Entertaining Ideas
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Parents' Anniversary Dinner

Hello!

I would like to organize a surprise gathering of friends and family to celebrate my parents' 25th wedding anniversary.

They just moved into a new house and have yet to comfortably settle in, and I live out of town, so I don't want to burden them with a surprise event at their own home. 

I would like to take them out to dinner and have everyone be at the restaurant as the surprise.  However, at 23 with a just-out-of-college job, I can't possibly afford to treat the entire group to dinner. 

The restaurant I chose is local (for them and everyone else), cozy, and prices range from $12 to $30 for an entree, so there's something for everyone. The restaurant has also agreed to offer drink specials for those in my reservation.

I am trying to word the invitation in a way to indicate this is my plan. Basically, I will pay for myself and my parents, provide dessert for the group, and hope those I invite will join us for dinner, have fun, enjoy dessert, and not be surprised or offended when the waitress brings them their bill (just as if they were out to dinner on any other occasion).

This is what I have written up:

------------------- 

In celebration of the 25th wedding anniversary of my wonderful parents

(Names)

please join us in a surprise gathering of their closest friends and family.

(Date, Time, Location)

Dessert will be provided for all. 

------------------

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thank you! 

Re: Parents' Anniversary Dinner

  • I can totally understand wanting to celebrate their anniversary. However, I don't think there is any way around sending an invitation to potential guests and then expecting them to pay. Your invitation attempts to do this, but to me it would sound like you are inviting people to just have dessert, not that they are paying for the meal and you are providing dessert.

    I was an only child when I planned my parent's 25th anniversary party. I still lived at home, however, and was able to manage the cost of a small party.

    I only see a few options around this issue for you:

    1) Ask if any relatives or friends will allow you to "host" a party at their home. It doesn't have to be fancy, it can be simply a small wedding-looking cake, with coffee, tea and soft drinks

    2) Make your invitations by phone or email, not in a formal manner. This will allow you to discuss the limitations you have as a young college grad, can't offer to host a meal, but you'd like to invite them, however, dinner is on them. Something like this:

    "Hi Aunt Mary, as you know my parent's 25th anniversary is coming up. I want to plan a surprise party for them, but due to my finances I can't cover the expenses. I still want to acknowledge it, so I made arrangements at a restaurant for some specially priced items. Do you think you could come?".

    3) Simply host a dessert reception at the restaurant. Your invitation will indicate the party is dessert and coffee. Discuss how this works with the restaurant, and if anyone orders an alcoholic beverage or something like that, the server informs the guest that the "party" only includes the dessert and coffee/tea/soda.

    Of the above, I think the first option is the one you should shoot for.

     

  • image Sue-n-Kevin:

    I can totally understand wanting to celebrate their anniversary. However, I don't think there is any way around sending an invitation to potential guests and then expecting them to pay. Your invitation attempts to do this, but to me it would sound like you are inviting people to just have dessert, not that they are paying for the meal and you are providing dessert.

    I was an only child when I planned my parent's 25th anniversary party. I still lived at home, however, and was able to manage the cost of a small party.

    I only see a few options around this issue for you:

    1) Ask if any relatives or friends will allow you to "host" a party at their home. It doesn't have to be fancy, it can be simply a small wedding-looking cake, with coffee, tea and soft drinks

    2) Make your invitations by phone or email, not in a formal manner. This will allow you to discuss the limitations you have as a young college grad, can't offer to host a meal, but you'd like to invite them, however, dinner is on them. Something like this:

    "Hi Aunt Mary, as you know my parent's 25th anniversary is coming up. I want to plan a surprise party for them, but due to my finances I can't cover the expenses. I still want to acknowledge it, so I made arrangements at a restaurant for some specially priced items. Do you think you could come?".

    3) Simply host a dessert reception at the restaurant. Your invitation will indicate the party is dessert and coffee. Discuss how this works with the restaurant, and if anyone orders an alcoholic beverage or something like that, the server informs the guest that the "party" only includes the dessert and coffee/tea/soda.

    Of the above, I think the first option is the one you should shoot for.

     

    Thank you for the response. I spoke with a couple of adults in my family and they were surprised I was so concerned about this, as they thought it was a great idea to gather everyone to celebrate and they wouldn't expect any one person to pick up the tab at a restaurant. I guess I just got insecure after reading responses like yours to other people looking for wording suggestions. 

    I would never want to invite family and friends on the prefix of "due to my finances..this and that." It's not about the money, it's about getting together. To say "and then expecting them to pay" sounds like I'm charging them at the door or asking for handouts. People are used to paying for their meal at a restaurant. Now that I've debunked this "taboo" topic with my own family I can rest assured I won't be offending anyone. And as a designer, receiving an actual invitation in the mail from me is normal.

  • I think you might have some guests that come and will be like "What I have to pay?!" not matter how you word it. An invite usually means "free" so I would probably go with something cheaper.

    Host it at the park and have a picnic. Do something at your place like drinks and appetizers. 

    Get creative, people understand your young and on a budget, but they will not understand why they have to pay for a $30 meal when they were given an invite... 

  • Lots of people find themselves in this situation for their parents' 25th -- the timing often works out that kids are just out of college.

    I think your idea is just fine. People can get crazy with the etiquette of hosting & paying, but when it's you and your aunts and uncles paying for a party for your parents, and assuming you all get along, you can put your Emily Post aside. My sister and I were both in grad school for my parents' 25th, and we got together with my aunt (who was my parents' maid of honor) and we did something at her house. I have no doubt that if sis and I decided to do a restaurant thing, the guests would have pitched in as well.

     It's a different story for the 50th -- by then most folks are together enough to throw something, but the 25th? The guests are probably the ones who threw your mom a shower before you were born! You're a kid to them! If it's at all like my family, they don't think of you as anyone who should be expected to shoulder an expensive restaurant party yet.

     That said, don't sandbag everyone by choosing a crazy expensive place for dinner. Talk it over with your older relatives and find a good solution. You're a good daughter!

  • Interesting information! Anniversaries are important and can be a cause of joy. Those who have overlooked an anniversary or birthday of a loved one know how hard it is to gain forgiveness. This year, compensate for all lost years by buying your spouse a great gift. You can get a pay day loan and buy the thing he or she has been waiting for. Make sure you do it right this year to stay away from more embarrassment.
  • I think it's rude to invite people to a restaurant for a party and not pay.  It's like inviting people to a wedding and then asking them to pay for their meal.  If you can't afford to pay for everyone, do something you can afford.

    I'd suggest rethinking your plan.  
  • Lots of people find themselves in this situation for their parents' 25th -- the timing often works out that kids are just out of college.

    I think your idea is just fine. People can get crazy with the etiquette of hosting & paying, but when it's you and your aunts and uncles paying for a party for your parents, and assuming you all get along, you can put your Emily Post aside. My sister and I were both in grad school for my parents' 25th, and we got together with my aunt (who was my parents' maid of honor) and we did something at her house. I have no doubt that if sis and I decided to do a restaurant thing, the guests would have pitched in as well.

     It's a different story for the 50th -- by then most folks are together enough to throw something, but the 25th? The guests are probably the ones who threw your mom a shower before you were born! You're a kid to them! If it's at all like my family, they don't think of you as anyone who should be expected to shoulder an expensive restaurant party yet.

     That said, don't sandbag everyone by choosing a crazy expensive place for dinner. Talk it over with your older relatives and find a good solution. You're a good daughter!

    Ok, but you ended up doing the polite thing.  You invited guests to your aunt's, who had offered, house.  You did NOT expect the guests to pay.  There is never a reason to be rude and you should always do what you can afford to pay.
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