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How to ask guest to pay for meal/drinks at dinner?

I am having a surprise party at a restaurant. I am doing crawfish (which I am paying for) however I know some people do not eat crawfish and if they choose to order something how can I word that on an evite that I am only paying for crawfish. I am also NOT paying for drinks. I just want to word it nicely.

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  1. I really don't think there's a nice way to tell guests that you'll pay for the food you specify but not a different meal. Is there a reason for this?

    33 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert

      Usually at a crawfish place, meals are ordered for a certain number of people in advance, and that is what gets paid for.

        1. re: Hobbert

          Of course you can!! But for larger parties, most places need to be ready and have product on hand, and this person is clearly planning a party!!

          1. re: mamachef

            That's what I figured. I realize they're planning a party. My point is that there's no polite way to tell some people their meal gets paid for and others that theirs does not. Gotta scale back and treat the guests like guests.

            1. re: Hobbert

              I disagree. There are wide varieties of familial/social groups that function quite well with different kinds of hosting. The opportunity for problems arise when expectations aren't clear.

              If such a clearly stated invite offends you - then you either decline or vent/then attend because the relationship has greater priority. However, if it's the end of the night and then someone springs a bill on you - that's when you really wade into "rude" territory.

              1. re: cresyd

                I'm sure many groups do well with this sort of thing but it seems like the OP's does not since s/he is asking how to word the invitation.

                If I got this invitation, I wouldn't be offended. I'd go if I want to socialize with everyone and decline if I didn't. I would, however, conclude the host is cheap.

                1. re: Hobbert

                  What would be the difference if I had it at my house as a crawfish boil only and
                  BYOB I'm not cheap it's just that it's a "crawfish boil"

                  1. re: Jojo34

                    It's an appearance issue. If I present an invite as "I'm inviting you to Thanksgiving dinner, please bring a side of potatoes/veggies/etc" - that's totally within the realm of an expected behavior. If I say "I'm making Thanksgiving dinner, please only bring yourself and $15" - that's not within the realm of expected behavior.

                    Now in scenario 1, I may only intend on making the turkey and stuffing while providing the setting for Thanksgiving dinner - and have all of my guests provide all sides, drinks and desserts. This fits within the model of family style potluck, and the accompanying etiquette.

                    However, I have been in a situation where scenario #2 was the appropriate call - but it doesn't fit neatly into prescribed etiquette of "hosting".

                    1. re: Jojo34

                      So a 'crawfish boil' means you, the host, supply the crawfish and then everyone brings their own sides and booze?

                      1. re: latindancer

                        The sides at a crawfish boil are traditionally corn and potatoes, sometimes sausage, boiled with the crawfish, provided by the host. Beer or wine is usually brought by the guests, at least here in crawfish country. Crawfish is also quite expensive, 6 to 7 bucks a pound at restaurants, 2 bucks depending on size sold live in 40 pound sacks, Houston prices.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          Crawfish boil includes potatoes and corn. Those are the sides but yes usually the guest BYOB or whatever they want to drink

                          1. re: Jojo34

                            Well, that's a meal, for sure, and people can opt for the sides and not the crawfish.

                            1. re: Jojo34

                              Then that's a meal. I say you're good. I'd include non-alcohol drinks to round things out but that's me.

                          2. re: Jojo34

                            I'm not saying you're cheap. That would just be my conclusion based on the facts at hand. If you had it at home, I assume you'd provided beverages, maybe a cake, and possibly some sides. Plus, there just wouldn't be anything else for people to order and pay for and compare the fact that they had to pay and others didn't.

                            1. re: Hobbert

                              How is concluding from the facts at hand that a host is cheap, not calling a host cheap?

                              1. re: cresyd

                                Well, s/he might conclude from the facts at hand in this thread that I'm an asshole. In fact, I'm delightful. I have no idea if the OP is cheap or not- I don't know them. It's a cheap way to throw a party but I wouldn't call them cheap unless I had a better sense of them. Maybe s/he donates a thousand dollars a day to the poor. Who knows? I'm just talking about this party.

                                1. re: Hobbert

                                  The post was not "should I host a party if I can not pay for all the drinks/off menu orders" - but rather - "how to phrase this on an invite". However, many commenters feel very comfortable telling the person to cancel the party, hold the party in an alternative fashion, or invite fewer people.

                                  I think it's unfortunate. It doesn't acknowledge folks of different ages or life circumstances where life presents uneven options. But many posters feel the need to heavily populate these posts with "have a completely different kind of party!" and "you're being rude/cheap/not a host!"

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    The OP said they wanted to "word it nicely". In my opinion, there is no nice way to give people this specific message. You can't politely say an impolite thing.

                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                      I fear that we're going to mince words regarding what "nice" versus "polite" is - but the tendency on CH unfortunately seems to presume there remains one rigid set of terms by which to "politely" hold an event (not getting into the variations of what it means to 'host') which I find to be very limited.

                                      This post was looking for suggestions on how to word an invitation. Essentially only a few commenters provided actual suggestions.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        Threads often drift into nuances, and there certainly are here.

                                        Maybe this type of partial hosting is common in the OP's circle.
                                        Maybe it isn't.

                                        1. re: monavano

                                          Yes - I guess I have a more general CH complaint on hosting etiquette or rather "hosting suggestion" questions as they often tend to drift towards "there remains only one right way to host an event".

                                          1. re: cresyd

                                            I posted earlier about crawfish prices, 6 to 7 dollars a pound Houston. Down here 3 pounds is the opening bid for most males, It's to the point where I cook them at home now instead of taking the wifeacita out, Lets see, 5 pounds, a couple of drinks each, tax, tip, and we're looking at 80 dollars for two to eat freakin' crawfish. You, madam, are not cheap.

                                        2. re: cresyd

                                          "This post was looking for suggestions on how to word an invitation. Essentially only a few commentators provided actual suggestions."

                                          So what's your suggestion?

                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                            I suggest not making it an issue. If an invitation requires some type of tricky wording, that is very telling IMO.

                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                              That's telling, IMO.

                                              If this is SOP where the OP is, and is SOP in her family and social circle, then why need to explain?

                                              That said, I would be very clear on the invite.

                                              No surprises or unmet expectations.

                                2. re: Hobbert

                                  Crawfish comes with sides - potatoes and corn and if it were at my house NO I would not provide alcohol

                                  1. re: Jojo34

                                    Beverages did not mean alcohol in this case, just FYI.

                              2. re: Hobbert

                                Introduce me to any social/familial group - and no doubt there will be someone who has complaints about someone who is prone to impolite/rude behavior. I think trying to find a way to address this situation in the best way possible (vs an ineffective way) doesn't mean it's out of the norm.

                                I used to live outside the US amongst an expat community where in my social circle folks had a pretty wide range of incomes and lived far from family. This meant that finding ways to include everyone - particularly for celebrations like thanksgiving - was valued more than strict traditional hosting norms. Didn't mean that the first times we tried to plan meals with asking people to contribute money we managed to do it in the best way possible - but we learned. And for the "rules" of our social group that worked far in the long run.

                                1. re: Hobbert

                                  Actually we host a ton of parties at our house and if I was doing this at my house I would not post this. The bottom line is it's at a restaurant who serves other dishes that I am not including in my party that I am hosting

                              3. re: Hobbert

                                in this case I don't find it cheap or strange - you are being invited specifically to a "crawfish boil" its a "Thing" - you go expecting to eat crawfish - messily & communally if you don't like sucking on the heads of little spicy crustaceans then you would not expect individual accommodation. Not paying for the bar is also pretty common. Its not like being invited to a typical restaurant and being told you can only have one specific entrée.

                        2. re: Hobbert

                          If I were to do this at my house it would just be crawfish and BYOB. Basically you can't control what people order and if a few order $20+ meals and drinks it's just not in my budget!

                          1. re: Jojo34

                            Why not have it at your house? Personally, as a guest, I would be confused about whether I'm supposed to pay and annoyed that, if I wanted, I don't know, a salad or something, I'd have to shell out for that.

                            If you truly want to host, scale back. Otherwise, don't pay for anything and nobody has to wonder why they're paying for a meal and the guy next to them isn't.

                            1. re: Hobbert

                              This is a surprise at my husbands fav restaurant. I won't be able to pull it off at my house.

                        3. This may be a bit difficult to say nicely, but I'd definitely include the words "no-host bar" in there. And mention that for the diners who can't eat the (pre-paid, pre-ordered) meal that there are also other menu items available on a no-host basis.

                          1. I assume this is one of those places where you are ordering multiple pounds of crawfish and they just dump them all over the table and everyone digs in.

                            If not, good luck.

                            Maybe just word it like it's a big get together with you buying the crawfish, rather than a party where you only provide one thing. People should understand. Normally I'd say this is kinda odd, but at a casual crawfish place with close friends I doubt people would be upset.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                              I have to give a head count prior to date so they will have it ready. So no we won't be ordering on the day of it will be pre ordered and pre paid

                              1. re: Jojo34

                                I would specify in invite this is the case. And if someone decides to order something else there it would be at there cost and desire I was invited to a dinner at a restaurant for a birthday parry once. They didn't say it was not paid for. At the end of the evening everyone was asked to pay part. I was surprised. And, would have liked to know in advance

                              2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                It is casual with close family and friends. So I know they will understand just need to make sure it is clear on invites. Thx

                                1. re: Jojo34

                                  So, on the invites, just describe it as a 'crawfish boil'…
                                  Apparently they know what that is and there shouldn't be any hard feelings.

                                  "This is a 'crawfish boil' at a restaurant. If you want booze then you pay. If you want anything besides crawfish then you pay. No gifts please".
                                  To the point, clear and concise.

                              3. If you are paying for dinner, than you can restrict to a price but not the exact meal. To do so seems churlish to this old fart. Informing people that they are responsible for their own drinks is fairly wide spread.

                                So here is my solution to wording the invite given your parameters and my definition on hosting a dinner.

