≡ Menu

Prioritizing Creative Talents Over People

I know that charging cash for the “honor” of attending a party that you’re throwing is in bad taste, but what about if the “admission fee” isn’t money? A friend of mine, B, who is a good friend of my husband, is turning 40 soon. She is single, and she is by far the most extroverted of all of my friends, so she wanted to throw a big, fun bash for herself and invite all her friends. So far, I see nothing wrong with that. However, she’s requiring that all the guests collaborate and “create something” for the party. Her suggestions included a music video, a song, a game, a dance, or a puzzle. Seriously, it takes hours to do any of those things well. I know her through puzzles, and I’ve written some myself for puzzle events, and it takes me at least hours and better yet days to have a good idea, refine it, test it, and lay it out in a visually appealing way. I approached her earlier saying that I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to make a good puzzle for her and would therefore have to skip the party, and she said something along the lines of, “Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you, then.”

So, I guess I’m not going to the party. (My husband will be, though- he’s creating something.) Is requiring your guests to “create something” like this even polite? It seems to me that you’re just creating a lot of stress for your guests beforehand, and personally I would never want to do that for any party I was hosting. Thanks for your input. 0726-13

For heaven’s sake, guests are not trained pets required to perform on command.   Your instincts are correct that while the price of admission to an event that honors her is not money, it is still something that requires time to create.  When one exerts time and sweat equity, it is usually traded for money…that is how people earn money.    A lot of people have no concept of “time budgets” or “labor budgets”, i.e. that the time they expect people to volunteer for them comes at a price.    Time is not free.    What B is expecting is that people give her the gift of time and labor as tribute to her milestone birthday.

And while you intuitively know something is amiss with her attitude, you can’t quite put a finger on it.   What B has done is elevate the receipt of other’s creative talents to be of greater priority than having people there that at all.   Her dismissive response to your RSVP said it all.   Do you really want to be friends with someone who values gifts above people?

If I were you, I would ignore the demand for creative “gifts” and go anyway.    I don’t facilitate petty, self indulgent behavior and I seriously doubt you’ll get frisked at the door or escorted to leave.  Point to your husband and say, “I’m with him.”

To reiterate the Ehell position on self hosted birthdays,   only acceptable if birthday person hosts graciously providing all the food and entertainment and *GIVES* gifts to guests.   Anything else is pure greed, self aggrandizement and ego stroking.

{ 85 comments… add one }
  • Kirsten July 29, 2013, 8:33 am

    I had a similar thing with a friend once, when I asked what she’d like for a wedding present. I am a published novelist and she asked for a book with her as the heroine! They take me months and there’s no way I could writeromance about one of my friends because I don’t have that creativity to get over the embarrassment. Plus at the time I wasn’t writing at all because I was working 90 hours a week with a massive family financial trauma going on. When I explained, she wasn’t thrilled with me AT ALL. I wasn’t invited to her wedding anyway (she married abroad), and because she was so moody afterwards, she wouldn’t give me an alternative so I got her nothing.

    I am very surprised your husband is going after her response to you!

    Where I live it is ok to throw your own birthday party. You host and nobody gives you a present except the present of their company and time. It works pretty well.

  • carol July 29, 2013, 8:54 am

    The only way I could see that ‘bring something created’ idea working at all is if someone else was hosting the event, and asked the people coming if they would be willing to do that. My sister had bridal showers for some of her friends, and asked those would would be willing to contribute a square for a quilt. And she sent them all the supplies. And didn’t tell them they couldn’t come if they DIDN’T do something. That makes sense. What she was doing…doesn’t.

    That being said, this just seems…odd. Are you supposed to make word puzzles for everyone to do at the party? What are the music videos for and about? Are you supposed to be lauding her in the videos?

    I see nothing wrong with thowing yourself a party, but being the one to say ‘honour me THIS way, is strange.

  • Ginger G July 29, 2013, 9:06 am

    Wow, that is really rude. She sounds like a really self-centered person. I would certainly decline the ”honor” of attending this party also.

