts, you are obligated to pay for. The way around all this is communication. Spell it out on the invite. Just say that food and non-alcoholic beverages are on you, and alcoholic beverages can be purchased. Everyone will know exactly what to expect, and they can decide if they are OK with that arrangement or not, and accept or decline your invitation as they see fit. These days, I think most people would be pretty happy with you paying for just the food. There are people out there who will invite people to a party at a restaurant and expect them to not only pay for their own meal, but pick up the hosts' tab as well. Now THAT is tacky. In your case, I think you are in good shape as long as you make it clear from the get-go what you are buying, and what the guests are responsible for. Particularly for a child's party, I think this is very reasonable.

          1. bridget, you said this was family only and if your family doesn't understand money is a concern who will? That said, avoid the potential for misunderstanding by explaining your position and why. This way your family knows what to expect.....or at least you did the best to explain it.

            Which brings me back to about 10 years ago when I hosted a party for 30 gals at a mexican restaurant that did not serve alcohol. They did offer mocktails and every guest ordered one, including some of the younger gals (17). One of my guests (SIL by marriage) had brought a bottle of rum with her to the party to spirit her mocktail and offered the bottle to everyone, except me because "I hosted a party sans alcohol"... Yes...she did!

            Never mind that I covered the tab for 30 people...she was miffed about the booze...lack there of...and brought her own.

            My point being I selected a restaurant that was in my budget for 30 guests and it was the food and the celebration I was focused on. My SIL wanted rum in her drink so she brought her own (and thankfully the restaurant didn't make a fuss about it). But that wasn't my problem to deal with. I hosted with the best of intentions. My guests (minus one) had a good time. I was clear about the menu, directions, timeframe and the lack of alcohol....and still couldn't please 100% of the people...and she was "family."

            Every year since that party my SIL receives a mini bottle of dark rum from me for Christmas. It's a running joke btwn us....or at least for me it is a running joke. If I have my way my SIL will never be without her rum.

            So, plan your party. Understand you can't please everyone but you can please your 7 year old son. And that's the point of a birthday dinner for a child.

            1. Dinner on you, cash bar. No problem. There is no reason for adults to be drinking at a 7 year old's party anyway.
              Just be up front about it. No reason to explain. Just let them know you'll be picking up the food tab (and arrange something you can afford) and if they feel the need to drink, there is a cash bar. No big deal. And if it is a big deal to somebody, then they shouldn't be there.

              9 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                I have to disagree with you here wyogal - "There is no reason for adults to be drinking at a 7 year old's party anyway". I have no children but many of my relatives do. So when I'm invited to one of these events I need a drink or two to even tolerate all the screaming and noise! But I am always happy to pay for my own. And no I'm not the obnoxious drunk uncle propped up in the corner at the party!

                1. re: TSAW

                  Since I didn't mention it in my post, we are planning on having this party at a family friendly Italian restaurant where the prices are very reasonable. Yes, our familiy is aware that money is a concern. My son and his cousin would be the only children at this party. But, thank you everyone for your opinions/replies.

                  1. re: bridget1970

                    If you could do it family style for everything, it might be easier all around. Not having a choice is fine in that case. It might be less expensive, too. You might be able to get away w/ a bottle of wine at each table and one or two types of soda. But, if everyone is ordering a dish, and the server asks what he/she wants to drink, it would be hard to control, plus I can't imagine dealing w/ the check at the end.

                    1. re: bridget1970

                      You are the host - you have a choice to make it a dry event but you must let your guests know this in advance.

                      If you are having a cash bar - which personally I feel is a bit inhospitable, but to each their own - you must also tell your guests in advance.

                      It's okay not to serve alcohol - your guests should just be made aware in advance. they can then make their own decisions (stay dry, grab a drink before .... or possibly stash a flask!)

                      1. re: bridget1970

                        Could you ask the owners to put a carafe or two of their house wine on the table for those that would like a glass of wine? Usually that is pretty inexpensive and should satisfy those who would like a glass of wine with their meal. Just a thought.

                        1. re: Mother of four

                          That's a good idea, but again, you should make sure everybody AND the waiter is aware that that carafe or two is it- no ordering more carafes. Or make sure the waiter knows that any additional carafes are to be put on a separate check, given to the person(s) asking for the separate carafe(s).

                          1. re: Mother of four

                            Thanks, I like your idea about the wine.

                      2. re: wyogal

                        You are so "on the money" here wyogal. There is no need for the parents to pick up the alcohol tab for their own family. Let's get real here and not act like this is some esoteric dinner party, it's party for family. If it was at home, I would assume folks would bring bottles of wine/beer etc and there would be little cost for alcohol. If the family is miffed because you're not paying for their booze, you've got bigger problems ahead. Have a great party and happy birthday to your son!

                        1. re: escondido123

                          Thank you for the birthday wishes and for your response.

                      3. We let our kids choose the place for "family dinner" every year. We have 12 people (4 kids). Most years it has been fairly inexpensive - their favorite Mexican or Sushi place, for example. We always go into it assuming the full bill is on us. However, my children discovered a luxurious brunch buffet at a local hotel after we took my in-laws there for their anniversary. Well, that was that, why pick tacos or sushi when they have a choice of nearly anything they want, not to mention about 30 dessert options? AND it is really expensive. AND the waiters keep those mimosas and bloody marys coming. Thankfully, everyone decided to chip in. My family is pretty good that way. We didn't ask, but as soon as they offered (ok, not everyone, in-laws very blatantly kept quiet) we accepted. But I kinda felt bad about taking their money later. So my husband and I discussed, and won't let them pick there again - at least not for the whole group.

                        Point is, pick some place you can afford to feed 14 people. Perhaps there is a BYO restaurant, and your family can bring their own alcohol if they choose to. Or just go to a place that doesn't serve alcohol at all, if you don't want to have to worry about it. If the place has already been chosen and you didn't think about it before, you are stuck and you just have to hope that your family is generous like mine was and recognize the huge expense.