                                "Mud Bug Heaven is having a special on crawdads and I would like to treat you to dinner if you only order the cheapo crawdad special. Anything else is your responsibility to pay for. Some of you tubbos are already banned at most of the AYCE places in town, so I will only suck up the check for a single order each. And since I don't trust you to have a sense of proportion on the drinks, especially alcohol, you are also responsible for that tab also.

                                Looking forward for our special evening together, so please RSVP so I can try to get a group discount or split up the table so I do not have to pay the required tip for the large number if we all sit at one table.

                                Your gracious host, Jojo34"

                                Basically, this is what you seem to be implying. Feel free to edit for your requirements. :-)

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                  Wow. And I just read it as someone wanting to host a crawfish boil. I'd be hard pressed to come up with wording for the invite that would be ruder than your response to the OP. Even with your ending smiley face.

                                  The OP wants to host a party. Wants to pick the menu (which happens at shitloads of parties all over the place).

                                  I hate crawfish, by the way. I'd still go to your party if I liked you or the other invitees a lot. I'd either eat sides (if they didn't touch the icky crawfish) or be hungry. And that would be okay. Cuz I'd be with a group of friends having a good old time gathered round a table with disgusting crawfish all over it.

                                  Invite: Crawfish Boil, No Host Bar. Hope to See you there.

                                  1. re: debbiel

                                    I would hope my "friends" would make accomodations for those that don't eat crawfish.

                                    Personally, I can't imagine forcing any of my non-crawfish eating guests to just "enjoy the sides" while celebrating my husband's birthday. Not while everyone else is chowing down.

                                    I can't imagine it would cost that much extra to accomodate a few people that might not want to eat crawfish. And I am sure it would be appreciated.

                                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                      But it being appreciated doesn't mean someone would be offended/put off/feel like a less valued guest if the opposite happened.

                                      I was a vegetarian for 20+ years. I've despised fish and seafood my entire life. So I've been to many a party where I've just enjoyed (or not enjoyed) the sides. And it has not ruffled my feathers.

                                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                        A crawfish boil is crawfish, potatoes, corn, and maybe sausage, all cooked together, BYOB. Everyone knows the menu, and can come and not eat or bring their own food if they care to socialize. Ideally it's done outside and not at a restaurant, but the OP doesn't have the facilities and I don't see why she should have to shell out 20 bucks for entrees after paying a bunch for crawfish.

                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                          Personally, I am willing to accomodate my guests. Would you invite someone with a food allergy to a party where you only served that item and figure they could just eat salad? It just seems, not rude exactly, but inconsiderate of loved ones. And to make matters worse, friends like Debbie above would sacrifice and make do in order to celebrate with you. (Not you in particular)

                                          It's not that much to offer an alternative to those few that might need something different.

                                          1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                            Again, at a crawfish boil there are no expectations of anything else, but Jojo34 is graciously providing jambalaya as an alternative. Again, again this is a crawfish boil and a bit of a pain in the ass for the host to produce and an absolute mess afterwards when done at a home so the host is not expected to produce anything else. There will be other times for the multitude of loved ones that are vegan or have allergies. Edit, it is much more than a pain in the ass to produce a crawfish boil. Buy sacks of live crawfish, purge said crawfish in water multiple times, set up propane cookers, shuck corn, wash potatoes, lay out tables with tons of newspapers and paper towels, season water and cook crawfish and sides, and repeat multiple times. Later, clean up 20-30 pounds, minimum, of heads and shells, process the inevitable leftovers so they don't spoil. A piece of cake, no problema.

                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                              Which is probably why it would have been a good idea, on the part of the OP, to post this on a board that is more familiar (southern?) with what a Crawfish Boil is…
                                              Most likely, it could have saved a ton of chatter.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                But then the mods would have moved it from regional to the general board anyways

                                                1. re: Bkeats

                                                  You're, most likely, right.

                                                  I find many topics to be regional and many posters are responding without actual, accurate knowledge.
                                                  I, for one, am definitely guilty of doing it with this topic.
                                                  I had no idea what a crawfish boil is and it really is imperative to be knowledgable with this one.
                                                  If this topic had been on a board where people are familiar with what it involves it could have saved the OP some frustration.

                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                    yeah, looking back I suppose more than a few didn't realize it's prepared by the pot not the plate.

                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                  Local boards are for talking about restaurants there, not etiquette or other questions. As the OP said, this was moved here.

                                                3. re: James Cristinian

                                                  Uhh okay. That would be relevant if the OP was having it at home but as stated multiple times, she's not. Besides, if it was at a home, people would be free to bring their own alternate meal.

                                                  I see she decided to offer beverages and an alternative for those that don't eat crawfish. Good for her.

                                      2. I would state this very bluntly on the invite as I would "black tie attire"

                                        something like

                                        "Crawfish on the house! Cash bar and full menu available at request"

                                        I would also make sure the severs/bartenders know this is how the billing will work so they can start a tab for patrons who order drinks and deliver guests their own dinner checks if they order food.

                                        better to make this clear ahead of time then deal with surprises when the bill comes.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                          This is the best way to go. As other posters have already voiced, the notion of not paying for everything is always a no-no. So let people know in the most direct way possible what is and is not on the house.

                                        2. "Let's get together at XYZ Crawfish. I'll be covering the crawfish. They also have a bar and a la carte menu items if you have interest in those items".

                                          1. Put a sign out front painted on a sheet of plywood.


                                            Anyone that doesn't want crawfish and tap water
                                            should bring cash

                                            1. I don't particularly love partially hosted gatherings, though I acknowledge that they're more and more common these days, as people often don't have the space to entertain at home, or the budget to throw an all out shindig in public. So, given that this is how you want to throw this party, these are my suggestions on making sure no one is caught unawares.

                                              First of all, arrange this with the restaurant in advance -- tell them how many people you're inviting and that you don't want them to provide menus to your party because you're ordering the crawfish and only the crawfish for everyone. Ask them to have the staff let guests who order anything else know that it will be a separate charge, billed to them personally.

                                              Then, on the invitation, be explicit that you're inviting people for a crawfish dinner and that everything else is pay your own. I'd suggest something along this line:

                                              It's not a secret that John is getting older, but it is a secret that we're gathering all of his friends and family together to celebrate with him.

                                              We're having a crawfish boil at Carter's Crawfish Compound on Friday, June 17th. Please arrive by 7pm, as John will be arriving at 7:15 and we want everyone in place to yell surprise when he walks in the door.

                                              Crawfish and the usual fixings are on us, drinks (and other orders) will be billed separately.

                                              1. Please join me for a surprise party for my husband! The party will be at [time] on [date], at [restaurant]. As the restaurant specializes in crawfish, we will order a sufficient amount of crawfish at our expense for everyone to enjoy; however, if you would like to order beverages or other food items, please be mindful that you will have to pay for those.

                                                1. Kind of a weird question but are you paying for non-alcoholic drinks? If guests want tea or lemonade or a Coke, are you picking up the tab? Or, no beverages, period.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    Not a weird question at all. I was wondering the same thing myself. I would hope that iced tea and the like are covered.

                                                    1. re: miss_belle

                                                      Trying to see if they will provide those but yes those will be covered. But 99% of guest will be drinking alcohol.

                                                      1. re: Jojo34

                                                        Simply stating "cash bar available" on the invitation is the easy part. Nothing else needs to be said there imo. But I'm not sure about the food problem.. Maybe " menu provided at additional cost to guest" or something like that. I threw "to guest" in there because that really leaves no room for misunderstanding:-)

                                                        Or "attendee" might be a better word. Since they'll be paying for everything they're really not your guests.

                                                        1. re: miss_belle

                                                          They are my guest for a crawfish boil. If they want to ear something else that is there choice. I use to not eat crawfish and everytime we went to a crawfish boil I always brought my own food because I knew there was not an option- same thing here just at a restaurant and not at a house

                                                          1. re: Jojo34

                                                            It helps to understand that is the culture of these events where you live and within your circles.
                                                            I'm assuming that invitees are by and large nonplussed about buying their own food at a restaurant.

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              I would think bringing your own food into a restaurant is frowned upon.

                                                            2. re: Jojo34

                                                              Crawfish boil is different than just crawfish...which contributed to some of the confusion here. If that's what it is then " join us for a crawfish boil at X in honor of Y. Cash bar."

                                                    2. Just curious…

                                                      How many people are coming to this party?
                                                      The reason I'm asking is if it's a small, intimate party then I think your closest friends/family can understand your budget constraints and be forewarned about what you're doing.
                                                      If it's a large party then it gets a little more complicated and you're not able to talk to people, it'll be only by invitation.
                                                      People talk and, as some other poster mentioned, they draw their own conclusions.

                                                      1. I am not a fan of partially-hosted events and I hate surprise parties, so I should probably recluse myself.

                                                        Having said that there have been some good suggestions....and I would include wording that they should not bring a gift. If they are expected to pay for their libations, they should not be expected to bring a gift.

                                                        1. If you are requiring them to pay then they are not your 'guests'. I would leave out mention of crawfish entirely and have the bugs be a surprise addition to the table(s).

                                                          1. I must be an old fart. It's my considered opinion that you have the size of affair you can afford to host. If your attendees pay for themselves, you are not their host.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                              This is the same as if I had it at my house, the difference is there will be a full kitchen and I can't tell "my guest" to not order because I ordered crawfish. If they decide to eat something else that is there choice. If it were at my house there would be no other choice.

                                                              1. re: Jojo34

                                                                Wouldn't the choice be that if it were at your house, the non-crawfish guests could bring their own food?
                                                                You alluded above that is what you do, or did.

                                                                I'm trying to understand if you're equating a house crawfish boil (where guest are free to bring food/drink) with one at a restaurant?

                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                    That's my impression, and in my way of thinking, there's a distinct difference.
                                                                    That doesn't make it wrong, it just needs to be made very clear.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      This notion that there are certain rules of "hosting" that if one doesn't follow x or y specific step means that one is no longer hosting is absurd.

                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                        I've given no road map, that's what absurd about your comment.

