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Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Invite Wording - 35th Birthday at nice steak house


My 35th birthday is coming up in July.  I want to go to a nice steak house and invite some of my friends.  However, I cannot afford to pay for any of them.  I was thinking of using the wording come join me in celebrating instead of you are invited.  In addition, in small print I was going to put that this was a dutch and no presents are needed just your company is wanted.  I do not want them to get gifts and pay for dinner.  I also want to make sure that it is clear they will be paying their own way without sounding too rude.  After, reading some questions and answers, the consensus is that doing this is very rude, but how can I create an invite to give to those who I want to come and not come across as a mean, rude woman.  Almost at the point of just going by myself so I don not have to be rude to anyone.  Please help.  Thank you.

Dear Jessica:
I wish I could help you with a way to word an invitation like this but however you might want company for your birthday dinner, you would be really rude to invite others to spend their money to be with you.  Why don't you invite one other special person to eat with you - your expense.  Then if you want to have an inexpensive party to celebrate your birthday, have a dessert and coffee or pot luck at your home?  You provide the major food and suggest (not ask or expect) others to bring their favorite dessert to share for the pot luck.  For the dessert and coffee, you would be hosting so you would be paying.

It will never be alright to invite someone to join you for anything at their own expense.  The rule still stands that the host pays, the guests do not.

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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