                        1. With my own family, there are several folks who don't drink alcohol. Whenever we gather for dinner, whether for a birthday or not, the hosts pay for soft drinks, tea and coffee. Guests who order wine, spirits, bottled water, beer, etc., expect to pay their own way. Several weddings have included no-host bar. I think it is important to communicate your expectations, as a host, as early as possible, so that guests are prepared at the event.

                          1. If its a sit down dinner and you have invited guests to join, then yes you are expected to pay for drinks. Are you setting limits on the food that people will be able to order? If you want to control the costs then I would set the menu and choose an affordable wine ahead of time. If you are planning to allow guests to order a la carte, then you will obviously have a lot less control over the cost.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: AdamD

                              We are setting the menu prior to the dinner party to help us keep control over the costs.

                              1. re: bridget1970

                                If you're setting a menu, then it would be easy to limit drinks. Maybe you could create your own menu, as a memory sake, for the party and have one per person. It would be like a host menu w/out prices. You could make it personalized and really nice, w/ pictures.

                            2. I guess I find myself most decidedly in the minority here. I see absolutely nothing wrong with not paying for guests' alcoholic drinks, provided that the guests are told ahead of time that alcohol will not be provided for. This is a child's birthday celebration, not normally a drinking celebration, at least in my experience. It is not like the host is limiting guests to water as a beverage, or setting a price limit on their entrees. She is simply saying "Alcohol will not be included." Furthermore, she is not banning alcohol. Guests are free to drink if they wish. I really don't see the problem here.

                              ETA: Admittedly, as a person in recovery from alcoholism.... my view is probably colored.

                              7 Replies
                                1. re: kubasd

                                  i also agree, and this is coming from a former bartender. my perspective, even in my younger years when i was a big time loadie-- you know, there is plenty of time to get blotto after the kiddos go home, if one absolutely must... but drinking anything stronger than lemonade at a child's birthday party is a no-no... no?

                                  i understand that some families drink together, and it is "what they do"-- no judgement, but not every family is the same way. then there are mutigenerational gatherings of families, for a cook-out or something, where it's fine for adults to drink if they'd like to. there are also some fascinating threads about mothers in law on chowhound that seem to take the position that a good stiff drink is/can be a coping imperative! some families drink wine at every meal. lastly, some of my former patrons were seldom seen without a drink at ready access (yes, including the shower, at work, and while driving a car).

                                  i think the op should take a look at her fam. if they are not all the time/any occasion/daily drinkers, or if it's an early dinner, the non-alcohol thing may be no big deal at all. if they tend towards a drink or few for family gatherings including kids' birthdays, the servers can assist by telling the tables that the food and non-alc bev are hosted by young jack/janie's family (does anybody really expect a little kid to buy them a martini? ;-P), but that they (the servers) will be happy to open up a separate tab for anyone who'd like to order from the bar. if the op is really worried that a particular family member might be enraged or storm out of the child's birthday party.... indeed, there may be other issues going on. :(

                                  1. re: kubasd

                                    Congrats and keep up the good work on your recovery. I appreciate your thoughts about this.

                                    1. re: kubasd

                                      Maybe it is because I live in the South (where there are a lot of Baptists) I don't expect free booze or booze at all (much to my surprise at a few weddings down here), especially not at a child's birthday party. My DH and I pregame at the bar if needed and are happy to put our drinks on our own tab (admittedly, I am a vodka snob and don't expect anyone to pay for my highfalutin' tastes!). Now, that being said, if it is my immediate family (mom, dad, brother) we all have drinks and if it is my Catholic family, same deal. However, I think the most appropriate way to handle it as a guest is to follow the lead of the host. I wouldn't order a filet and a dirty martini for lunch if it was clear the host was having an entree salad.

                                      1. re: bamagirl30

                                        Absolutely! Good manners dictates following the host...whether it's ordering alcohol, dessert or on an a la carte menu, the most expensive items.

                                      2. re: kubasd

                                        I totally agree with this post.

                                        1. re: iluvtennis

                                          I Agree too, but unfortunately you can't count on the manners of others. My own sister, who was raised just as I was, will change her order if you say it's your treat. The amount of times I've heard her call back the waitress and add apps and wine and the most expensive entree and dessert are too many to count. It's appalling what people will do.

                                      3. I guess I would find it strange to be invited for dinner but not have a glass of wine included. I'm used to both wine with family dinners and alcohol at children's birthday parties (though to be fair, in my social circle, children birthday celebrations tend to have way more adults present than kids). I wouldn't like, not go or make a big fuss, but there you go.

                                        1. #1 You are NOT obligated to provide liquor at a party you host.

                                          #2 You can instruct the restaurant that the servers are to NOT ask your guest 'what would you like to drink?' BUT to ask 'Would you like Coffee, Tea, Ice Tea or Soda?" If a guest has the audacity to question the server, the server simply answers.."Your hosts have chosen a soft drink beverage service this evening."

                                          Any guest so insistent on booze, will go to the bar and pay cash. You can instruct the restaurant manager that no bar charges are to be billed to the table (your bill).

                                          This avoids you being the bad guy, stops the servers from upselling to increase their tips, as well, and stays in your budget.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                            Such fantastic advice, bagelman01. I'm sure I will have call to use all of your suggestions at some point in my hosting life!

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              I agree- I drink more than a lot of people, but if my host doesn't want any alcohol at a meal, fine. And I don't have a couple of drinks ahead of time, either- not only is it no fun being the only one who's drinking at a gathering, people who haven't been drinking can smell a person who has been drinking a mile away. And I don't want to be that gal.
                                              If people are going to get offended by having to do without booze for one meal, well, maybe they have a little too much of a habit.

                                            2. re: bagelman01

                                              This. It's all about communication and I think that bagelman01's suggestions are perfect.

                                              1. re: bagelman01


                                                There is absolutely no obligation on the part of a host to provide an alcoholic beverage among the beverages being offered, and the host may restrict that part of the menu as much as any other part of the menu (by, for example, having a more limited menu offered). The host gets to decide that, and the guests smile and say thank you so much, et cet.

                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                  Yes, clear communication with guests and restaurant is key.

                                                  When I am a guest I take my cue from the hosts. If they do not order drinks then I don't order drinks.
                                                  If it is just me and the hosts and I know they drink on occasion I may offer to treat the table to a bottle of wine. In a larger group I just don't go there, host has set the parameters by their actions.
                                                  Same with apps and dessert.