                                                                        In my mind, the OP is organizing a get together, which is not unlike gathering friends together just because.

                                                                        The term "hosting" and "guests" takes on a different connotation to me.

                                                                        Look, this is a polyphonic board and lots of people are sharing what they think.
                                                                        I NEVER said the OP was wrong, so don't even infer I did.
                                                                        I did no such thing.

                                                                        If the OP wants to call it hosting, no skin off my nose.

                                                                1. re: Jojo34

                                                                  Then have it at your house or don't have it.

                                                              2. Is there any possibility that this restaurant would cater the crawfish boil at your place? Then the BYOB part becomes simple, and maybe you could get a close relative or good friend to bring an entree and such.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                  Pretty hard to have a catered surprise party at home. Not impossible, but the logistics would be daunting.

                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                    Surprises always are; and you're right, the home element does present additional challenges. Still, it could be done.

                                                                  2. re: mcsheridan

                                                                    Not able to pull this off at my house. He will figure it out

                                                                    1. re: Jojo34

                                                                      This comment made me smile. I threw a surprise birthday party for my ex once. I had to do a lot of fancy talking to keep it a surprise because he was oh so confused by my cleaning frenzy the couple days before and my request that he help me rearrange furniture. :)

                                                                  3. If I cannot afford to host a party I change either the venue, the menu or the guest list.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                        I can afford to host a crawfish boil and that is what I am doing but since there is a full kitchens have no control on what my guest will ask the waiters.

                                                                      2. Is it at all possible to offer 1 or 2 other options for people who don't/can't eat crawfish?

                                                                        I agree, those who choose to or can't participate in the crawfish are not your guests at all.
                                                                        You're paying for nothing of theirs.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          So if I did this at my house and someone came who did not eat bc they do not like CF and brought there own drinks are not a guest in my home bc they are not eating the food I provided and others are?

                                                                          1. re: Jojo34

                                                                            They are guests in your home, yes, of course. You are supplying things beyond food and drink.
                                                                            Venue, heat, a/c, bathrooms, seating, tables, tableware etc.

                                                                            You are not hosting at a restaurant those who you are not paying for.
                                                                            For those, they can thank you for organizing the event.

                                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                                            That remind me of a birthday party I attended. The invitation stated that cake would be provided, and any ordered items are the responsibilities of the guests (I cannot remember but the hostess probably explained that to me verbally).

                                                                            It was new to me but I tried to be understanding to that she was trying to throw a party within a budget that suits her. The guests ended up ordering full meals, snacks or just a drink.

                                                                            The difference between the birthday cake and the crawfish is that, more people would be able to enjoy the cake (at a birthday party) than the crawfish :-)

                                                                          3. I am quite surprised by the responses that seem to indicate that the OP is not "Hosting" or is providing an insufficient party

                                                                            they are throwing a crawfish boil -
                                                                            on the menu are crawfish and soft drinks
                                                                            this is the event they are hosting - cash bar.

                                                                            while it is important they convey the parameters of the event to guests there is nothing odd, cheap or insufficient about this party and nothing that disqualifies the OP as a "Host"

                                                                            just because the establishment offers other menu items the OP is not obligated to provide those for her guests personal tastes.

                                                                            for crawfish boils specifically eating crawfish is inherently a communal thing, messy, juicy, sloppy -and it is assumed that crawfish, not a full restaurant menu is what is being served - they are not invited to dinner and told on arrival dinner will be crawfish of nothing - this is known in advance

                                                                            26 Replies
                                                                            1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                              Not to be argumentative, but...why is the OP asking how to tell people if everybody knows what a crawfish boil entails?

                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                for the point of clarity and because of course you could throw an open bar/full menu event - she is choosing not to. Everything does not have to be a royal wedding.

                                                                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                  There's a lot of real estate between a crawfish boil and a royal wedding.

                                                                                  Maybe there's something inexpensive the OP could order to offer people/guests so they too can participate in the spirit of this party- a hosted event for the guest of honor.

                                                                                  A limited menu is fine- you can't please everyone.
                                                                                  But I think there ought to be at least A choice.

                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                    I assume a crayfish boil is similar to a MD crab feast. Typically there is no choice.

                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                      Not sure if the OP is having a "boil", which I consider to include corn and potato.
                                                                                      I'd love to be invited to a crab boil.

                                                                                2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                  This is the point I was trying to make.

                                                                                  If the people the OP is inviting know/understand what a 'crawfish boil' means then I don't understand what the issue is…
                                                                                  Invite the people, be very specific what is being paid for, and how in the world will people be offended? They already know what a crawfish boil is so why would they be shocked at the invitation no matter how it's worded?
                                                                                  It's in the definition...BYOB…crawfish being paid for by the host.

                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                    I'm just confused by the whole thing at this point.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      I don't think the OP was suggesting there was an issue, just asking for advice on the wording.

                                                                                  2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                    "however I know some people do not eat crawfish"

                                                                                    ...is a bit of a problem.

                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                      must you accommodate every guest? It is a party for the DH - he is the crawfish lover. The non crawfish eaters are not obligated to attend - if someone invited me to a scrapple fest I would decline or bring a sandwich

                                                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                        You have many more options to BYOF at a home, not a restaurant, and of course, anyone can choose to decline.

                                                                                        There appears to be people who the OP KNOWS do NOT eat crawfish.
                                                                                        It seems a bit of a slight to offer NOTHING else.

                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                          It may be that amongst those who do not eat crawfish there isn't a perfect middle ground. Perhaps one person is a vegetarian, another is allergic to shellfish but will want meat, and a third doesn't like eating with their hands and is avoiding carbs and red meat. Maybe this is a place where by offering one alternative option it will only serve to highlight how the vegetarian is being attended to, while the others are expected to fend for self.

                                                                                          Presumably the OP is better acquainted with the guests attending and the various interests on hand.

                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                            Crawfish disgust me. But I understand that sometimes a person just wants to have a crawfish boil party. No slight. Not my thing. I'll find a way to have fun anyway.

                                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                                              And those are the people who will be cool with going and paying their own way.

                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                Well it's either that or not go at all. They have no other choice.

                                                                                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                  Go or not go is everyone's choice. Goodness, it's not like it's a one week event that will leave non crawfish eating people starving.

                                                                                      2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                        I lived in the South (Gulf Coast USA) for many years.

                                                                                        A "Boil" was usually held on a dock/deck in someone's backyard.

                                                                                        Often the host provided "sides" (slaw,potatoes, bread, perhaps cobbler for dessert), but if not, the attendees brought these (would this be possible in the restaurant setting?).

                                                                                        The host also usually provided beverages (soda, often beer) or at least coolers where guests could chill their "gifts".

                                                                                        I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of making this work in a traditional restaurant setting?

                                                                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                          We've had many crab feasts like this but rarely in restaurants. I think you could call ahead and see if you could go family style on some sides. I don't personally care about the lack of alcohol since I don't drink but many of my friends do so I'd offer beer and wine. In my social group, some flasks would make an appearance :) so cocktails wouldn't be an issue. It's just odd to me to offer one very specific menu item and nothing else. I can't think of anything I wouldn't want a little something else with.

                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                            " I can't think of anything I wouldn't want a little something else with."

                                                                                            Uh, crabs ;-)
                                                                                            Oh, no, wrong.
                                                                                            Must also have butter.

                                                                                          2. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                            @ Monavo - it would be nice to offer an alternate but as long as invitees know the deal in advance attending is their choice - this sounds like a pretty casual event. If I don't want crawfish I can pay for a burger - no biggie

                                                                                            @ Pedalfaster - I assume the # of crawfish ordered will come with at least bread and corn or whatever the restaurant traditionally serves with crawfish - it sounds as if crawfish is a specialty of this establishment as it is the reason it was chosen so they should be able to pull off a boil.

                                                                                            if the OP is not clear on the parameters in advance and everyone just orders whatever they want off the menu (chicken nuggets for every parents special picky little angel , a steak for uncle joe, steamed tilapia for aunt sue's special diet - the cost of the event could be quite extreme - (especially since the Crawfish are already ordered and paid for)

                                                                                            1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                              " JTPhilly 4 minutes ago
                                                                                              @ Monavo - it would be nice to offer an alternate but as long as invitees know the deal in advance attending is their choice - this sounds like a pretty casual event. If I don't want crawfish I can pay for a burger - no biggie"

                                                                                              Agree- it's got to be spelled out.
                                                                                              To your point, it sounds casual, so it's not like I'm being invited to The French Laundry and their having a salmon party.
                                                                                              I'd be screwed!

                                                                                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                If they have reserved a private party-room or specified table general menus should not even be handed to the guests.

                                                                                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                  Right, it's usually a small selection.
                                                                                                  Sometimes, you can even bring your own beer/wine etc.

                                                                                                  That's probably not the case here, though, and I really get how $$$$$$$ alcohol can get.
                                                                                                  It's a game changer and a bank account emptier.

                                                                                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                  Hear hear JT!!

                                                                                                  Threads like this make me eternally grateful for my friends and family who understand events like this are about spending time with people they care for, not about obsessing over etiquette or griping because someone did something differently than they would have.

                                                                                                  Jojo, I think some of the more helpful (and recommended) suggestions on wording above would be fine. And I hope your husband has a wonderful time.

                                                                                                2. "Cash bar.
                                                                                                  The drink list and the full menu will also be made available on the side for those who want to order on their own."

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                    That leaves who is paying for it a bit nebulous.

                                                                                                    "The restaurant also serves a variety of alcoholic beverages and food which is your responsibility, should you choose.
                                                                                                    Here's the website:"

                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                      I'm trying....

                                                                                                      "Cash bar.
                                                                                                      The drink list and the full menu will also be available for separate purchases."

                                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                        Right, something along those lines.

                                                                                                        I think you can only go so far with smoothing over the fact that the host is basically telling the invitees that some of them on are their own.

                                                                                                        The best she can do is be very upfront and specific.
                                                                                                        Leave nothing to be assumed.

