Should guests be expected to pay to attend birthday parties, baby showers and other celebrations?


You’re invited to a birthday party and show up with a gift, but then you’re expected to pay for your own food! Has this ever happened to you?

One woman is so fed up that she’s started a social media protest about this very issue!

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Should guests be expected to pay? 

The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary recently wrote a column called “Stop charging me to attend your celebrations — #guestsdontpay.”

In the opinion piece, Singletary said she’s done paying to attend parties that she’s invited to:

“If it isn’t clear whether I’ll be charged, I ask. If I have to pay, I don’t go. I’ll offer congratulations and perhaps send a card or gift later. But I will not be a party to this etiquette breach.”

Singletary said that she’s often shown up at an event — like a birthday party, bridal shower or retirement celebration — and told she had to pay for her meal and chip in for the guest of honor.

“What happened to being just a guest, not a paying guest?” Singletary wrote in the paper.

Her #guestsdontpay protest is sparking quite a debate. Some people disagree with her and say they always expect to pay when invited to a party at a bar or restaurant. reached out to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, for her take:

“Guests don’t want to feel as if they are being charged to attend an event they have been invited to. The protocol, when inviting someone to a function, is the host generally invites, covers the cost of the meal and also the gratuity. Whether it’s a small dinner party, an evening meal or a large event, it is most polite for the host to cover the cost unless it has been discussed in advance.”

Gottsman adds that at a friend’s birthday party, it’s a custom for the friends to pick up the cost of the birthday person’s meal. But if the birthday girl or guy throws the party, they’re the host and should cover the costs. The attendees would bring a gift.


“Unless the guests have prior knowledge, there should be no surprises. As for the guest, if they are uncomfortable attending for whatever reason, they should politely decline. No in-depth explanation is necessary,” Gottsman said.

We want to know what you think: Should guests be expected to pay to attend birthday parties, baby showers and other celebrations?

Take our Twitter poll and sound off in the comments section below!

RELATED: Collect $578 in free food on your birthday!

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