                                                  When I host I make sure my guests feel comfortable with ordering. Just conversationally mention that the calamari appetizer is fantastic lets folks know that they are welcome to order an appetizer. You can also offer an option which is within your comfort zone by mentioning that bottle xyz sounds great, does everyone like red?

                                                2. I come from a family of people who enjoy wine and cocktails with dinner. Even if I told my family in advance that they would be on the hook for their own drinks at dinner, the minute I saw everyone up from the table and at the bar ordering drinks (which they would do), I would feel like maybe I hadn't made the best arrangements for the party. And that would make me not enjoy the party very much.

                                                  So yes, you can make arrangements with the restaurant for a cash bar, and maybe your family wouldn't think it was strange, but if its gonna make you feel like you are hosting a bad party, it might not be worth it to save some money. Better to plan a party where you can afford the entire tab.

                                                  (And I think a party with 12 adults and 2 kids is more of a grown up party than a kids party, so I don't think the rules of "no drinking at a kid's party" will apply.)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mtoo

                                                    If you are close to your family they will probably understand that it will be a strain for you to have unlimited drinks. If not, i would explain this to them in advance so Uncle Ralph does not make a snide remark and ruin the party. It be nice if you could provide a few liters of lower priced ( but good) red wine. It probably be a satisfactory solution for most people.

                                                  2. If money's a concern, take them all to the bowling alley or order some pizza. The hell with it. They can all drink in the car.

                                                    1. If I'm invited to a party honoring someone, I assume that I will not be asked to pay for anything. To ask me to do so is, IMHO very tacky. I will always however bring or send a gift, and send a thank you note.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. I have been to weddings where you paid for your own drinks. I didn't consider that tacky just a way for the bride and groom to be able to afford all their guests. No one says you have to buy a drink, there are always non-alcoholic beverages served. There are also people like my brother and his bride do not drink; in their case they had the reception at a venue that did not serve alcohol at all.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                          If you do not wish alcohol served, the the party should be held at a venue that doesn't serve alcohol. I maintain that if I'm hosting a party at a venue that serves alcohol, I wouldn't dream of asking my guests to pay for their own drinks/wine. To do so is imho extremely tacky. If I couldn't afford to do so, I'd shorten my guest list and/or go to a more modest venue.

                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                            It can be hard sometimes to find a decent venue that doesn't serve alcohol.

                                                            Also, I'm not sure how easy it would be to shorten the guest list given that this is a family birthday party for a child, Maybe paternal grandparents could be invited in even numbered years, and maternal grandparents are invited in odd number years...

                                                            If you are eating at a fairly modest "family" place someone call easily double the price of their meal with wine or mixed drinks.

                                                            I see nothing wrong with asking people to buy their own booze in this situation... after all, the guest of honor won't be drinking.

                                                            1. re: svnirvana

                                                              If I were giving a party for my 7 year old, I'd either do it at home, or someplace that probably doesn't serve alcohol...think burgers, ice cream, etc. Unless it's only family and/or really close friends who you can tell in advance, not covering the full tab for all invitees remains in my opinion, very tacky.

                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                So all 7 year olds are forced to have birthdays at Dairy Queen or McDonalds? This isn't very chowish!

                                                                I just came from a 1 year olds bday party this afternoon, at an FOP hall with full bar and bartender. Tons of food, desserts, chocolate fountain etc etc etc with a cash bar. Not once did it even cross my mind that it was tacky nor would I expect someone to pick up my alcohol tab. Everyone had a great time despite the hosts being such cheap tacky lowlives. Sometimes the less you have the more you are greatful for.

                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                  This isn't a child's party -- this is a party for the adults, no? I can't fathom holding such a lavish grand affair for a 1 year old. It seems that the birthday becomes an excuse for an adult gathering I think. Very odd...

                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                    lavish grand affair? I dont think its possible to have a lavish party at a FOP hall. I dont think its odd in the least bit, since when does one even need an excuse to get all their friends/family together and have a good time? A baby's 1st birthday is a big one and everyone wanted to be there to celebrate and bring something nice for the young parents/child. If this and the op's idea of a childs bday party dont fit your mold I find that very odd...

                                                              2. re: svnirvana

                                                                you get over that everything has to be a "party"

                                                          2. Bridget,

                                                            There is absolutely nothing wrong with just picking up the tab for dinner and not drinks, that is more than generous. People are on tight budgets these days and you should only do what you are comfortable with. Like others have mentioned, however, please note beforehand what the arrangement is so there is no confusion. If you want to talk about "tacky," it is the people who expect or assume that they can get liquored up on your dime - at a 7 year old's birthday party! In the future you may also want to use "get together" in place of "host" if you are not looking to pay the entire bill (or some deviation of that phrase).

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: joe777cool

                                                              Thank you, I really appreciate your responses.

                                                            2. Non Alcoholic dinners happen all the time. No need to feel bad or cheap or anything else but proud to be able to invite your family for a dinner out. Cash Bar. I've seen it on invitations countless times.

                                                              1. These kind of threads always bother me, and I wonder sometimes if the responses don't break down into 1%ers and 99%ers. There is no way to tell how people will react to this, you should know your own family best.

                                                                If I was hosting a party, I would do it at home, or organize the guest list and the venue so that I could plan to foot the entire bill. I can't imagine footing the bill for a 14 person dinner, except at someplace I wouldn't want to eat. However, if you invited me to this dinner and planned to pay for my meal, I would think that you were extremely generous. I would offer to at least pay for my own drink, if not bake a fancy birthday cake!

                                                                So, while it would probably be best to let guests know that drinks are not included, just to avoid confusion at the restaurant, I don't think you need to feel even remotely apologetic about it. I think you've extended a generous invitation, and your guests should be thrilled.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                  "These kind of threads always bother me, and I wonder sometimes if the responses don't break down into 1%ers and 99%ers."

