Money Manners: The LearnVest Guide To Attending Parties

Money Manners: The LearnVest Guide To Attending Parties

We’ve all been there: We’re excited to go to a friend’s party, but we’re not totally clear on our gift-giving obligations. Whether the party is to celebrate a birthday, the end of being a bachelorette, holidays, or anything else, it’s often hard to pin down exactly what to give, to whom, and how it varies based on our relationship with the host.

Here’s what you need to know, and how it affects your pockets:

Is It Okay To Invite A Plus-One?

Whether you’re looking to invite a significant other or a friend, make sure that the hostess doesn’t feel like you’re stepping on her toes. If the party is huge and being held in a public place, you’re probably fine, but ask before inviting someone to a more intimate gathering. If the party will be held in someone’s home, always ask first. If the hostess hesitates after you ask, take that as a no.

What To Do When You’re A Tagalong

Your friend’s friend is having a birthday party at a bar, but you don’t know Miss Thing personally. Do you still have to bring a gift? Every situation will vary by setting, relationship to the host, and the general vibe, but we’ve created broad guidelines to give you a sense of what’s best:


When The Party Is At A Bar, The Rules Are More Nuanced

If you’re close friends, then you should give a gift regardless of setting. But, the bar is set lower for parties at bars (forgive our pun). After all, the host isn’t providing drinks or food, and you could have been there on your own, anyway. If you’re invited to a catered party or an open bar, then the same rules apply as at a party in someone’s home.

What If It’s An Expensive Restaurant And I Can’t Afford To Chip In?

So, the girls brunch to celebrate the engagement will cost $80 at a fancy restaurant, plus everyone is planning to pay for the newly-engaged honoree (who chose the place to begin with). You don’t have many options. If you attend, you have no choice but to pay. If that’s simply too much for you, there’s nothing wrong with declining the invitation. If this is a coworker or friend, just say that, unfortunately, you have preexisting plans. If this is a best friend or family member, then speak honestly about the reasons you can’t go. Your goal is not to guilt her into paying for your meal. Instead, your mission is to explain that your refusal is not personal, that you love her deeply, and will support her always, regardless of your brunch status.

Moreover, let this be a lesson when your turn comes around: Whether or not money is a big issue for you, always consider all of your guests’ financial situations before making broad decisions about special events.


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