    We actually have a friend that likes to do something similiar for his birthdays. Every year, he sends out invitations in poetry form and encourages invitees to tell a story or write a poem or a song to perform at the party. I’ve always found it to be somewhat self-centered since the poems, songs, etc are supposed to be about him, but he’s such a good guy and a wonderful friend otherwise, that I don’t get too bent out of shape about it. However, a performance is certainly not required for party admittance! If it were I would not be able to attend either, since that is not my thing. It’s actually a quite enjoyable party and the performances are generally entertaining, my siginificant other is usually quite a big hit with whatever he does, but there’s no way I would go if there was a demand for my time and effort like that.

  • Wild Irish Rose July 29, 2013, 9:19 am

    Some people see the world as one giant mirror. B sounds like one of those people. I have a good friend who hosts her own birthday parties and has for years, and I’ve attended a couple of them, but no one has ever been required to bring anything at all! The closest thing I’ve ever seen to anything like this is for milestone anniversaries and retirements, when guests were asked to contribute a short message or a picture for a scrapbook to give to the honoree(s). I don’t have a problem with that. But to “disinvite” someone for not being willing or able to make a puzzle? What do you see in this woman, anyway?

    I’m with Admin. If your husband goes, you go with him. Or, he sends his regrets and you both stay home. B can get over herself.

  • Cat July 29, 2013, 9:20 am

    I think I would give her a mirror. She seems most interested in herself and that will reflect who she truly values. It certainly isn’t her friends if her reply to you was, ” I guess we won’t be seeing you then.” Let her see the one she loves.

  • twik July 29, 2013, 9:23 am

    The worst of this is that she’s demanding hours of work from her guests *to honour herself*. This is not “extroverted,” this is “egocentric”.

    And to tell someone who isn’t willing to commit that “we won’t be seeing you,” is a slap in the face. I’d write this friend off permanently, unless she suddenly realizes she’s been swept away by an emotional reaction to turning 40, and apologizes humbly.

  • Jinx July 29, 2013, 9:35 am

    As a grad student, I have been very sensitive to people who think nothing out of demanding large amounts of my time. Some people don’t think of others. For me, it’s been lucky that I can take someone aside and say that I’m a student and I have X,Y and Z to do and if I’m not doing those, I have exams to study for and research to do (Or, in other words, I simply can’t accommodate your request).

    Never looking for sympathy when I lay out my to do list. I only do it to illustrate how precious my time is. I’d like to believe your friend is just not thinking. It’s not a great excuse, but it means she could be shown the light (as opposed to someone who just does not care about anyone else whatsoever).

    I actually make music videos myself (parodies) and while I do enjoy making them, they take a ton of time. Changing lyrics, set work, costumes, actors, shooting and editing. It take a ton of time because I do everything but the actual filming. There have been people who ask when I’m putting another video out, and I have to explain exactly how much time it takes to do a video. Even though I do like making them, if I were forced to complete one by a certain time, on top of my other duties, I would not enjoy the process. It would be extremely stressful, and I would probably have to give up other things I enjoy doing, like showering and sleeping.

    I don’t know if you’d have success talking to your friend. Can you say, I love you, and I love making things, but it takes my X hours to make a puzzle, and I have ____ to do and simply can’t create one my your birthday.

    If she then understands, but doesn’t care… do you still want to go to her party?

    If yes… can’t your husband’s gift be a joint gift? If not, and you simply must go, make a word search. Those take like 10 minutes to make. Put it in a frame and call it a day. Sure, it wouldn’t necessarily be quality, but if you have to go, and she doesn’t care about you and your time, that’s not the issue.

  • Kim July 29, 2013, 9:36 am

    Quite full of herself isn’t she?

  • Tracy July 29, 2013, 9:58 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be disappointed in my husband for planning to attend this party after I had basically been uninvited.

  • Mae July 29, 2013, 10:00 am

    Oh, my. The demand for “creative presents” is pretty rude and all of her suggestions seem labor & cost intensive. The dismissive way that she responded to your RSVP was even more rude. I would not go.

    Just curious OP, why would your husband create a present and attend at the party of someone who was so dismissive and rude to you? All you did was say you did not think you had to time to make a good puzzle and may have to skip the party. Did you hope that your friendship would be enough for her to say “oh, that’s ok, just come anyway?” That is what I would think a good friend would do but this lady seems to self-centered to be a good friend.