                                                                                                        If everyone knows exactly how this party is arranged, financially, then they will be prepared with proper expectations.
                                                                                                        I think it's safe to assume, however, that if the invitees know ahead of time, and they agree to come, a good time will be had by all.

                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                          "...the host is basically telling the invitees that some of them on are their own."

                                                                                                          Or, rather, the host is telling the invitees that if they're not into the party he/she is throwing, they can do their own thing and the host will not be offended.

                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                            I find the 'host" taking offense to be rather ironic.

                                                                                                  2. I am starting to wonder if people's reactions to this type of party ('partially hosted') are based not just on age and social milieu but also urban vs. suburban/rural? In my city, houses are small, and getting more expensive all the time (at this rate I will not be trading up from my 3 bed, 1 bath "starter" semi because the slightly upgraded houses on my street are going for 900K). There's a maximum to how many people you can have in your small urban home comfortably.
                                                                                                    And yet, most people want to be invited to social events and help their friends and families celebrate landmarks. Currently in my circle it's people turning 40 - these are not yearly parties but maybe the first big party thrown since a wedding. The people I know don't want to be left out because you're throwing "the party you can afford" for a select few, whether in your home or out. Nobody I know expects these large parties to be hosted in bars/restaurants. Restaurant hosting really only happens within families. Typically at a bar so people can mingle, the organizer/inviter (I'll avoid using the word host) will pre-order ample food, but not of the guest's choosing, similar to a house party, or this crawfish boil.

                                                                                                    47 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                      Public parks where you can rent spaces are also an option, depending where you live.
                                                                                                      Although...sometimes booze can be a problem ;-(

                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                        "sometimes booze can be a problem "

                                                                                                        I think those rules are in place to keep people from getting out of control.

                                                                                                        In my ~50 years I've never been harassed for serving/drinking a (plastic)glass of wine at a picnic or a can of beer at a clambake.

                                                                                                        It's not that I think these alcoholic drinks are "necessary", but they are often traditional and expected with certain foods.

                                                                                                        Kind of like serving short-cake and strawberries without the whipped cream? Who does that???

                                                                                                            1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                              Depends on where and when... in my city, a large party of drinking adults would attract attention in most parks, and possibly become a problem. Wine at a romantic dinner or family picnic table, not so much (glug glug...).
                                                                                                              But if I just wanted a small group, the problem of space kinda goes away anyway.

                                                                                                            2. re: monavano

                                                                                                              Alcohol is prohibited in all NYC parks, although they probably will not waste a lot of time enforcing that unless you have a large rowdy group. You have to get a permit if you're going to be cooking and there are a limited number of cooking areas. In general NYC parks aren't a great option for anything other than cold-dish potlucks.

                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                  Yes, it is. Because we have a lot of beautiful parks here, and most people here don't have big apartments or access to the backyard. I wish the parks department would try to make the whole experience a little friendlier for people.

                                                                                                            3. re: julesrules

                                                                                                              I'm in the DC metro area and I'm 32. My friends are early 20's to late 40's so a huge range of lifestyles. We've got an acre but a fairly small house so we won't entertain much in the winter. My brother used the common area of his apartment complex to throw a birthday party and it worked wonderfully. I've been to public parks, concerts, fire halls, church basements, garages, friend's of the host's house, apartment party rooms, etc. There are tons of ways to host, but when ya host, ya host completely.

                                                                                                              1. re: Hobbert


                                                                                                                My stepdaughter hosted a party at a restaurant for my husband's 60th birthday. She saved and paid for everything. It was roughly 20 people with heavy appetizers (including lamb lollipops, so I'm not talking cheap eats) and red wine, white wine and champagne. She was in dental school at the time so wasn't cash flush but made it happen.

                                                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                  With the price of crawfish and two drinks each figure a minimum $400 for twenty people.

                                                                                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                    Which isn't much at all. I think my stepdaughter spent about $1500.

                                                                                                                    Especially for a birthday, it isn't as if you don't know when it is going to happen.

                                                                                                                    My hope is that the OP at least requests no gifts.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                      It's a crawfish boil. I've been to a lot of them and nobody spends $1500 for twenty people, A crawfish boil, I don't care if it's a birthday, anniversary, VJ day, or whatever, nobody spends that. BYOB is also the norm.

                                                                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                          Yes, it is.

                                                                                                                          Having said that there are people who would rather feed their guests hotdogs and lemonade than ask their guests to pay for anything they've been invited to.

                                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                            No doubt.....but it's a birthday and there has been time to plan accordingly.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                              Yes, the plan being: Serve guests a traditional crawfish boil with NA drinks.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                      Yeah, my crowd wants to party. We get babysitters for these events (not provided by the host either ;))
                                                                                                                      Parks, in season, are great for kid's parties - we have about 3 months of guaranteed decent park weather here. My local church basement charges something like $300 for insurance and rental. I would assume "adult" parties aren't allowed anyway, but the price is high for anyone who truly needs a low-budget option for a kids' party, tea or whatever. Garages tend to be small (and cold in the winter). I do know some people who have access to apartment and condo party rooms, well 2 people to be exact. Not enough availability to expect them to provide space for every party.
                                                                                                                      I believe *the people I know* would simply rather be invited than left out of a party that was planned around rules their crowd doesn't actually follow or even know about.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                        Again I am hosting a "crawfish boil" it just happens to be at a restaurant

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                          If most people in your circle understand this, then I don't see a problem to begin with.
                                                                                                                          Just be clear just in case some invitees don't now how these things roll.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                              Then what am I doing and what is the difference if it was at my house, beside venue?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                Purposely not addressing food offering for the "guests" who you have made clear, do NOT eat crawfish.

                                                                                                                                Home- bring your own food, I'm cool with that.
                                                                                                                                Restaurant- be prepared to pay.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                  You are inviting people to a party where you know some of them won't eat the food you are providing. (That's "Come watch me eat food you don't like.") You are inviting those people to buy their own food. (That's "Please accompany us to a restaurant at your own expense.") I'm not aware of a term for that, etiquette-wise. It sure as hell is not hosting.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                    To be honest, Chowhound (this board specifically) is the only place I eve see people quibbling over the semantics of the word "hosting".

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                      You should probably check out any of a number of etiquette guides and how they define 'hosting'.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                          Because Judith Martin (Miss Manners) and Emily Post, to name a couple, are pretty clear on what "hosting" means. Hosts pay. Guests do not.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                            Again, I find the semantics fairly uninteresting, so I will pass.

                                                                                                                                            I also find much of Ms Martin and Ms Posts's advice wildly outdated, and don't take it in the place of common sense for the current times.

                                                                                                                                2. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                  Yes, OP, organizer of party, person handing over the card for the planned food and NA drinks, is indeed hosting.

                                                                                                                                3. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                  Yes, you said that a few times now. My post was information about me, personally. Nothing to do with your crawfish boil.

                                                                                                                              2. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                Agreed about the urban/suburban/rural.

                                                                                                                                I've found that there's some sort of line --both by age and population density.
                                                                                                                                <45yo City would expect to pay individually when invited and told "we're all meeting at ____ Restaurant for John's Surprise bday party that I'm hosting."
                                                                                                                                <35yo city/suburban would expect to pay individually when invited and told "we're all meeting at ____ Restaurant for John's Surprise bday party that I'm hosting."
                                                                                                                                <25yo would expect to pay individually when invited and told "we're all meeting at ____ Restaurant for John's Surprise bday party that I'm hosting."
                                                                                                                                Above those ages, and the Party Planners emerge with all the questions, what-if's, and more rigid social etiquette rules.

                                                                                                                                [Flame-able comment?]

                                                                                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                  Loved your post.
                                                                                                                                  Have just found that as I get older (45+, USA) the Host just pays. Period.

                                                                                                                                  The idea is: everyone at the table is on a level playing field(financially). S/He who pays this time will be a guest next time. It will all work out in the end.

                                                                                                                                  Quibbling over the bill looks cheap.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                    It's funny because I can think of two cash bar parties organized recently by the grandparents' generation, in one case you had to buy tickets to the event to cover food as well (ok I can admit that was pushing it even for me, but I went). One of these couples is on a budget, one is actually quite well-off (close to the extremes of my circles actually). So it's not even an age or wealth thing in my circles. I don't think the vast majority of people I know expect to be hosted at a restaurant, ever, unless it's a wedding, basically.
                                                                                                                                    Anyway I don't actually believe in a right or wrong for these scenarios, just that I don't think anyone should assume their rules apply all over. They just don't. And it's a matter of differing expectations, not morality or superiority. Personally I see a lot of beauty in communities coming together to celebrate.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                      I don't think this is all that flameworthy -- it reads fairly true to my experiences, as well. I think what we're seeing is essentially a middle class shift in etiquette.

                                                                                                                                      A lot of traditional, formalized western etiquette is basically the etiquette of the wealthy classes. Rich people can always afford to throw a big party, invite all their friends and wine and dine them, and next week, their friends can do the same for them.

                                                                                                                                      But now we have a working/middle class that has disposable income and leisure time. So more not-rich people are throwing events that are more formal (while still not being Formal in the classic sense) and everyone wants to do things the 'right' way -- but the guidance they have for what the 'right' way is is based on what people with manor houses and servants and very large investments did, so it's not the easiest thing to do.

                                                                                                                                      Much like in project management, where you can have any two of cheaper, faster or better, but never all three, when it comes to hosting events, you can have two of cheaper, fancier or bigger (in terms of guest list) but not all three. Asking your guests to cover part of their cost is trying to get all three at once, but since some guests still end up annoyed, or can't afford their own bills, you end up with something that's either less fancy (because BYO is inherently less formal than fully hosted) or with a smaller guest list or both.