                                                                  The correlation between income/expectations is obvious. It seems that the same posters who feel that it is tacky are also posting about "Best eats in Buenos Aires," "Wolfgang Pucks at the Bel Air," and for recommendations for restaurants in Milan and Delhi. I, in contrast, list my favorite restaurant as a chain bbq which I admit is white trash bbq. By no means is this an attempted slight at anyone, just pointing out the contrasting views and possible explanation.

                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                    Let's not make assumptions about who is in the 1%. Yes, I posted about Buenos Aires, but for a friend. I am retired, live on a modest fixed income, live in a 1,200 sq.ft. condo, drive a small 7 yr.old car, am clearly in the mid-99%...and yes, when I invite people to a party/celebration I expect to foot the entire bill. I obviously choose only what I can afford. I guess we all think differently but, unless it's with close friends or family and understood in advance, I think it's tacky to ask people to pay for a glass of wine or a drink. The op was asking for opinions, and that's mine. Being that the op's party is family only, I guess if it were made clear in advance that no alcohol is included, it should be ok...nevertheless, I'd feel funny doing so.

                                                                    In rereading this thread, I'm beginning to think that the obviously disparite opinions probably have much to do with upbringing. I grew up in a family of extremely modest income (my dad worked 2 jobs) to keep us going. Still, when on the rare occasion he might treat an aunt or uncle to a special birthday dinner I recall that he wouldn't even accept a dollar from his guest towards the tip. I feel pretty much the same...if I'm treating, I'm treating!

                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                      I very carefully chose my words as to not point fingers or try to make assumptions. It sounds like I had a similar upbringing as my parents were always very generous when out as a group even though I remember my dad using both sides of the aluminum foil as to save 1/10th of a cent. I try to be generous as well, however I would never expect or assume a struggling family member to pick up my bar tab. And for all the other nonsense about multiple soda's, app/desserts, coffee etc. If you know the host isnt made of money, in my opinion, its 1 soda/beverage and a moderately priced dinner. If the host insist on cocktails/refills/apps/coffee/dessert then by all means but I would follow their lead.

                                                                      1. re: joe777cool

                                                                        I enjoy a martini before dinner, and truth be told on occasion love expensive things such as caviar, foie gras and lobster...but when I'm a guest and being treated, I wouldn't dream of ordering these things. I guess it's all about trying to be as gracious and considerate as possible, both as a guest and a host.

                                                                  2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                    I don't believe it is a 1% vs. 99% issue, but definitely a matter of upbringing and background. Perhaps social class. Some people will defend their view as being that of "standard American etiquette", but I don't believe this etiquette is actually practiced by the majority anymore, so it's fairly arbitrary, although perhaps a good fallback for people who are confused, have seen different practices in their own circles, and are not sure what their guests will expect. But I certainly hope most people can look at their own lives & experiences, call a trusted friend for an honest opinion, and not feel the need to adopt the standards of random people on the internet. I know that if I had insisted our only options for my father-in-law's 60th birthday were hosted bar or dry party, *I* would have been the one looking like a snotty b*tch, not a gracious hostess. It's just not expected in their circle.

                                                                    1. re: julesrules

                                                                      ...and not feel the need to adopt the standards of random people on the internet.

                                                                      I don't disagree with most of what you are saying julesrules with the exception that the NAF Board is designed for Chowhounds to ask and receive opinions about a topic such as this. It's for the OP and all of us following along to decide for ourselves what actions we would take. There are always going to be strong opinions culled from our own experiences but that's the points of a community discussion. I might be confused by some of the more extreme examples but it's fascinating to read and learn from.

                                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                                        I would always provide drinks at an ADULT party, and I couldn't afford to do so at a restaurant therefore I entertain at home. My parents were clearly in the %1 whereas I am clearly not. So, my upbringing says "provide" at an adult party, but my upbringing also says "don't drink at children's parties".

                                                                    2. They are your family! I think it would be tacky for them to assume you should pay for alcohol at a child's party when they must know money is an issue for you.

                                                                      Have a wonderful party and hope you don't let any of this bother you.

                                                                      20 Replies
                                                                        1. re: visciole

                                                                          Do you feel the same way about dessert or appetizers? I guess I just don't understand the "demon liquor" mentality I see here. Enjoying a drink doesn't mean someone wants to turn an event into a frat party.

                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            I don't think there is a "demon liquor" mentality in general. I just think some of us don't find a cash bar to be objectionable--and I would be one of those ordering at it.

                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                              Well yes. I think it tacky for family members to assume anything when they know (or should know) that money is an issue. They should be happy that there is a celebration and grateful to be included in it.

                                                                              But really only the OP knows their family and their alcohol consumption/expectations. If it was just my immediate family there would be no alcohol or maybe just a bottle of red, my BF's family would expect at least 3 bottles and my SIL's family wouldn't have any.

                                                                              And at the end of the day if the lack of alcohol keeps someone away from a niece/nephew/grand child's/cousin's birthday they have a problem.

                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                To me the conversation would not be altered if we changed "alcohol" to something like "foie gras" and continued. When the host sets a menu, whether it is with or without alcohol or with or without foie gras is the host's perogative and as a guest, I would feel honored to have been invited and happy to be there. And if I just had to have my foie gras, then I would simply pay for it myself. (And I have done so, on many occasions).

                                                                                That said, I would want to know in advance. If I thought everything were covered and ordered a foie gras, I'd feel a bit put-off getting a bill at the end of the night.

                                                                                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                  I guess it's just a question of what people are used to. If you are used to foie gras at every meal, then it might seem strange to not have it. I'm not, so I wouldn't notice its absence.

                                                                                2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                  It's a CHILD'S party, no? Shouldn't the focus be on the youngun and not on whether or not the parents have paid for the booze? I'm astounded that people expect booze at a child's party. You're there for the child, give him/her a present, cut some cake, eat some hot dogs, go home and drink. I'm shaking my head at this whole thread.

                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                    It's a party for a child, consisting mostly of adults. I'm shaking my head that alcohol would be considered so wildly inappropriate in the presence of children.