  • Yet Another Laura July 29, 2013, 10:08 am

    Your “friend” B does not sound like a friend. She crossed the line when she told responded with “Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you, then”.

    As for throwing parties, I have no problem with throwing your own birthday party as long as you’re not demanding gifts. Presence, not presents. My friends and I usually treat it as an excuse to get a large group together and go out. One friend throws an annual potluck and these parties are a blast.

    As for throwing your own party and dictating the manner of gifts? And then demanding a gift that takes a lot of time and effort? Even if this was a party hosted by someone else, I’d be leery.

  • Lo July 29, 2013, 10:24 am

    “I approached her earlier saying that I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to make a good puzzle for her and would therefore have to skip the party, and she said something along the lines of, ‘Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you, then.'”

    Translation: “I don’t really care about having a good time with my friends. I care about getting what I want from them.”

  • Library Diva July 29, 2013, 10:29 am

    This is more along the lines of an art happening than a birthday party. If you were part of a community of artists, it would be one thing, as it provides the guests a chance to show off and to benefit from each other’s work. But the way this woman is going about it is messed up. “Requiring” it is a bit much, too. By changing the wording slightly: “guests are ENCOURAGED TO create something for the party,” she could have had the fun, unique event that she’s striving for without insulting anyone.

    BTW, admin, nice to have you back and posting. I missed the E-hell posts last week!

  • June First July 29, 2013, 10:30 am

    I agree with the other comments here:
    It would be different if she asked everyone to simply bring a copy of their favorite recipe, for example.
    And I also would be tempted to give her a mirror.

    I wonder if there’s more to the story with OP’s husband. Why is he ok creating something? Is it more of a “Well, just get it over with” mentality?

  • Ashley July 29, 2013, 10:33 am

    And your husband still wants to deal with this woman after she said that to you? Yikes…

  • Calli Arcale July 29, 2013, 10:38 am

    Wow! I think it’s cool to have parties where guests are asked to do something creative, but generally *at* the party, and as a way of having fun together, not as a way of honoring the guest of honor, especially when she’s self-hosting! I would definitely not go, and I’d seriously reconsider any further friendship with this person, if she cares so little about my company that she’d eject me from her birthday party for not providing an adequate sacrifice to honor her. Seriously, that is “wow” on a lot of levels.

  • Angel July 29, 2013, 10:42 am

    If I were the OP I would be more angry with my husband for agreeing to go to this “party” than at the birthday girl. She sounds like a real piece of work. But the husband needs to stand up for himself and say after the way you treated my wife I’m not coming.

    After all this drama it better be one helluva party!!

  • Compelled to Respond July 29, 2013, 10:44 am

    This sounds extremely selfish and unthinking.

    I have a friend you has a huge birthday bash every few years. She requests that people not bring her a present, but instead bring items to be donated to one of the local food banks or homeless shelters. Everyone loves this idea and she usually ends up with a car load of items to take. I can relate to this and it isn’t treated as the price of admission to her party. If you don’t bring something, you are still welcomed.

  • Tanya July 29, 2013, 10:49 am

    Is there any chance that when the OP told her friend she had no time to make something and would have to skip the party, the friend interpreted that as the OP saying she had no time to attend and wouldn’t be able to make it? Or thought that the OP didn’t really want to attend and was using the “no time” thing as an excuse? Because that’s the only way I can see the friend’s response of “I guess I won’t be seeing you, then” as not being rude. But I can definitely see someone just hearing the “I’ll have to skip your party” part, disregarding the rest, and just responding that they’ll see the OP later.