                                                                                                                                      I'm old school enough to prefer fully hosting major events, but I'm also young enough to have a lot of experience with BYO, potlucks, everyone chip in for the birthday girl, and other shared entertainments of that nature. I used to try to issue invitations that didn't clarify these kinds of details, under the assumption that people would realize that if I didn't mention a cash bar or how they should pay for their meals, they didn't need to worry about it. But then I found out that some of my invitees were declining to attend events because they assumed they'd have to pay their share and couldn't afford it. So now I always try to be clear on what I'm providing and not in invitations. It feels a little less festive to me, but I'd rather have a slightly less festive invitation and all my friends able to attend than a more festive one that prompts people to stay home.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                        Totally agree. I also think there's not so much a class issue....but my social circle is largely comprised of those within nonprofit/academic/creative type fields. This contributes to there existing some strong income disparities.

                                                                                                                                        In the realm of celebrating, by having events that are partially-hosted or organized it can allow for things to be paid for in a way that better works for the group. For those who make more, if they're in the mood for an extra round or that really pricey bottle of wine or another splurge - they're able to contribute that to the party. For those in a tighter spot, they can adjust accordingly.

                                                                                                                                        At least for my group, this works far better than the wealthier folks classically hosting all the time while those who are less well off feeling pressure to reciprocate.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                          46 years, big town (~100,000). Other than weddings, I would assume I was paying my way at a restaurant unless the invite clearly said otherwise.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                            46 years, NJ. Total opposite. I would assume the host is paying unless otherwise stated.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                              I wouldn't know what to expect, really (31 years; major city) and I would be prepared for either scenario without being offended if I paid my own way.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                              DH and I are both 55+. I am always prepared to pay individually, when gathering at a restaurant for a party. A friend of mine has arranged for a cluster of tables at a local eatery, to celebrate her 40th birthday. We are all expecting to pay individually. If she pays for some appies or a round of cocktails, I'll be pleasantly surprised. And I will say, "thank you!" If she does not pay for ANYthing, I'll be happy to have been included in the circle of friends. It's my understanding that 15-20 ppl have been invited.

                                                                                                                                            3. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                              possibly - houses in my neighborhood are small (mine is 13' wide) and bars and restaurants are plenty. It is not uncommon for celebrations to be held in a bar - with the expectation that NOTHING is provided other than the presence of the "Birthday boy" or whomever - maybe someone brings a cake. Even house parties are largely BYOB and sometimes BYOF. Occasionally events are in a "space" like a workshop or warehouse or park and some music/food is provided but people still bring. This is an urban, not particularly wealthy, creative-type environment.

                                                                                                                                              In the affluent burbs where I grew up large parties were often hosted at country clubs or event halls and dinner parties are had in houses - often staffed and definitely fully hosted.

                                                                                                                                              In that world it would be weird to limit guests choices - in my world it's more like "Hey Crawfish! Dig in, Awesome...and if you are a gluten sensitive raw vegan then, well I hope you have something in your panier... oh good can I try some"

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                Yes when I had a house party to celebrate my 40th (which was crowded but what I really wanted to do), people brought TONS of food and drink (and other shareable contributions). It was not potluck, I provided food and asked closer friends to contribute in lieu of gift, but in the end there was about 3 times too much food because just about everybody brought something and some people brought a LOT. There were 4 or 5 cakes alone. It was actually a bit much but I was extremely grateful.
                                                                                                                                                Anyway, point being even if you "host' at home here people are not expecting a fully hosted event. BYOB pretty much goes without saying, although hosts always have on hand for those who didn't bring, which is also acceptable. Shocking!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                I think that has a lot to do with it. If 'at night' and alcohol are part of the event, that rules out most public parks (not even commenting on how weather can impact an event like that). Also, once you start going to events like that, it's not as uncommon and they begin to develop their own etiquette.

                                                                                                                                                I'm 32 and I've never been to an adult birthday party of a peer where I was a true "guest". Instead they've been a mix of potlucks, 'meet up with me at x bar', and variations on that theme. I'm very happy to help my friends celebrate their birthdays and I'm happy that they help celebrate mine.

                                                                                                                                                That all being said - there are ways events like this can be planned poorly and create for confusion and disappointment, and ways they can be planned well.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                  Ditto this. I wouldn't be offended, at all, by what the OP is suggesting. I would be mildly annoyed by any confusion about who is paying for what, which is what I suppose the OP was trying to avoid by posing her question to CH.

                                                                                                                                                  I think there is no "norm" any more when it comes to these things. It depends very much on your social circle, geography, age, etc...

                                                                                                                                                2. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                  Completely agree. Almost all the parties in my social circles now are not at someone's house but are celebrated at a restaurant or bar's party room/area. The host might provide some appetizers but drinks and anything else you want to eat are on you. I've been to these for people getting new jobs, for birthdays, for various other informal celebrations. People drift in and out and many don't RSVP at all or are last -minute with cancellations, so it would be a big waste of money to try to pay for everyone you expect since a) you never know how many to expect b) some people won't eat what's served - a lot more vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, paleo, etc. these days - and c) so many people cancel last minute.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                    "In my city, houses are small, and getting more expensive all the time"

                                                                                                                                                    In my city (NYC), most houses are apartments and getting more expensive all the time. For many people here regardless of income level they don't entertain groups of more than six at home. Although I'm sure the higher income people do host all-inclusive restaurant parties most invites are more like the OP's - host pays for food and not the bar. Or the whole event is pay-your-own-way. The important thing is everyone getting to socialize together in a place they can all fit.

                                                                                                                                                    When I was younger and before I got together with Mr Rat, I had parties roughly once a month where I'd have people over and provided all the food and none of the booze/other intoxicants. We still plan our larger parties this way although we have fewer of them because of Mr Rat's work schedule. Mr Rat and I are both good cooks, we have a great record collection, and nobody has ever complained.

                                                                                                                                                  2. "Attention crawfish lovers! Please join us for a crawfish boil at Bob's Crawfish House! The delicious secret crawfish recipe at Bob's Crawfish House will delight the crawfish aficionado in you!
                                                                                                                                                    (Cash Bar)"

                                                                                                                                                    That should get the point across.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Nevermind the surprise part ------ If I were the guest of honor, I would not be comfortable with this at all, and would likely pick up the whole tab.

                                                                                                                                                      41 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                        Interesting. I hasn't considered that angle. My dad would rather drop dead than have his guests pay. I, too, wouldn't be wild about it..well, obviously, from my posts. Hopefully, the OP knows what her husband thinks. Haha I'll have to ask my husband tonight cuz I have no idea what he would think.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                          My husband would pick up the tab as well.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                            For us, once you're a couple years past college, you host completely. Potlucks are the only exception and I don't see a ton of those. You just throw the type of party you can afford. I'd like to have a super high end formal dinner but it's not gonna happen. I think you mentioned upthread that birthdays don't sneak up on you. If I had my heart set on a certain type of event, I'd figure out how much I needed and start saving.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                              Throw the type of party you can afford....

                                                                                                                                                              Isn't that what the OP is trying to do? Has defined the party--crawfish boil--wants advice on how to word invite?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                She openly admitted she can't afford the type of party she's giving…
                                                                                                                                                                Hence the request for recommendations on the invitations.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                  No, she CAN afford the type of party she is giving. A crawfish boil with non alcoholic beverages. She is asking for advice on how to clearly specify that on the invites.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                    That's not how I'm reading her OP.
                                                                                                                                                                    She's giving a surprise party for her husband.
                                                                                                                                                                    She's supplying the crawfish and sides.
                                                                                                                                                                    She's telling people, who don't like the crawfish, they're being asked to pay for their own entree.
                                                                                                                                                                    She specifically said she can't afford to pay for anything other than what she's offering.
                                                                                                                                                                    She can't afford to host (she thinks it's hosting) in a restaurant venue.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                      I once threw my partner a party at a restaurant function room. The food offered was pizza, salad, beer and wine.

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't get as hung up on the word "hosting" as so many here do but I don't consider this a party I didn't host because I didn't offer up shots of Johnny Walker Blue to the guests.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                        The word "hosting" apparently hits a nerve with some people and what it impiies.
                                                                                                                                                                        I really have never given that one much thought…who really cares?
                                                                                                                                                                        What I don't understand, but have begun to realize after reading many threads like this over the years, is the idea that it's become fashionable and acceptable to ask guests to purchase their own booze.
                                                                                                                                                                        I had a wedding at my home a few years ago. I was shocked at the guests who were overcome with excitement that there were several open bars where *I* was paying for everything. I had every known liquor available and people went crazy. It was a grand party. I would have NEVER thought to do it any other way. People purchasing booze in my home or at any other venue? Are you kidding me?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                          I saw someone go up to the bar at the party I threw and pay for a Jamesons and ginger, because I had only provided beer and wine for the guests. We all lived to tell the tale.

                                                                                                                                                                          (Maybe they bitched about me being a terrible host endlessly on a message board though, who knows?)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                            I go to a lot of events, personal and professional, private parties, celebrations, charity auctions, etc at restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                            99% of the time, they are "no host bars". That is the expectation. Coffee, water, soft drinks are included, along with the food on offer...but not your personal bar tab, and not if you choose to order something else on the menu. Sometimes, wine is included, but that is the exception.

                                                                                                                                                                            It is not unusual where I live.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh I agree.
                                                                                                                                                                              I'm never offended by having to pay for anything, at the many events I go to, above and beyond what is offered free.
                                                                                                                                                                              I'm making the point that 40+ years ago it wasn't socially acceptable to have the guest pay for anything when invited to an event. Period.
                                                                                                                                                                              Things have obviously changed and becoming VERY acceptable and expected.
                                                                                                                                                                              As a matter of fact the subject of this entire thread would have never come. The person giving the party would simply make/prepare/offer what they could afford and serve it…
                                                                                                                                                                              Nobody would have been asked to pay for ANYTHING.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                "I'm making the point that 40+ years ago it wasn't socially acceptable to have the guest pay for anything when invited to an event. Period."

