Social Question

hTownDude's avatar

When you have a big party, do you make your guests pay? If so, how do you ask them to "make a contribution" without looking tacky?

Asked by hTownDude (178 points ) November 13th, 2009

Just curious. Thanks.

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21 Answers

wilma's avatar

umm… guests paying when you have a party?
I have never heard of that. Is this something new?

ubersiren's avatar

What kind of party? You could ask each guest to bring what booze they want or bring a covered dish. That’s probably more tactful than charging admission. If you can’t afford to pay for a party, maybe you should wait until you can. That’s like saying, “Who wants to go to Pizza Hut?!” Then asking if everyone can pay your tab.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Asking for contributions is tacky if you spring it at the party. There’s no way around that unless you specify upfront that there is a cover charge.
If you’re concerned about the cost of a keg, you could always forgo that in favor of a “bring your own booze” party.

Allie's avatar

Letting people know that contributions are welcome and accepted might do the trick. I’m guessing that after hearing that, people would get the hint leave something on their way out.
Technically, this isn’t asking. They’ll probably still form an opinion about this behavior in their minds though.

marinelife's avatar

You can’t, because it is totally tacky. It is really not acceptable. If you cannot afford to entertain, you should not.

About the only way you can do this acceptably is to ask guests if they would like to attend a potluck or you can ask guests to BYOB, but then you provide the snacks or food.

Darwin's avatar

If I can’t afford to pay for a big party, I don’t throw one. However, if I want to get a big group of friends together I might provide the main dish but make the rest potluck, a chance for them to share their favorite recipes with the rest. I would make it clear on the invitation, though, so people can choose not to attend.

wilma's avatar

If you say I’m hosting a “pot luck” or cookie exchange or some other kind of mutually supportive party that is different. Or if you don’t wish to serve alcohol you could say BYOB, and then you supply non-alcoholic drinks, but to ask guests to pay is…. yes tacky.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Absolutely not. A party is about hosting guests. Hosting being the key word.

I think @Darwin has a great point. Do what you can afford or make it clear beforehand that it will be a group contribution (i.e. potluck).

Siren's avatar

I agree with all the above comments: it’s tacky.

I’ve heard of real stories where people from all occasions (even weddings!) try to get the partygoers to pay who are attending. Potlucks or warning everyone in advance they will have to contribute is at least fair warning, but having a cover charge is very tacky. It’s almost like a restaurant. In which case, if we don’t like the food, can we get a refund?

I had a friend who went one step beyond that and held a “crafts party” a few weeks before Halloween. When I arrived, I found out that the crafts were actually us making her Halloween decorations, nothing we could take home.

She even asked me once for my opinion about having a “gardening party”. I innocently enquired if we would each be exchanging plants and seeds, etc., but was floored when she told me it was to clean up her backyard! I guess we were all pitching in without realizing it….free labor

Dr_C's avatar

If it is a party for your friends and family.. coworkers or the like then there’s no way you can (in polite society) ask for contributions and not come off looking either cheap, or just tacky.

However if the idea is to just have a huge party then there is an alternative. A flyer party. Get someone you know that has a band to play… get a booze connection… and print up flyers and post them around college campuses near you. 5 Bucks at the door and you give away 2 free beers (buy kegs.. last longer and easier to pour). the rest of the night… dollar beer. Not only will you have a huge party.. you might even make some money off the whole thing.

galileogirl's avatar

BYOB is tacky. Unless it’s something like a fundraiser for a charitable event, nobody pays cash. Even a potluck is only for family or close friends. If you can’t afford a big sit-down dinner, have a small picnic. The real purpose for a get together is the getting together, not trying to appear something you’re not.

drdoombot's avatar

Amongst Central Asian Jews, there is an unspoken understanding that if you attend someone’s party (almost always thrown in a large catered hall or restaurant), you must bring a cash gift in an envelope. This is true for bar mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, etc.

I think this is a tradition from the old country to help ease the cost of having a celebration; if guests didn’t bring cash gifts, many people wouldn’t be able to afford parties. If anything, it’s considered tacky and rude not to bring a cash gift.

This practice is so ubiquitous in my community that I couldn’t imagine how you would ask people to contribute.

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

@Dr_C i agree, i have thrown tons of huge party’s with lot’s of entertainment, and they PAID! On the other hand if it is a casual party or get togther and there is not a lot of entertainment involved then id say no..

I noticed you said big party though which is border line “event” so i am assuming you will have entertainment so do flyers and promote and charge people!

Adagio's avatar

When I celebrated my 40th birthday I decided to gather my friends together at a cafe/restaurant. It was understood that, apart from champagne to toast the birthday gal, everybody would pay for for their own meal and wine the cafe was licensed but also offered a BYO option. I guess everybody knew there was no way I could afford to pay for everybody present. It was a fantastic evening enjoyed by everyone. In this type of situation, where the event is held at a restaurant/cafe, I do not consider it in the least bit tacky to ask people beforehand to pay for themselves it is their choice to accept the invitation or not. However if the event is held in your home, I feel that the only way you could expect/ask people to contribute would be by making it a pot luck and BYO occasion.
it may or may not be worth noting that I live in New Zealand, not the US

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You have the type and size of social gathering that you can afford. If you make them pay, they’re not your guests, they’re your customers.

Reading the tags of your question, understand that if you’re promoting underage drinking, you could be legally liable for accidents that happen on the way home. Throwing a blow-out and charging people you don’t know for providing alcohol is a great way to end up in legal trouble.

Haleth's avatar

It sounds from your question like you’re having a big blowout party. I had a lot of parties like this in college, or been to them. You don’t have to worry about tackyness so much if it’s this kind of thing, like a house party. Usually no matter who’s house we had the party at, we all chipped in together to plan. Everyone brought some kind of food or put in some money for a liquor store run. It’s a lot easier if there’s a group consensus that everyone wants to have this party, than if the party was just your idea. Then it’s more understood that you’re hosting, and paying for the party is more your responsibility.
A potluck is a great idea if you’re having a fancier party. You could also have a potluck-style wine tasting or beer tasting, as long as you still supply a bottle or two so there will be enough to go around.
If you’re having a big blowout party with lots of random people, you should do what @Dr_C said, have entertainment, post flyers, and charge people. The only thing is that the person collecting the money has to be dependable. If you decide to be this person, you won’t have as much time to enjoy your own party.

augustlan's avatar

Keg parties are usually the exception to the “don’t ask people to pay” rule. In my area at least, it was perfectly acceptable to charge a flat fee to get in to a keg party.

jca's avatar

i think to ask people to pay would be horrendous unless it was some big event, like the others mentioned. in my experience, if i am having a party (or anybody i know is having a party) the guests will usually bring a bottle of wine or a dessert (homemade or bakery) or an appetizer or something. it’s optional but i think to show up empty handed would be rude too. sometimes the guest brings something for the house, like “guest soaps” or flowers. it’s not something the host can specifically ask for, though.

but i think if you said to people “i’m having a party on Saturday and I’ll need $10 from you if you want to come” it would be tacky.

filmfann's avatar

If they pay, they aren’t “Guests”.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

This has been coming up more and more often. And it’s an etiquette nightmare. If you’re throwing a party it should be within your means. If you expect gifts or money it should only be for a birthday or a housewarming party and those gifts or money should be given willfully, they should not be requested.

Jillysback's avatar

Put on the invitation in small print at the bottom
“Donations to help cover hall rental will be gratefully accepted, although not required”
Then make a nicely decorated box with a slot in the top marked “donations for hall rental” and place it somewhere obvious…like on the bar.

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