    Still, that’s just me trying to give the friend the extreme benefit of the doubt. Sounds like she’s a little self-absorbed…

  • jojo July 29, 2013, 11:30 am

    I’m a bit confused, could the friend have been a bit flippant? It did sound like the OP approached her and said that she couldn’t make anything so wouldn’t be attending.
    Depending on the situation and the context of the approach, if someone said they didn’t have time to make something for my party so would be skipping the party, I might take it as a hint that they didn’t actually want to come. Maybe she was a bit hurt and responded defensively?
    Although, generally, I would be thrilled that someone turned up to my party, if they brought a gift they’d thoughtfully slaved over for hours then it would be the icing on the cake!
    My new trick is to create a word cloud online of all the things about this person, featuring the longitude and latitude of a place that is special to them (a quick google will give you the details), print it off and frame it. It takes about 10 minutes of my time, costs very little ( especially if you’ve got a spare picture frame), is totally personal and gives the giftee a reminder of things that are special to them and about them. So far, they’ve gone down brilliantly, particularly as new baby gifts.
    Maybe instead of spending all that time and energy on doing something that will take hours, do something that will take a few minutes, put on a smile and go along with your husband and have a brilliant night. She’s single and 40, it’s a tough time in a woman’s life – just ask my sister-in-law who is single and 39 and has completely lost the plot! I’m working very hard at finding a way to forgive her for yelling at my husband over her bruised ego on our wedding day this year rather than congratulating us. Fortunately no one else witnessed her childish strop, or she’d never have lived it down.

  • Abby July 29, 2013, 11:38 am

    Wow, I think that is even worse than charging admission, and charging admission is pretty bad. I wonder what the birthday girl will do if some brave soul goes to the party without a creation in hand?

    Agree with the others that are appalled not only by the ridiculous demand, but also that OP’s husband is still planning on coming with the requisite “gift”.

  • hakayama July 29, 2013, 12:09 pm

    Congratulations on knowing where you stand with the “friend”.
    Condolences on NOT knowing where you stand with your husband.
    Best wishes.

  • Elle July 29, 2013, 12:58 pm

    Okay, I’m going to play a leeeeetle bit of devil’s advocate – not for the sake of being contrarian, but because I see a chance that at least one miscommunication might be gumming up the works. This is the part that caught my eye:

    ” I approached her earlier saying that I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to make a good puzzle for her and would therefore have to skip the party, and she said something along the lines of, “Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you, then.””

    When the OP said she would have to skip the party because she couldn’t make something up she was using a method of communication called “hint and hope.” (I am making the assumption that what the OP said was pretty much exactly as it was presented here). She was fishing to be told “oh that’s totally not necessary, come at five.” It’s not rude at all, but it opens the door for differing interpretations.
    What B heard was closer to “I don’t want to come to your party because I can’t think up a puzzle by then.” And she responded in a churlish manner, perhaps out of hurt feelings that her friend didn’t want to come to the party. (When people are under stress – as someone who is coming up on 40, planning a large party, and has goodness knows what else going on in their lives might be – they have a much harder time properly interpreting indirect communication.)

    Now, B is still more than a bit thoughtless in her initial request. And a snappish answer, even when feelings are hurt, rarely greases the wheels of civil discourse. OP is in the right.

    And that being said, OP, consider your desired result in this. If it’s to be in the right or to maintain a friendship. If it’s to maintain a friendship I would seek out B and have an awkward, direct question about whether she did or did not want me at her party (or maybe have your husband ask since he is closer friends with her). And maybe bring her a bottle of wine done up in one of those puzzle locks for a present.

  • Anonymous July 29, 2013, 1:08 pm

    I’d probably find a “creative gifts” party fun, because I’m creative. However, to REQUIRE creative gifts, as a condition of attendance, is extremely rude. It’s really no different from demanding store-bought gifts, except in reverse…and, people are supposed to think it’s not rude, because it’s not “materialistic.” That’s what sticks in my craw–the fact that the birthday person is supposed to get Brownie points for requesting things that don’t cost money, when really, they’re demanding a large outlay of their guests’ time, which costs them in other ways. While I wouldn’t necessarily end a friendship over this, I don’t think I’d want to attend a birthday party like that. Even if I did have the time and ability to procure a “creative gift,” there might be other friends who didn’t, and I’d hate to see them being snubbed or excluded over it. However, OP, if you feel you must attend, maybe you could “create” a pan of brownies or Rice Krispie squares or something.