                                                                                                                                                                                Nope, sorry, rent parties have a long history among the income-challenged. They have never gone out of style here in NYC and in fact I was lucky enough to be invited to one in Harlem around six months ago - plenty of world-class soul food, awesome music and a crowd that REALLY knew how to dance. And funny to watch the competition between the funk/soul crowd and the reggae/salsa people for control of the turntable.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                  So the guests paid for their own way during one of these parties? I've been to plenty of parties, several of the style you're talking about, and NONE of those friends, who gave the party, would have asked the attendees to pay for anything. As a matter of fact, very recently, attended an anniversary in S LA, where asking to pay for a drink would have insulted the 'host'.
                                                                                                                                                                                  So, sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                    In a rent party everybody pays to get into the party. That's the way it's always been. They always provide food and entertainment. Some have cash bars, in others the entry fee means you drink freely. The fee is,you know, to help the partythrowers to pay their rent. People do it as a kind of benefit for somebody they actually know and like as opposed to some abstract charity object.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                      And aren't we lucky those rent parties existed! An important part of jazz history.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                        You're talkng about a totally different concept.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Rent parties have been part of a cultural heritage that's been around since the early part of the turn of the century.
                                                                                                                                                                                        People/participants collecting money for a common passion isn't what we're talking about here.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Having been part of a very large, prolific musical background, primarily jazz, I'm very well aware of what you're talking about.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                          Common passion? Paying the rent is a common passion?

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's not a totally different concept. It is an illustration of the variability in accepted "hosting" practices.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. It's true you probably don't get the invite unless you share the passion, but the money charge isn't for the passion, it's to help pay the rent we all have to pay.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, common passion…

                                                                                                                                                                                              Musicians share a common passion…it's sorta how it all works, it's how alot of things work.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Without the common passion many concepts, like this, would have never been instituted.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                I get this, having been partnered with a jazz musician for more than 20 years and pretty well steeped in our local jazz culture. I was pointing out that the money for rent parties really was for rent.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes. The cost of a decent cocktail (not just a "well drink") is now 7 to 10 bucks per person. The days of paying for everything came to a screeching halt several year ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I believe that someone hosting a private party, in good faith, that wants to just share and have a good time...not to impress and not trying to be " put on the ritz" .....just wants to share, those folks need to be encouraged to pay for what they can and not feel obligated to foot the *huge* bar tab for everyone that shows up. They shouldn't be made to feel "cheap". It's a party, most are friends or family. Sometimes these threads get weird about that, IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                          I can afford the type of party I am planning which is a "CRAWFISH BOIL" I am not throwing a dinner party where I pay for everyone's tab and they can order whatever they want. This is a specific type of party here in the South.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jojo34


                                                                                                                                                                            Please accept my apologies if I, at all, offended you.
                                                                                                                                                                            The type of party you've described crawfish boil, is something new to me. I find it very thoughtful, on your part, that you'd consider other guests who don't like what you're offering. It sounds delicious and fun.
                                                                                                                                                                            In my opinion, it's more than gracious on your part.
                                                                                                                                                                            I've been to so many parties, these many years of mine, where if the guests didn't like what was served then they really had to go without or eat what was served.
                                                                                                                                                                            The host offered what they could and the guests adapted.
                                                                                                                                                                            You're having the party at a restaurant and so things are a little different, of course. I think your plan, along with your carefully worded invitation will be a wonderful, great success…
                                                                                                                                                                            Many more years of health and happiness and happy birthday to your husband.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                              I am in NYC and have lived here all my life. Why then did you not explain what you have just stated; Crawfish Boil does not equal diner party.
                                                                                                                                                                              Please clarify for those of us in the dark, so we do not have all of this useless chatter.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                      Ok, but from your post above about garages and parks and so on, I got the impression nobody you knew would ever throw a partially hosted party! Yes, best to clue in your husband that this is the way the world works.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                        Correct. Aside from potlucks, no one I know throws a partially hosted party.

                                                                                                                                                                        As an aside, I don't clue my husband in about anything. He's pretty clear on how the world works. Let's keep it to the topic at hand, shall we?

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                        Not asking them to pay for the crawfish boil as which this is what I am hosting but if anything else they want (salad, fried shrimp etc) that is not what I am hosting

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                          I would be humiliated and our relationship would be strained if I were your surprise guest of honor.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                            The party is for her husband. Presumably she knows him well enough to know that he will be thrilled that she planned a loving surprise, rather than humiliated that she didn't also pay the bar tab.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                              At some level, this is obviously acceptable since the OP knows DH and her guests.

                                                                                                                                                                              If this is her final plan, then she just needs to be very clear so no one goes in there thinking that alcohol or anything but that boil is being offered by the OP.

                                                                                                                                                                              Beyond that, what can ya do?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                >Presumably she knows him well enough>

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm friends with a couple who've been married 20 years.
                                                                                                                                                                                The wife decided to give a surprise birthday party (she'd never done it before in the past) and when he walked into the party, with 50 guests SURPRISE!!! he walked out the opposite door of their house.
                                                                                                                                                                                She never knew he hated surprises where all the attention was directed at him.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                              I think what has at least me scratching my head, that hasn't really been addressed, is that in your original post, you said, clearly, that you are aware that some guests you plan to invite to your party do not eat what you're offering.

                                                                                                                                                                              That's what wouldn't sit well with me, as a host, that is.

                                                                                                                                                                              It would make me feel uneasy that there are some guest accommodated, and some not.

                                                                                                                                                                              I understand anyone's knee-jerk reaction to get defensive and I'm sure to you it sounds offensive.
                                                                                                                                                                              It's not my intent.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm just trying to relate that everyone, all guests, should be treated equally.
                                                                                                                                                                              Or at least accommodated further with another option.

                                                                                                                                                                              That said, corn and potatoes are filling.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                I agree mono.....I have been to parties at restaurant and there is always more than one choice that the host provides.

                                                                                                                                                                                But if I was hosting at my house, I'd provide something else if some guests did not like crawfish.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'd also entertain guests who bring their own food, if they really are picky/restricted and want to be sure they eat.
                                                                                                                                                                                  I've seen people brink their own veggie and turkey burgers to throw on the grill.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Fine with me.
                                                                                                                                                                                  No tip required!

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                  If I'm cooking dinner for people, I try to accommodate different needs, but I feel like a crawfish boil might be one of those things that just is what it is; an event and a ritual unto itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                  So, if you're throwing a crawfish boil, you're not necessarily going to be able to accommodate vegans, in the same way that an invitation to go deep sea fishing doesn't accommodate people who get seasick.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                    There's a fine line between moderating and flame warrior

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not trying to moderate here -- that was just me responding as someone who is interested in this topic. When I post mod notes in threads, I do it as "The Chowhound Team", but I wouldn't mod this thread, because I've been participating in it quite a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                      ETA: If we were talking about someone who wasn't a member of her immediate family, I'd agree with you that whether the guest of honor would be okay with a partially hosted event should be part of the calculus.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                      It's virtually impossible to accommodate everyone, but giving an "either this or that" choice at least makes an effort.

                                                                                                                                                                                      But, you're right, boils are a bit of a different animal on some levels.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think this is spot on. It's a crawfish boil. That's what it is. Eat or don't eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm pretty sure I'd be horrified if someone I knew threw a surprise party for me and then asked the guests to pay.
                                                                                                                                                                                  I'd intervene and pick up the check, insisting on doing so.

                                                                                                                                                                                4. Maybe you should just include a link to this thread in your evite

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think the guests would only be alarmed if they thought that some of the posters would be attending.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Ugh. I usually avoid these kind of discussions because they go in forever and tend to get personal. But there is one solution that occurred to me that no one has yet mentioned. What if you picked one other main dish option from the restaurant's menu for those who won't eat crawfish? Anything. Chicken or whatever might possibly satisfy those few friends and allow them an option that you WILL pay for. Surely it can't be more expensive than the crawfish. Ask them to let you know in advance if they would prefer the alternate main dish so you can order it ahead of time. This just leaves you with the sticky problem of the beverages and that can be easily handled: "iced tea and soft drinks are included, and a cash bar is available for those who would like something more potent."

                                                                                                                                                                                      There. I've said it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's been said.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Not earth shattering.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Makes sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The OP appears set on her original format, however.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh ok. Guess I missed it in the replies. Makes sense to me but people will do what people will do,

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a shellfish allergy and if my friend invited me to a party where the only food served was something she knew I couldn't eat and she offered me no alternative entree, I would be upset. You can't bring your own food to a restaurant, unlike a party at someone's house. I would be the only one paying for my meal (in addition to bringing a gift for the b'day boy, since it is his b'day) while everyone else is eating free. That would not sit well with me. I'd have no problem with a cash bar, those are fairly common (weddings, etc.) But, not to provide food that your guests are able to eat is a pretty basic no no, IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thought the same as both, 15 yr old DD & I, have shellfish allergy.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you feel the same way about providing vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes. I recently organized a large dinner after an event in our town and we had gluten free, dairy free, veg and vegan, in addition to the set meal. We had to do that, otherwise some participants expressed to us that they would not want to attend. Every guest should feel welcomed and included.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here's how crawfish boils go down in Texas/Louisiana, OP being from Texas. We're having a crawfish boil, OP chose a restaurant do to logistics. You choose to come or not, knowing there will be no gluten free, dairy free, vegan, etc. It's BYOB, potatoes, corn, crawfish, that's it. I think the OP may be providing jambalaya after many "helpful" suggestions by many who have no idea what a crawfish boil is. Personally, I'd stick to just crawfish, my suggestion to Jojo34.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                      yeah, I think it's kind of like asking people in North Carolina to come to a pig picking'. Everyone knows what the food will be, and if they don't yet, they will ask someone. might be gluten free if you avoid the bread and the flour on some of the sides, but no vegan and the sides will all have pork. Watermelon is a nice side as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      At a Pig Pickin (and I have to use caps to avoid the spelling corrections, you still need to clarify the drinks situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also like a community Fish Fry or Chicken Pie supper at a church. The title of the event is the food that's offered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But since this is a private event, and Jojo knew some people she wanted to invite don't eat crawfish, or have shellfish allergies, I do think it is a gracious thing to offer an alternative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jojo, welcome to chow hound. let us know how it goes and come back!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Madrid

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pig Pickin should be caps. I'd love to go to one and the wifeacita would think she's in Hog Heaven. Trade you a Crawfish Boil for a Pig Pickin.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Dear invites.
                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm hosting a surprise party at .................... restaurant. There will be crawfish being served. Which I will pay for. Other entrees and drinks will not be included. You will pay for these yourself. See you there.