                                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                      Its not the issue of alcohol in the presence of children. It just amazes me that one would have a birthday party for a child that consists of adults who expect their booze to be bought for them. What happened to the days of "its your birthday, invite your friends, we'll have hot dogs and a bbq, maybe rent a bouncy castle, it'll be great!"? I've never heard of a child requesting nor appreciating a party like this. Pretty much any kid I knows would rather have a cotton candy machine, maybe some water squirt guns, a bouncy castle, a huge cake, hot dogs, chips, fizzy sugary soft drinks and several hours of outdoor time.
                                                                                      Maybe it's a cultural thing....

                                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                                        Not sure what you mean by "a party like this". I can think of a lot of kids who would like a casual meal with their family. The OP didn't ask for opinion for what kind of celebration her child would enjoy, presumable, because as the kid's mother, she knows.

                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                          Exactly LL. When my niece was little, each year she was given the choice of pizza/cake type party with a larger group of friends or one friend for a 'grown-up' restaurant meal. And the restaurant party usually won.

                                                                                          1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                            Yup, being a summer baby (hard to have a kid party when everyone was on vacation) most my bdays (when celebrated) were w/family @ the restaurant of my choosing. Of course my family is small so if a couple glasses of wine were ordered it didn't really affect the bill.

                                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                                              Then again, one could take the position that the only people at this party who should have alcoholic beverages are the children.

                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                (Smirk). Well, what began as the best of intentions to help out a fellow CH with a party planning dilemma has managed to confuse the heck out of me. There are so many opinions and sidebar discussions within the post I no longer know what works for the OP but I sure hope you enjoy the party and your child has a great time. Celebrations shouldn't be this exhausting!

                                                                                          2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                            A casual meal isn't the issue. The OPs question was, IMHO, an invitation to comment -- i.e. Child's party do we pay for the adult's booze..something that I've never really come up against. I'm trying to picture whether this is a child's birthday party or an adult party with the child's birthday used as the reason for dinner out. The OP asked for an opinion -- a number of opinions state that as a child's party, why is booze an issue? Therefore the answer is "no". I guess some of us are just deciphering if this is really a birthday party or a reason for an adult dinner out. Two different dinners: two different opinions.

                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                              No, this dinner is being held on my son's actual birthday. This dinner was his request in lieu of a big party with his friends at a different venue. If I wanted to plan an adult dinner out my husband and I would have gotten a babysitter and planned an evening out with friends. So, I am not using my son's birthday as an excuse to have an adult party.

                                                                                          3. re: freia

                                                                                            In years past we have done birthday parties at the park with a ton of kids and the bouncy castle, etc. and last year we did a party at the the bowling alley. But, for some reason my son didn't want all the fuss this year. He said he just wanted to have the family get together at his favorite restaurant. His choice came as a surprise to me since he only turning 7 this year.

                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                              The child is one. I can't imagine a one year old has an extensive guest list of peers or specific ideas of what their perfect party is.

                                                                                              A family meal to celebrate is completely appropriate imo.

                                                                                              Growing up we always had a family dinner for birthdays. Some years it was at home with the celebrants favorites made, some years it was at a restaurant.

                                                                                              As we got a little older and became social outside of family we had age appropriate parties with our peers in addition to the family get-togethers.

                                                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                No, the child is 7. Or turning 7.

                                                                                            2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                              I agree it's not inappropriate. If the party were held at her home and they did a cookout, then i could see beer and wine for the adults. But the cost can be prohibitive at a restaurant and it's not essential, like the food and cake.
                                                                                              Hosting at a resto is a nice gesture.

                                                                                      2. I hated feeling I had to 'sit still and pipe down' at a fancy dinner out at that age (not that I was wild by any means, but it seems birthdays are a time when cutting loose a little should be allowed). You might give the child the option of choosing dinner type and things might take care of themselves.

                                                                                        24 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                          And as a small kid I loved fancy dinners out. Who knows how they chose this "family friendly Italian restaurant". Maybe it is the kid's favorite.

                                                                                          1. re: viperlush

                                                                                            well then, if the family gave the child the choice, they should host, including some wine. Let those who need hard stuff pay for their own. It should be about the child, not the adults.

                                                                                            1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                              Exactly, it's about the child and not the adults. So why serve alcohol that the child can't drink and not just water/soda/milk?

                                                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                C'mon...it's a dinner in an Italian restaurant for a child, but there will only be one other child in attendance. The dinner is clearly for adult family to celebrate a child's birthday. Big difference between that and a "child's dinner". Personally, I don't consider it "boozing it up" to have a glass of wine with dinner when I am out w/ adults for dinner. It would be awkward, in my opinion, to offer to pay for people's dinner, but not their beverage choices. If the restaurant does not have free refills, would the OP be opposed to paying for 4 iced teas for someone, or 3 Diet Cokes? It's sort of the same on some level.

                                                                                                1. re: MRS

                                                                                                  No it's not boozing it up to want a glass of wine with dinner, but that doesn't mean that the host has to offer it. If they don't have the money for alcohol than they shouldn't feel like they need to serve it to be a good host. Like it was said above, the host should let the restaurant know that alcoholic beverages aren't an option so there is no confusion. Just like if money is an issue they should work with the restaurant to make a limited menu so there aren't any surprises when people start ordering.

                                                                                                  I just don't want the OP to feel like she will be a poor/inadequate host by not paying for alcohol. After all it's just family celebrating a child's birthday.

                                                                                                  And who knows, maybe the OP lives in a BYOB state.

                                                                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                    I think you have to know your family, and customs...in my family, we always have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner...and my son at 4 was the one ordering the mussels and the shrimp santorini...i think if your family cares about you, anything you decide is fine!

                                                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                      THERE ARE BYOB STATES!?!?
                                                                                                      Forgive the Canadian, but what does that mean...?

                                                                                                      1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                        States that allow you to bring your own wine to a restaurant.

                                                                                                        1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                          BYOB = Bring Your Own Bottle (or Booze). For example, some restaurants allow you to bring in your own bottle of wine and pay a corkage fee for the restaurant to open it for you.

                                                                                                    2. re: viperlush

                                                                                                      By that logic, no one should have coffee with their desert, either.

                                                                                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                        Since when is a cup off coffee the same price as a glass of wine/beer/alcoholic beverage? Since when is an alcoholic beverage needed with a meal or coffee needed with a dessert? Desired maybe, wanted even, but not needed. The OP should host what they can afford and not feel like they need to do more.