  • Dee July 29, 2013, 1:42 pm

    Soooooo … OP’s husband doesn’t care that she’s been disinvited from his friend’s party because she can’t perform like a trained monkey? This “friend” doesn’t sound like one and would not seem to be much of a loss if she stopped speaking to both of them, but the relationship with hubby … does he not think that more important? I think the party is a red herring and the real problem, the real angst that shows up just at the end of the OP’s letter, is the husband’s disinterest in his wife’s feelings. Perhaps he’d like to rethink his attendance at this party and spend the evening presenting his wife with a nice poem or something else romantic instead. Much better investment for the future.

  • badkitty July 29, 2013, 2:18 pm

    To me, this is no different from hosting a potluck: you can ask/suggest/request that guests bring something to contribute, but you cannot REQUIRE that guests bring anything other than their own wonderful selves. Unless, of course, you’re willing to admit that your only reason for inviting a person is to get the thing they will bring. A friend of mine hosts an annual holiday dessert party, girls-only, requesting that we wear stretchy pants and make the goodies ourselves. Some people don’t have any recipes to share or time to make the goodies, and they are told to come anyway to add to the fun. It’s always a blast and there’s great mix of interesting people… and nobody feels that they *paid* to attend.

    I can’t imagine turning someone away from my party unless I really didn’t want them there anyway, regardless of whether they could bring anything, participate fully, dress to theme, whatever.

  • just4kicks July 29, 2013, 2:44 pm

    I’m with the posters who are wondering why on earth your hubby would still want to participate after this woman was horribly rude to you?!? If my husband did that, I guess that’s TWO people I wouldn’t be speaking to!!!

  • Carolyn July 29, 2013, 2:47 pm

    I agree with Elle’s theory of B only hearing the ‘therefore I’ll have to skip the party’ part and feeling hurt. The tail end of OP’s apology does come off a bit passive agressive.

    I believe things might have gone better if you replied ‘Oh, B, I’d love to celebrate your 40th with you, but I simply don’t think I’ll have the time to put something together that’ll be special enough for the occaision. Would it be all right if I brought something really nice for the refreshments/decorations?’

  • White Lotus July 29, 2013, 3:07 pm

    I like Cat’s idea of a mirror! With the kanji for “fortune” or something written on it by you. Or a haiku. Seventeen syllables (in non-kanji languages), 5-7-5, a natural image, an emotion, and something about her. Here’s your last line: “when I think of you.” Here’s a whole one. Dry lightning woman; a thunderstorm gone awry; deep within your eyes. No, not nice. And not very good, either. But fun to toss off, and these are meant to be tossed off.
    This sounds like a fun idea gone horribly awry. There are ways to improve it, like creating a collaborative piece at the party, or seriously taking away the mandatory aspect. Creative can be something purchased, too. Nope, she tried (and she isn’t odious) but this is a fail. Making it mandatory is very rude.

  • Marozia July 29, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Why didn’t you and your husband get together and create a ‘superpuzzle’ for her? Both working on an idea seems acceptable to me and both of your brainpower goes into it. I’m sure the friend would’ve loved it. Also, why couldn’t a group of invitees, say about 6 of you, get together and do a ‘video puzzle’ something similar?
    Working together is better than straining for one idea each.

  • MichelleP July 29, 2013, 3:38 pm

    No, no, no. I can’t imagine treating friends like this. There’s no excuse for responding the way the “friend” did. No one demands gifts as an admission, and then plainly states that the person can’t come if they don’t bring a gift.

    Admin is right on. This is nothing more than a gift grab, just less tacky than a money one.

    @jojo, I don’t know what turning 40 and being a woman has to do with this post, but yours is ridiculous. I am in my late 30’s, divorced and a single mom and LOVING it. I resent your statement that being single and 40 is “a difficult time.” Thanks for setting us women back 100 years.

  • AIP July 29, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Surely she was joking? Or as others have said thought that OP was declining the invitation to attend.

    I don’t see why the husband’s contribution can’t be “from both”. After all since time immemorial the female/one half of relationships have been purchasing gifts and cards, wrapping them, and signing the card “from both”. Surely women’s lib can afford her this little luxury? 😉

    As to the admission element, if they are a super-creative (and competitive) crew then it might be par for the course and something most enjoy. If it really is an admission charge though, that is incredibly rude.

  • schnickelfritz July 29, 2013, 5:07 pm

    I agree with Elle: OP set the tone for the birthday girl’s reaction:

    “I approached her earlier saying that I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to make a good puzzle for her and would therefore have to skip the party, and she said something along the lines of, “Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you, then.””