                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                  if you drop "Which I will pay for." and "You will pay for these yourself" and I'm almost with you (that part is implied in the explanation of what is served and what is excluded)

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Someone who is expected to pay is not a "guest."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. "Hello all! I'd like to invite you to join me for dinner. I'll be providing crawfish for everyone, and look forward to seeing all of you. Customized personal orders and beverages not included. I hope to see you there!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. As others have said, there really is no nice way to ask people to attend a party and then pay for themselves. I've been asked to do that a couple of times and it always offended me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd definitely say that there is a cash bar available as well as an a full a la carte restaurant menu at your own expense for those who don't enjoy crawfish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My feelings on this have already been shared by other members of the CH community who have responded to OP's inquiry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would, however, share some similar Q & As that have appeared on other sites:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "How Do We Tell Guests To Pay Their Own Way?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Q: My husband and I will be renewing our wedding vows for our 20th anniversary on the beach at sunset on Waikiki. We would like to go out to dinner after the renewal of our vows with our friends, but are not having a reception. Everyone will order off the menu and pay for their own dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The question is, how do you tell people that will be the case? I will
                                                                                                                                                                                                        probably hand-write invitations after we arrive on the island and set up the details. I'll need to include the dinner details in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                        invitation. Your help with wording would be appreciated. Thank you.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        A: It is hard for me to advise you on the proper etiquette for handling this issue in terms of wording the invitations since having guests pay their own way at an event such as this would not be considered socially correct in the first place. If a group of your
                                                                                                                                                                                                        friends were to invite you out to celebrate your anniversary, they
                                                                                                                                                                                                        would be expected to pay, not just for themselves, but for your
                                                                                                                                                                                                        portion as well. However, when you are inviting guests to celebrate
                                                                                                                                                                                                        your anniversary with you, typically the expectation is that you
                                                                                                                                                                                                        intend to host the celebration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm afraid that there is simply no wording suggestion I can offer for
                                                                                                                                                                                                        the invitations which will conform to the standards of proper
                                                                                                                                                                                                        etiquette or social correctness... to extend invitations to a
                                                                                                                                                                                                        celebration in honor of such an occasion, expecting guests to pay
                                                                                                                                                                                                        their own way, is not a practice which would be deemed 'socially

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Another similar scenario, Q & A for your consideration:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Q: "I am planning a surprise fortieth birthday party for my spouse at one of the fine restaurants in my city and I am preparing to send invitations to thirty people. My dilemma is that we are unable to provide dinner for the guests. However, I am providing the banquet room along with a wonderful cake, of course to share. How do I tactfully inform the potential guests that they must purchase their own food and drinks?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you for your help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dutch Treat Dilemma

                                                                                                                                                                                                          A: Dear Dutch,

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is no tactful way to inform guests that they are expected to pay for their own food and drink at a party you are professing to host. I have a hunch that you will surprise more people than just your spouse."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. And one more:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Washington Post: A Host of Concerns

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Q: "I want to give my husband a birthday breakfast at a banquet hall. I wanted to invite 50 to 75 people made up of family and other deacons and their wives. The breakfast costs approximately $13 per person. I can not afford to pay the total cost ($650-$975) for the breakfast but I perhaps could pay part of the cost... So, I was thinking of inviting the people to the birthday breakfast and putting the cost of the breakfast on the invitation (at full or partial cost) but also saying that a gift is not required as their presence would be the gift. Poor taste or acceptable? Some people might be offended but I think most
                                                                                                                                                                                                            would understand that I could not afford to pay for everyone's meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gentle Reader,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, yes, Miss Manners keeps hearing that so-called guests should be able to understand that they are not being invited to partake in hospitality, but are expected to purchase the opportunity to attend other people's personal social events.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            What she fails to hear is that so-called hosts might understand that if they cannot afford to entertain in a certain style, they must entertain in a style that they can afford."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: culinarynomad

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's more of a bill than an invitation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: culinarynomad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                none of those examples speak to the point. The OP is offering a complete event - Crawfish boil and soft drinks - no guests are required to spend a dime. If they choose to consume outside the event then they cannot assume she will foot the bill. A party need not be everything to everyone. It is very clear what is being provided - why demand more? She is entertaining in a style she can afford and has outlined exactly what that is. As long as this is communicated to guests it is on them to decide if they care to attend. Frankly who wants guests who are just in it for a free meal? Personally I would be thrilled to eat crawfish with a good friends/family members & celebrate a birthday even if I had to pay my way. A table of crawfish and sides provided by host, I am grateful. If you are only attending for free food/drinks and not company and celebration stay home you won't be missed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I could be wrong, but to add fuel to the fire I don't believe she is including non-alcoholic beverages. Crawfish and water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think I read that soft drinks are included.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They should be.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Alcohol is fine to pay cash for. No one has to provide that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I gotta say I'm pretty easy going about these sort of social outings. I'm not one who's offended by the birthday outing where everybody chips in, I don't think the host should always pay for everything but this seems rather odd. If I received this kind've invite I'd think it was strange. I understand not paying for drinks but covering some people's dinner and not others dinner just doesn't feel right. It's your party and you can do what you want but I think your guests who aren't having their dinner covered will feel strange and might be upset.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Especially when the OP states in her opening post that she KNOWS some guest DO NOT eat what she's offering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Come to the party, sorry, you're SOL on the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. If you don't like it don't go. If it's not a problem go. I would feel like a moocher even though I was a invite. I would slip the host some cash. And thank them for putting on the surprise party. Oh, I have to pay for my own self. Boo hoo. I was taught never come empty handed whether your a guest, invite, or whatever you want to call yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course a hostess gift is nice for someone hosting an event at home, and a present for the guest of honor/birthday boy or whatever is nice, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But as a host, you're expected to at least attempt to accommodate your guests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To KNOW that some people don't eat the one and only thing you're offering is something I simply wouldn't do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd at least offer one other thing. Something cheap, but something so that I know I've tried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. So you "know some people do not eat crawfish". I assume that is because they are friends. But you are inviting them to a party where they have to pay for their own drinks AND they get no food unless they pay for it. I would think you could find an alternate meal for those folks since they are your friends and you know they don't eat crawfish. Everybody paying for their own drinks -- no problem -- just say" cash bar."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Jojo, would the restaurant be willing to provide an same-priced alternative meal for the folks who don't eat crawfish (are there many of them?) I'm thinking if I hosted a clambake and I had guests who didn't eat seafood, the caterer could make sure they had sausage/hot dogs something else to eat included whole price. I'm not saying I'd pay for them to get grilled filet mignon, but ballpark cost. Could the restaurant do that? And maybe on the invitations to those you know don't eat crawfish, you could handwrite "Jen, I know you don't eat crawfish; we're having them cook up some hotdogs/burgers/sausage for you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. ****UPDATE*****UPDATE*****
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the input some good and some rude ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I called the restaurant and they are going to include tea/sodas in my price for the Crawfish/Potatoes/Corn. For those who do not eat it he said he can do Chicken/Sausage Jambalaya (waiting on a price for that) I asked him about boiled shrimp, but he said could be some allergies with that. With that being said if someone does not like those foods then they can at there own order something else. If this were a house party and someone came and did not like the food then they would either eat it or not eat at all. You can never please everyone. Our group of friends will be shocked they don't have to pay for the crawfish etc and only the bar tab. Afterwards we will do a pub crawl to different bars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Awesome. I hope everyone has a great time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I will ask guest which they prefer CF or Jambalaya.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That sounds great.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Restaurants usually really try to work with you and your budget to make your event possible.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This solution, for me, is covering the bases as best you can, and that's very hospitable and accommodating.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    some rude? you ask, you get peoples opinions. just because you don't like what you asked for doesn't make it rude.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bellachefa


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the responses were pretty darned restrained (and helpful and generous with thought and time given to the OP and her quandry), given the subject matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A simple "thank you" would have sufficed. But if it makes the OP feel better to lash out, well then...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hey Jojo, I hope you stick around Chowhound. It's interesting, it's informative, and people do play nice, even when they disagree---amazingly so compared to other places on the interweb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hope it's a great party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NOW just don't ask us if something is "safe to eat"...CH joke ;-P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            .....and the not about food board can be mildly contentious, at times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowyadoin99

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was trying to ease the OP into Chowhound and not scare her away. It's her first post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Too late, she's probably already learned what a cantankerous bunch we are. But lovable, at times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't venture over to the "special diets" board! It makes the NAF Board look downright friendly. o_O

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Haha. But what about my cheddar cheese I left out for an hour... is it safe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  what? the cheese you rolled around in ground peanut dust and left in your car trunk on a hot summer day and are using to send ham + cheese finger sandwiches to your kids' international school for a snack tomorrow?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  should be fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, not at all. Do you know how much bacteria can land on cheese in one hour?!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That sounds like a great solution. AS a calligrapher, I've done invitations for parties like this and it's not uncommon to include a menu, eg.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your choice of:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Crawfish with Potatoes and Corn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Boiled Shrimp or whatever the options might be

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            birthday cake

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sweet tea
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            post party pub crawl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That makes it clear what is included in the dinner. I don't think this is that different from a wedding. I've been to weddings that only serve wine and beer. No host has to make sure every option is available to every guest. Just print it all up on nice invitations w/ an enclosed card for menu. I'd recommend hiring a calligrapher to do it.;-) Just kidding. If you're concerned about cost, computers work fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is what I was going to send out:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ****SURPRISE PARTY FOR JEREMY****