                                                                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                          If it's just a matter of cost, everyone should drink tap water then, right? I mean, dessert is not required. Appetizers aren't required. Any drink other than water isn't required. If your goal is to host a meal and spend the least amount possible, that's your right, of course. No one is saying otherwise. I personally don't get the hand-wringing about alcohol at a "kid's party" that was coming through on this thread though and don't understand why it's treated differently than any other course or choice of beverage.

                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                            I'm definitely the financially challenged one in the family. I would get around this one by ordering a few bottles of nice wine, or going somewhere where alcohol isnt available. Most people will figure out that if they want a mixed drink and everyone else is drinking wine or soda, they should go to the bar and pay.

                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                              Maybe this will help explain it: It is a child's party and the child should not receive less than others. Children can't drink. I would not have a party for my diabetic mother with high cholesterol and serve her berries for dessert and give everyone else chocolate truffle cake. I would not have a party for my lactose intolerant friend and serve them lactose free cake and everyone else cheesecake. Get it?

                                                                                                              1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                Children can't drive, either. Does that mean the adults have to walk to the restaurant and back?

                                                                                                                1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                  Why wouldn't you? At my mother in laws birhtday party we had a gluten free cake for her and a regular cake for everyone else. Thats just common courtesy, imo. Besides which, alcohol and children is a different issue entirely.

                                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                    Really?You think it would be kind to my mother to have everyone around her eating something she would love and couldn't have on HER birthday? Wow. That is definitely not courteous.
                                                                                                                    The birthday person is king, and should feel they are getting the best of everything, not alesser version of what the others have.
                                                                                                                    P.S. I assume the child also gets to ride in a car even if he's not driving.

                                                                                                                    1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                      I'm not suggesting you do anything to make your mother uncomfortable. In the case of my MIL's birthday, she is perfectly fine with a gluten free cake and doesn't want to eat "regular" cake. Its not a question of one being "better" than the other. Nor, in the case of the OP, is a child going to think his lemonade is a lesser beverage than the grown-ups wine. Different is not automatically better (or worse).

                                                                                                                  2. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                    That makes for some interesting food at a first birthday party. Breast milk anyone?

                                                                                                                    1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                      So no coffee? No intellectual conversations that a child couldn't participate in? No talk of the past, when perhaps the Birthday King wasn't around?

                                                                                                                      (and still no booze? Yikes)

                                                                                                                  3. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                    I enjoy a glass of wine with my meal...but for some reason the majority of my gfs dont drink. I always make a point of NOT splitting the bill, because a nice glass of wine can be a big percentage, and if we spend a couple of hours catching up, two glasses of wine and two ice teas are kind of not equal. Planning events, I find it's better to decide on the site rather than argue or worry, especially with family.

                                                                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                      Or dessert needed, for that matter? This being a birthday party for a child, I imagine there may be dessert if there isn't a cake back home waiting, but I don't consider dessert a part of dinner at a restaurant, or coffee either.

                                                                                                                      Viperlush is right- The OP should host what they can afford and not feel like they need to do more. I wouldn't expect my host to pay for valet parking or cab fare, either, just for the record.

                                                                                                              2. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                Yes, this restaurant happens to be a favorite of my son.

                                                                                                                1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                  Yes, this restaurant is my son's favorite place to eat when we go out for dinner.

                                                                                                              3. A question I have... will the hosts be drinking alcohol?

                                                                                                                I don't get why people seem to feel that alcohol is a necessary part of the meal. Yes, this is a hosted event, but why should the hosts be obligated to purchase alcoholic beverages for the group if they don't want to?

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                  Every family is different and has their own "culture". For my family, something to drink is an *essential* part of the meal. It would not be considered "extra". Wine for most meals, especially for french and Italian foods, sake or green tea for most Asian fare, beer/sangria/margarita for Mexican or Southwest, Sweet Tea or beer for Southern, etc. Most of my family doesn't drink soda pop or milk with a dinner unless they are children. We always have water with our meals, but choosing a beverage to compliment the meal is essential for an evening out or a festive event of any kind.

                                                                                                                  I think it is interesting that many don't see choosing a beverage for a dinner as an actual part of the meal. In my family, we always give a toast for a celebration dinner. Toasting with pop or water would be odd in my family. Different strokes, the OP should know what her family typically does at celebrations and that will give guidance on it being "tacky" or not.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                      I think I disagree (I'm not sure!). I do think knowing one's family is key, but if you know your family members will each order several specialty drinks, and that will cost you a couple hundred dollars more, I think it's fine to confine your offer to dinner. I still maintain that someone with financial limitations is being very generous to offer dinner for fourteen people.

                                                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                        Well, I am only speaking of my family so it is not an agree or disagree thing. I am sure that in other families, drinking alcohol at dinner would be unusual...therefore, the beverage would not be considered an integral part of the meal whatsoever. The beverage might just be an "afterthought"- so no big deal to not pay for it. In my family, it would NOT be typical to "just pay for the dinner". It would pretty weird and unusual and I am sure it would cause everyone to try to figure out "who is paying for what" and it would feel awkward. The beverages are a part of the dinner and we don't drink pop.

                                                                                                                        In my family, a "hosted dinner" at an Italian restaurant would mean that the host has a couple of bottles of Chianti on the table for guests. If they wanted special drinks or something else- they would know that they should buy them on their own. That is why I think knowing your family is important. Maybe the OP's family is new, or includes out of towners- that they don't typically celebrate together or something. Most people know what is the norm for their own family.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                          Agree completely. It depends on the family. In mine also, it would be weird to not have a glass of wine at a celebratory dinner (although except for the children, few would likely want dessert). This is obviously not true in other families. If the op's family is likely to want wine, the gracious thing would be to pre-select a few bottles of affordable wine and have them on the table.

                                                                                                                    2. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                      No, my husband and I will not be drinking any alcohol.

                                                                                                                      1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                        No, we will not be drinking alcohol.