    If the OP said “I am sorry, I don’t have time to make/plan a puzzle before your party, but hubby has a plan!” I believe the hostess would have said “no problem! No Worries” If I was the hostess, my first reaction would be the guest was copping out – the OP is the one that brought up “I will therefore have to skip the party” – that is weird to me. OP’s comment prompted that response from hostess.

    I do not like invites asking to bring a quilt square, a book for baby instead of the card, favorite recipes, etc. I usually ignore them (except for close family that would appreciate my Mother’s best known recipes) – I will buy a nice gift when appropriate. I check the registry for the color preference, type of decorating etc. I rarely buy from registery, but it is nice to have an idea of the honoree’s taste. Mostly for showers. Cash for weddings these days.

  • JZB's Girl July 29, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I like the concept of the birthday boy or girl ‘hosting graciously, providing all refreshment and entettainment and GIVING gifts to attendees’ so much. I would extend that to children’s birthday parties too. Maybe then we could get away from the crazy concept that one must invite everyone in their child’s class in order to avoid hurt feelings. Teach your kids young to be great hosts rather than mooches!

  • kingsrings July 29, 2013, 6:28 pm

    I have seen this “make something creative” idea as an alternative to the standard birthday present, but this is the first time I’ve seen it required! Usually, I’ve seen it phrased on a birthday invitation as something along the lines of, “instead of getting me a present, please make something creative and personal”, which is also rude because one, you’re requesting presents from your guests and two, you’re telling them what to give you. I just can’t believe the nerve of this woman requiring it, and then rescinding the invite when it’s not followed! I also can’t believe the OP’s husband is still planning to go after the way this woman treated his wife. And Ehell Dame, I actually think it’s a bad idea for the OP to go anyway. I don’t understand the logic behind that. She was clearly told that she wasn’t welcome since she wasn’t following this ridiculous rule. Why should she go, then?

    How special can a birthday present really be anyway when it’s an instructed one? A poem, picture, etc., is only special and meaningful when it comes from the giver completely un-asked for.

    As for self-thrown birthday parties, I agree with the admin on the etiquette rules for them. It is not okay to potluck a birthday party for yourself. Your idea, your planning and preparation for it. Same with birthday restaurant trips. The only time it’s okay to go dutch or potluck it is when it’s a group-thrown bash.

  • Kate July 29, 2013, 6:41 pm

    OP, I’m not sure who is being more rude, the birthday girl or your husband. Yes, asking someone to contribute a creative gift for an ‘entry fee’ is a complete etiquette no-no and the birthday girl is completely underestimating how much time and effort these things take. But for her to disinvite you and your husband to then say, oh well, I have the time to make something, so I’ll be going and you can stay home? Rude.

  • appalled July 29, 2013, 7:24 pm

    It’s a combination of:

    “I’m sorry I cannot attend your party. My boyfriend and I usually attend social events as a couple.”

    Desired answer: “Oh, I did not know you had a boyfriend. Let me have his name and address so I can invite him. That way you can attend together.”

    Undesired answer: “I’m sorry to hear you will not be attending.”


    “I’m will not attend your event if you ask my ex-husband. It’s either him or me.”

    Desired answer: “I will exclude your ex-husband if that makes you more comfortable.”

    Undesired answer: “I am sorry to hear you will not be attending.”

    And there’s this:

    “I would love to come to your wedding, but I never go anywhere without my children.”

    Desired answer: “I will make an exception to our no-kids rule for your darling children.”

    Undesired answer: “I am sorry to hear you will not be attending.”

    The OP:

    ” I approached her earlier saying that I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to make a good puzzle for her and would therefore have to skip the party, ”

    Desired answer: “Don’t worry about the puzzle, just come to the party.”

    Undesired answer: “I am sorry to hear you will not be attending.”