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We're having a Crawfish Boil at Floyd's to celebrate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jeremy's 40th birthday, please join us!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The menu will include your choice of crawfish, potatoes and corn or chicken/sausage jambalaya, ice tea and soda.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A cash bar will be available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After peeling the mud bugs, join us in Sugar Land Town Square for a Pub Crawl until we literally crawl home!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              NOTE: Please RSVP by June 8th so I can give the restaurant a head count and please comment if you would like crawfish or Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              *Adults Only Please*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is awesome, and what a great party it will be.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jeremy's a lucky guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Please report back if you would?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  that's pretty good. others can debate the meaning of 'hospitality' until the cows forget to come home, but the major point of letting guests know exactly what to expect is the thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Please join us for a surprise party. We will be providing a menu of crawfish for your enjoyment. Alcoholic drinks not included.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If I read this I would not assume that if I wanted something else the host would pay for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. No you are not cheap. I do think that some drinks should be provided - like pitchers of beer and soda or lemonade. They can generally be provided at lowish costs (certainly less than top shell cocktails) and having no drinks seems awkward to me. How about something like this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "You are invited to a crayfish boil at ---- in honor of --- Crayfish and the usual sides, beer and soda will be provided. Additional items can be purchased through the restaurant - but crayfish is REALLY good."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This may not be the perfect wording but I hope it is a start. Remember to focus on you are hosting a crayfish boil and if some silly people don't like crayfish they should still come for the party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Simple, just word the invite to indicate that each individual is responsible for their drinks. As for the non crawdad folks, you may want to offer an alternative option and ask for a commitment in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. When you ask a guest to pay for meal/drinks, how can they possibly be defined as a guest?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Perhaps because you have invited them to a party and provided food (crawfish boil) and drinks (soft drinks).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'm really surprised by all the controversy over this, it doesn't seem that complicated to me. It sounds like a wonderful surprise for your husband and a nice night out for your friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe something like this?...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "We're having a crawfish boil to celebrate John's birthday, please join us if you can! The menu will include crawfish, potatoes, corn, jambalaya, iced tea and soft drinks. A cash bar will be available. Hope to see you there!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When provided with a set menu, guests shouldn't expect that they will be able to order anything else on your tab. To avoid any possible confusion you could have the manager let the waiters know that if anything else is ordered, when taking the order they should discretely/politely mention that they will bring the guest the check for only those items at the end of their meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I hope your husband has a wonderful birthday and you all enjoy the party!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Assume everyone loves crawfish. Then assume everyone is abstaining from "drinks' (assumption ; alcohol)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sounds like a plan. If they don't eat it is not your fault.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Give the establishment strict instructions, that this is the menu for the party...(Burger King is down the street where you can have it your way!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Here's my take on this. If you threw a party at home, as the host, it's part of your job to make sure all of your guests have something to eat. If you are inviting people who do not eat crawfish, you need to make alternate arrangements for them. It's not different that hosting a BBQ at your house and inviting some vegans -- as a host, it's still your duty to provide some food for them to eat while everyone else eats steaks or burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've put together a number of events for my company at restaurants and other venues (not to mention parties at home for family and friends). I normally let them know what the menu will be -- if it's buffet style, I try to make sure I have a couple things for everyone. For example, at a BBQ, I'd do burgers and BBQ chicken, so the non-red meat eaters have something. I'd do a heavy pasta salad and a couple other salads so the vegetarians can have pasta and sides. That sort of thing. For sit down meals, I either give the choice of 2-3 meals on the invite (i.e. Chicken, Fish, or Vegetarian Meal), or I say "Dinner Menu: Chicken Balsamic with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Please notify me if you require a Vegetarian entree instead. Thank you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If all of your guests ate crawfish, you'd be paying for all of them. At the least, you should offer an alternative meal for those non-crawfish eaters. That way, everyone is being treated equally. You prearrange the other entree with the restaurant so everyone gets the same option. Then have the waitstaff know that if anyone tries to order something off the menu, they should let the guest know that they will need to pay separately for that item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Crawfish Boil with all the sides and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. A vegetarian entree can be provided in lieu of the Crawfish Boil with advanced notice."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I like how your mind works.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Excellent, logical and rational.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Where I live, SE Texas, crawfish country, a crawfish boil is exactly as stated, a crawfish boil. There is no expectation of vegan or gluten free, etc. Host provides propane cookers, crawfish, potatoes, corn, maybe sausage and deals with a huge mess. It's outdoors/backyard super casual, BYOB. Maybe my orthopaedic surgeon has one by his pool with a selection of fine wines, craft beers, sides and salad. That's why I pay him big bucks that he deserves. Guests are invited to peel the invariable leftovers the next to take home. That's how it's done down here, with most folks, have no clue where the OP is from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I understand that. If you invite people over for a crawfish boil, they know to expect crawfish. But if you are inviting people for a surprise party to a restaurant, as the host of the party, it's your duty to make sure your guests are fed. I love sushi, but I wouldn't invite a bunch of non-sushi eaters for a party at a restaurant and then not have something for them to eat. I love durian, but I wouldn't serve durian for dessert without having something else for the people repulsed by it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Personally, I'm mixed on this particular party, as I wouldn't invite non-crawfish eating guests to a crawfish boil unless I had to, like if it were the guest of honor's dad or something. And then I would provide another option for a meal, because if you are choosing to serve something a lot of people don't eat, and expect them to show up, then as a good host, you have an alternative entree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If these guests are important in the OP's life, she will want them to be comfortable at her husband's party and feed them instead of leaving them to fend on their own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So it makes sense. It's a crawfish boil with just crawfish, but you're going the extra mile by offering an alternative. Then again, if the alternative is cost prohibitive, I completely understand. As I stated way up thread, crawfish runs 6-7 dollars a pound, and three pounds is average at minimum per person. I wouldn't let others from around the country dictate the local crawfish boil etiquette. Incoming, duck!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. How about:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Please come to my crawfish boil at Restaurant, a surprise party for our darling [surprise recipient]! On xx date! Don't tell surprise guest! Crawdads, soft drinks and traditional sides will be served to all party-goers. Cash bar. If you want something else to eat, you can order and pay at Restaurant, which has a full menu. I hope to see you there."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Teague

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would go with something like this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have an aversion to things like crawfish but it wouldn't phase me in the least. I'd still come!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My crowd loves seafood and I don't. I have gone to many get togethers with food I don't especially like and I don't expect special treatment. I go to have fun and hang out with friends. Food is secondary and I can always find something to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I might ask one of my comedic friends to tweak the evite a little bit and make it funny. A sense of humor about things like this can go a long way toward smoothing any potentially ruffled feathers. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I think that thingmaker expresses my own thoughts very eloquently:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "I have gone to many get togethers with food I don't especially like and I don't expect special treatment. I go to have fun and hang out with friends. Food is secondary and I can always find something to eat."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Really. Friends will attend for the company. The food will be secondary. Hopefully most of the people, for whom the OP will be paying for a crawfish boil, will actually partake.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hope the party is fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I do think, although it sounds like you've found a good solution, that you're getting some flak based on the wording of your title. You're not really asking guests to pay for meal/drinks at dinner. You're having a crawfish boil w/ nonalcoholic drinks provided. You're not expecting everyone to pay, just those who want special provisions (to which you're also adding more food which is nice).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. INVITATION UPDATE:::

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is what I was going to send out:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ****SURPRISE PARTY FOR JEREMY****

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We're having a Crawfish Boil at Floyd's to celebrate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jeremy's 40th birthday, please join us!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The menu will include your choice of crawfish, potatoes and corn or chicken/sausage jambalaya, ice tea and soda.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A cash bar will be available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        After peeling the mud bugs, join us in Sugar Land Town Square for a Pub Crawl until we literally crawl home!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        NOTE: Please RSVP by June 8th so I can give the restaurant a head count and please comment if you would like crawfish or Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        *Adults Only Please*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        28 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Love it. You were fine until the "Adults Only Please" part and now you've opened up a whole new Chowhound can of worms! Just kidding--it's just that threads about having children or not can be contentious here, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One thing I agree completely with Jojo on is the Adults Only inclusion! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL: Invitation to my husband's birthday pub crawl. ADULTS ONLY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            WTF? What do you have against kids???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (just yanking your chain…I think you've worded the invitation well!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL.. I have kids and love them but sometimes we need a little break and I don't think the pubs will be too happy to see kids come in...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow, I didn't know Floyd's opened in Sugarland. They have some mighty fine crawfish and it's the peak of the season. They ought to be big and fat, suck the heads and don't forget the big claws. There's a nice little piece of meat on them. I agree about the adults only, eating crawfish takes a lot of time and the kids could get a bit antsy. Now, if it was outdoors at a house, plenty of room for the kids to run around, a different situation. Floyds is a pretty nice place, I think you made the wise decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not to mention the ensuing pub crawl is probably not the greatest social situation for kids ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Jojo34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, I think you'll get a lot of support for "Adults Only"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On a side note- I can't believe how many times I've read here on CH about guests STILL bringing kids!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hope that doesn't happen to your shindig!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It really interrupts the dirty dancing that spontaneously breaks out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      or when Aunt Betty's 3rd husband is into well 'his cups' and decides it's time for his world-famous strip tease. leaving a few kids to ask "why is Uncle Joe acting funny?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you been to my family functions?;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LOL, oops, that's right. There was no Patrick Swayze involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lewd/dirty/sexy…all the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've never heard of children being traumatized for life at weddings where there's great dancing…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After a few drinks, we all THINK we're great dancers... That would traumatize my kids so I refrain.:-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So you've never experienced great dancers at a venue with children present?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where very little/to no alcohol is involved?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry if that's the case.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But I do agree with what you're describing…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Excessive, sloppy drinking with people who think they're awesome dancers tends to be inappropriate for children present, from my experience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Professional, experienced dancers who don't need liquor to enhance their dancing is another thing altogether.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <I think you mean 'lewd' dancing!>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Lewd" doesn't necessarily mean 'strip tease' or taking one's clothes off.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In that case I can't imagine children being welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Honestly, most of the people I invited who have young kids have made arrangements so they can enjoy the evening and drink and be silly. Most of us will probably cab it unless we stay at a hotel. It will be a fun evening...