                                                                                                                      2. I have 3 children and consider it totally inappropriate to permit drinking @ a child's birthday party. I cannot believe that your question would even arise.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: cbjones1943

                                                                                                                          Oh good grief! It's a family dinner with two children present.

                                                                                                                          1. re: cbjones1943

                                                                                                                            LOL. I don't think the OP was planning on the kids drinking :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                              I don't think anyone in my family would even think about a kid's birthday party where drinking was not "permitted." But that's just my family. Booze was never demonized, always treated as a natural part of the larger meal or celebration, but over-indulging was never an issue, either.

                                                                                                                              But as has been said, every family has its own expectations and norms.

                                                                                                                              On the other hand, my grandmother always poured us, as kids, a jelly glass of beer when she made pizza. And tastes of wine were always OK at more elaborate dinners. And none of us who grew up that way, siblings and cousins, ever had to sneak or got in booze-related trouble.

                                                                                                                              Raising the next generation has been the same, with no problems for our kids. Although nowadays, there are a lot more knee-jerk reactions from outsiders.

                                                                                                                          2. Wow, good question.

                                                                                                                            We have no children, so can only reflect on similar, but for adults.

                                                                                                                            When I turned 50, wife did a lu`au, at our country club. Big deal. Though I was obviously not a child, she picked up the full bar tab, for all invitees.

                                                                                                                            That is as close as I can come.


                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                              I've gotten the impression from your posts on other threads that you can afford a splurge like this. But would you be offended if a family member, perhaps a young mother, wanted to host a dinner and couldn't afford pay for everyone's alcohol? Instead of choosing a cheap tacky place, she chooses a decent but reasonable spot, covers all the food for 14 people, and asked guests to cover their own liquor expenses? Wouldn't you be understanding of her situation?

                                                                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                I'd just make it clear from the beginning, and anyone who is a friend will understand. I'd much rather pay for drinks and have good food.

                                                                                                                                1. re: katy1


                                                                                                                                  I am with you completely.

                                                                                                                                  I feel the same way about my wines. I never hesitate to run a separate tab/bill, just for those wines.

                                                                                                                                  My wife hosts many, many meals, and first has her budget, and then many intricate corporate, and IRS (we are in the US) rules, to which she must adhere. When we get into any gray area, or are exceeding some limit, I ask our service captain to break things apart - well before the bill comes.

                                                                                                                                  Above, a poster mentioned substituting "foie gras" for alcohol. Funny that that should be mentioned. Due to limits and restrictions on my wife's expense account, I often will pull my full meal out, plus the wines for the table, as I want my foie gras!

                                                                                                                                  Works the same way, regarding travel accommodations. She is not allowed to stay at a Four Seasons, or a Ritz-Carlton, but when those are the best lodges in a particular area, I book them, and she turns in the cost of the Marriott, down the street.

                                                                                                                                  Same for airport limos. She is not allowed to arrive in a towncar/limo (though the upper corporate folk do just that, and only one, per limo, that then idle for the meetings, before they all head back to the same airport... ). I refuse to let my wife put her life in harm's way, with some crazed cab driver. Whether I am with her, or not, I buy her the limo to the meeting. Now, that edict, against limos, was just lifted in the city with the corporate office (where many meetings are held), when three corporate employees were injured in three separate cab accidents. Now, she is allowed to do that, and I feel good. This is especially comforting to me, as she will be riding in towncars/limos, with drivers, that I know, and who know her.

                                                                                                                                  No, safety, and enjoyment, are things that I gladly pay for in life.

                                                                                                                                  I am behind you, 100%.


                                                                                                                                2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                  an older relative of ours tells a story: she had recently given birth to her third child, in the 1950's. the family was quite poor and struggling, and her husband, veteran of both ww2 and korea, was in the early days of starting the family business, where he did not have a steady paycheck, but rather was paid in lump sums as construction projects were completed. so, there were very lean weeks where every penny was accounted for.

                                                                                                                                  some well-er off relatives dropped by out of the blue one day, shortly before dinnertime, "to see the new baby" but plainly expecting to stay for the meal. this meal, prior to their arrival was planned to be a pauper's supper of pancakes and butter... however there was a brief pow-wow, a "rainy day" piggy-bank was broken into, and the father drove into town to buy a roasting chicken. the mother roasted the chicken and cobbled together some side dishes from the pantry-- and when the time came for dinner, she claimed that she herself was not hungry, and just pecked at tiny portions of the sides, in order to create the illusion that there was plenty of food for the other three adults and two young children to eat. i know there was no wine served at that dinner! :) however the family believed they had "kept up appearances" reasonably well... it was after the visitors had left, and the mother was putting the new baby to bed, that she discovered a $20 bill tucked into the blankets in the crib! the guests had realized the family's whole situation, and of course at that time $20 was a week's groceries or more.

                                                                                                                                  i think people should *do what they can*--and not feel guilty about it, if what they can do is not what someone else in a different situation can do. if something about a family celebration is not up to someone else's high standards, the person in question could probably 1) thank their lucky stars for having such first-world problems 2) figure out a way to pitch in without unnecessarily embarrassing others-- offer to buy a round of after-dinner drinks, and a shirley temple for the celebrant... "so we can stay at the table and chat a little while longer," or something. or spring for the check or bar tab at the next family affair.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                    Great story! Thank you for sharing it.

                                                                                                                                    I have been the "well-off" (at least by some standards) family member, and would have scooped everyone up for a celebratory meal, at the best restaurant in town.

                                                                                                                                    My wife would have placed that $20 (or whatever), in the blanket, after we left.

                                                                                                                                    We have many family members, who are not in our financial position, and we never hesitate to just treat everyone. Happens often, and we are so happy to be able to do so.

                                                                                                                                    Due to some unusual circumstances, an older family member was unable to attend a recent wedding. We flew the newly-weds out, to be with her, and put them up at a local resort, as they were just starting out their lives. We were so honored, that they could fly out, even on our tickets, and visit that family member, who could not be there, for the ceremony . This became even more important, as the husband lost his job, within two months. We were pleased to have helped out, and so very glad to allow them a "honeymoon," in the lap of luxury, just when they needed it.

                                                                                                                                    One must do, what they can. My "payment" is the smiles.