  • Sunny_Ducks July 29, 2013, 7:56 pm

    I’d be tempted to do a cover of the song “You’re so Vain”

  • Tsunoba July 29, 2013, 8:56 pm

    #19 (Tanya) and #23 (Elle) said what I was wondering. If I thought someone was just making an excuse, I might refrain from saying that they were welcome even without the “entry fee.” This is because I’ve made an excuse to not attend an event before, and when told that they could accommodate me even then, I was put on the spot to tell the truth, come up with a second excuse on the fly, or concede to their wishes. It’s such an awkward position, I’d hate to put someone else in it!

    That said, I would hope I’d be able to come up with some way to say they were welcome anyway, but they still don’t have to attend. But even without being put on the spot like B was, I can’t think of a way to do that without the second part implying that I think it’s just an excuse.

    Life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to worry about hurting people’s feelings, and could just say “I don’t want to attend.” That way, we would know that it wasn’t an excuse.

  • Raven July 29, 2013, 8:56 pm

    OP, this “friend” isn’t really your friend. An actual friend would want you there to share in the fun of the celebration, not be focused on the (required?!) creativity. Cut your losses.

    As for your husband, it concerns me that he’s so “whatever” about the situation. If this so-called “friend” won’t allow you to come to her party because you can’t meet the “creative requirement,” your husband shouldn’t be working to create something so he can go. You are a team and a social unit. By going anyway, your husband is telling this so-called “friend” that the way she treated you is acceptable, when it isn’t.

  • The OP July 29, 2013, 10:31 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. My husband and I had a long talk about this, and I’ve encouraged him to honor his initial RSVP (made without knowing I wasn’t going to go) while I stayed at home. He enjoyed making the game he’s making; also, he and B are working together on a very large puzzle project together, and he doesn’t want to upset her.

    I’m not going. I’ll admit, there are other logistical reasons (being on a Wednesday night, not serving dinner despite being at dinner time, requiring “dressy attire” when no one in our social circle wears nice clothes to work) that make it difficult for me to go, but I would have made the effort if making something had been encouraged instead of mandatory.

    And yes, I used the “hint and hope” method of asking whether it was truly required to create something in order to go, and she might have been confused or joking when she replied. For good measure, I actually asked twice, and she replied the same way each time. Neither of us clarified what the other meant, though, and the more I think about it, the less appealing this party seems to me.

  • acr July 29, 2013, 10:53 pm

    “So, I guess I’m not going to the party. (My husband will be, though- he’s creating something.)”

    WHAT?! Your husband will be busting his bottom to create something for a person who treated his wife so shabbily?

    That’s a DH problem. Not a friend problem.

  • NostalgicGal July 29, 2013, 11:35 pm

    It took me a very long time to have my artistic skills ‘on tap’ to work for others as a ‘contract artist’. I alienated a lot of ‘artiste’ friends (or so-called friends) because I dared to “b*st*rd*z*” my artistic ability to PAY THE BILLS. I also dare to work in several mediums, not just fabric and sewing machines.

    My best work is still a serendipity, a hit or miss of ‘when the muse strikes’. I would say a third of my time was to make ‘bread and butter’ that filled the table and paid the overhead, a third was for custom work (you told me what you wanted and I did the work and produced the X for you, with quote, payment arranged and deadline), and a third was ‘when the muse bit’.

    Yes my doodles can be art, and pleasing and worth collecting and framing. Telling me you expect me to lay out serious time, effort, expense to glorify you and your party? Be glad I doodled you a dragonfly sitting on a flower on a blank recipe card. Aka, I’m not feeding your gimme pig.

    Now if I turned around and got into the fabric and sewed you a crazy quilt, an artist jacket or vest; crocheted you a 3d sculpture hat or an original stuffed critter (we’re talking 12-18″ and totally over the top) that took me a month or two, because I decided well in advance that that’s what I wanted to do, and knowing your tastes, you’d love it; that’s different. [one friend gift a few years ago was a highly customized ‘opoly’ that was hand drafted and crafted, six solid weeks. The first thing several of his friends said when they saw it was ‘I’ll pay you $20 to make me one’… (uh nope)] If you looked at my Queensized velvet and satin crazy quilt, and demanded either that one or one like it to join you for your party, I’d wave and say Have A Good Time Then, and make other plans.

    In the threads on here, yes I did toss a 50th bday party for myself, and ended up serving it as my caterer had a mess up about hiring someone to do so. My guests were supposed to come join me, have a good time, we had games, doorprizes (everyone went home with something) and yes we had a great time. (our Lovely Admin called it a ‘hobbit birthday party’ 🙂 ) I’d say to the OP, go with the hubby and if asked, say ‘I’m with him’ and be done with it. Many years back on second college pass, I had a ‘friend’ whose main gift was trying to get other people to do stuff for her (make stuff) then never cough up a cent. (I found out before I started cutting glass for the stained glass window from some other mutual ‘friends’ about this). I’m lumping OP’s birthday friend with this gal.

  • Seiryuu July 30, 2013, 12:03 am

    Yeah, friends shouldn’t need to spend that much time on something to bring to the party. As far as that goes, that IS the admission fee.

  • ddwwylm July 30, 2013, 1:57 am

    “Maybe then we could get away from the crazy concept that one must invite everyone in their child’s class in order to avoid hurt feelings. Teach your kids young to be great hosts rather than mooches!” the whole class rule isn’t about being a mooch, it’s about being polite, and it’s usually a school rule. It’s not polite to hand out a bunch of invitations at school and skip over some kids, essentially rubbing in their faces that they aren’t invited, so you either figure out a different way to get the invitations to the kids, or you invite them all. There are 30 kids in my daughter’s class, no way am I inviting that many kids to a party. I’m gonna be like a stealth ninja getting out those invites.

  • NV July 30, 2013, 4:17 am

    Even if B wanted the guests to collaborate instead of labouring separately, she essentially demanded that you create something when you asked her about it, OP. As a creator who cannot simply turn out pieces on tap, I find myself most affronted by this outrageous demand. There are very few who can simply sit down and make something of quality in a short time, and given that likely everyone that B ‘requested’ would have needed much more time and warning to create something she would find to be acceptable (since I find it hard to believe that anyone who makes demands like this would be satisfied by something she felt to be of poor quality, even if it was made by someone who truly liked her and put real effort into it), it seems that B is expecting that everyone should simply drop everything and make something for her party. Anyone who expects this of their friends is someone who should be avoided at all costs.

  • Green123 July 30, 2013, 4:30 am

    “I’m not going. I’ll admit, there are other logistical reasons (being on a Wednesday night, not serving dinner despite being at dinner time, requiring “dressy attire” when no one in our social circle wears nice clothes to work) that make it difficult for me to go.”

    What?! So not only is there an admission fee there’s also a dress code and you’re not even getting a bite to eat in return? Good grief… I think you’re better off without this ‘party’, OP…

  • Carol July 30, 2013, 5:02 am

    @appalled – I agree with everything you said except for the bringing children to the wedding. Many times a wedding is an evening, very formal event, and not something terribly exciting for children. Why should a bride and groom have to allow children to an adult event just because someone can’t leave their children at home? I think in that case it is okay to say ‘sorry you can’t come.’

  • jen d. July 30, 2013, 5:32 am

    Okay, I feel like we’re dogpiling on the OP’s husband. We don’t know the whole story, and the OP is writing about a friend, not her husband. It’s impossible to understand the dynamics of a relationship from a few sentences, and some of the comments are coming across as really condescending without having very many details of the relationship.

  • Abby July 30, 2013, 7:18 am

    Just read OP’s follow up. Um, exactly what kind of party *is* this? It’s on a Wed night, over dinner time, but dinner will not be served and the dressing up is mandatory? This sounds like an absolutely horrible party, and OP, you might want to count yourself fortunate B did not answer with, oh a gift is not necessary, just come without one. Is B expecting everyone to just go hungry that night, or rearrange their plans so they are eating dinner at 3 o clock?

    I suppose it’s vaguely possible that B interpreted OP’s ‘hint and hope’ that OP really did not want to go, and B thought she was letting OP off the hook instead of saying, come anyways, and then OP would have to scramble for another excuse to miss the party.

    However, the follow up makes me think that this is an elaborate test B is performing- those who are willing to skip dinner and dress up and spend hours on a gift honoring her are her “true friends” and OP fell short.

    OP, put on some comfy clothes, order a pizza, watch some trashy reality TV, and actually enjoy your Wed evening.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.