                                                                                                                                    Again, thank you,


                                                                                                                                  2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                    Not in the least.

                                                                                                                                    As a matter of fact, in two recent family dinner events, that were hosted by another family member, I instructed the servers to split out the wines, and make sure that I got the tab for those. This was especially worth discussing, as I wanted the 12 & 16 people in attendance, to have some very good wines.

                                                                                                                                    Now, I could have asked to have the bill split, but in both cases, the host/hostess paid less, than 1/2 of the total bill.

                                                                                                                                    In both cases, I was in a better position to pick up that part of the tabs, and never hesitated to do so.

                                                                                                                                    In many instances, though depending on those instances, I just pick up the whole tab, but hopefully in a way, that does not, in any way, "diss" the host/hostess.

                                                                                                                                    We also attend many charity events, during the year. We usually have a table, so are hosting. There is most often wine included, but I will pull our service captain, or the director of food/beverage, aside, and order special wines for MY table. Sometimes, that depends on the wines that the event coordinators chose (usually within a fairly tight budget range), but also on how much I want to "treat" the other 4 couples at our table.

                                                                                                                                    I also do similar, when my wife is hosting a meal, and her corporate budget is set at a certain level. I just pick up the wines, and have those billed to me personally. I will gladly pay for good wines, and my hope is to share those, with people, who will enjoy them, as much as I will.

                                                                                                                                    You have asked a good, and very valid question, and I hope that I have been able to answer it. If I missed something, please let me know, and I will have another go at it.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                      I think it's kind of you to do that, since you obviously have the means. Do you ever wonder if a host might be offended, OTOH, because it implies that what he/she can afford to offer isn't good enough for you? I feel, as a guest, that I should graciously accept what is offered and not let them feel it's inferior to what I can afford. If I'm hosting, then I can go all out. The host is the host, regardless of what the person can afford--if one steps in, one is taking over the role from the host.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        I do take such into consideration, and will speak to the host/hostess, about my intentions. My feeling, is one of generosity, and is never intended to belittle them. I only want to help, and nothing more. Still, the potential does exist, and I try my best to belay that. Still, the potential does exist.

                                                                                                                                        I try to never be a usurper. I explain how I want do enjoy great wines, and want the folk, around the table to do the same. I then take responsibility for that part of the meal.

                                                                                                                                        To date, I have never had an issues, BUT I cannot say that things have been perfect. They seem to, at least by my observation, but who knows for sure? I can never be 100% certain, what the final perception is, but have good intentions.


                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                          I'm sure most people do appreciate it. I would love to have someone order different wines for me to try, rather than just winging it. I was just thinking some might be offended, as a host because in the case you're paying for half the event, you've also become the host. Possibly, the best thing to do in that situation is to talk it over w/ the host/hostess beforehand, give him/her the money and help with the wine ordering, all behind the lines so no one knows that you were involved in it. The host can be the host and everyone can enjoy your selection w/out knowing you were part of it.

                                                                                                                                          LOL, this might be the ideal solution for the OP--just invite Bill Hunt to your gathering and you're all set!

                                                                                                                                  3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                    Which is of course nowhere close at all...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                      I am very sorry, but I am not sure what you mean, or where you might be going with your comments.

                                                                                                                                      Can you possibly articulate, to help this old guy?

                                                                                                                                      Thank you,


                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                        I do not think the situations (the party or your personal circumstances) are similar in the least. That is all.

                                                                                                                                  4. It would be great if you could have the party at a BYOB.
                                                                                                                                    Never underestimate how much people will drink when they're not picking up the tab-- no matter what time of day.
                                                                                                                                    My first wedding had an open bar for an hour before our meal, where there were no restrictions on choice of beverage. I started to see top shelf liquor coming out after the meal, and felt really pissed and taken advantage of. People actually went out to the bar after the meal to hang out before hitting the road!
                                                                                                                                    There is no need for booze at a kid's party is really the bottom line. Tell the staff to serve food and soft drinks/ hot beverages and be done with it.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                      Like you, at my wedding 11 years ago, we had an open bar for the first hour and when it came time to pay the bar bill at the end of the hour, it was a $700.00 liquor bill. Thanks for your suggestion about speaking with the staff about the food and drink.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: bridget1970

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, ouch, right?!
                                                                                                                                        Our booze bill was as much as our food bill. And, I failed to mention this was a noon wedding. Or was it 11am? i forget, but let's just say I assumed folks would opt for a light mimosa instead of Glenfiddich.
                                                                                                                                        You're really thinking it through and I'm sure will have a lovely party with no "surprises" at the end!

                                                                                                                                    2. Also just musing, some restaurants make up a menu for a party and personalize it. It could give food and beverage choices that are included.

                                                                                                                                      1. So bridget, please don't keep us holding our breaths! You've now heard the full gamut of "expert" opinions, and you, of course know your family best...so, what are you inclined to do?

                                                                                                                                        Regardless of what you do, I certainly hope your son has a great time on his birthday!

                                                                                                                                        1. I'm curious, after all these suggestions, what did your original intuition tell you to do?

                                                                                                                                          1. You're going to get lots of people saying you're expected to spring for everything or you shouldn't be having the party at all. But my opinion (for what it's worth) is that if you're inviting people to a social occasion at a restaurant, you just need to be clear about what you're covering. If somebody really doesn't want to come because you can't afford to buy them caviar and champagne, it's their choice. So tell people up-front that you'd like to pay for their food but you can't afford a bar tab.

                                                                                                                                            1. If I were coming as a guest I wouldn't necessarily expect booze to be provided but a few carafes of house wine would be very nice. I didn't read the entire thread but is there a BYOB option on your part? Certainly buying a few bottles at a liquor store would be more affordable than purchasing from the restaurant. It may be worth it, even if there is a corkage fee.

                                                                                                                                              I've been to several events where food and soda/coffee were provided but if any guests wanted alcohol they had to buy drinks separately at the bar. Not ideal but with a budget it makes sense. It also allows your guests to drink what they prefer.

                                                                                                                                              1. Folks, we think all the possible permutations of answers have been given to this question, and people are starting to get really testy and judgemental, so we're going to lock it now.