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Discretion In Discussing Party Plans

This one wasn’t a huge deal, but it stung a little.

I have a friend who I will call Jane. Jane is generally sweet but very, very etiquette-challenged.

Jane recently had a birthday and decided to throw a birthday dinner for herself, at which the diners would pay for their own dinner and each chip in for hers. Already this is on shaky ground, since I believe etiquette dictates that you shouldn’t host your own birthday party or throw a party at which you are not actually hosting but expect the guests to pay their own way. Unfortunately I have seen this a lot lately so I don’t think many of the guests thought much of it.

The part that I think offended the most people was that Jane announced via Facebook that she was having a birthday dinner so all her friends should check their event invites and respond. Except she sent that message to ALL her friends, when only a handful were invited to the dinner. Some of us checked several times that day before realizing it wasn’t a technology glitch, but rather that we had been excluded. I wasn’t very upset as she lives over an hour away and the dinner was in the middle of the week so I would have had to decline anyway, but I thought it was rude to discuss a party with people who were not invited.

This was followed up by a second message, again to all of her friends, reminding them to RSVP. Keep in mind that most of the people she sent the message to hadn’t been invited in the first place.

Lastly, she made a big point of posting pictures and talking about her wonderful birthday party, which again, didn’t offend me as I couldn’t have gone anyway, but was likened to salt in a wound by some mutual friends who live closer and would have liked to have been invited.

I understand that there are times when you are throwing a party/dinner you cannot possibly invite everyone you know, or even everyone you would like to invite, due to space or other restrictions, but I was always taught never to mention an event to those who were not invited. My mother even made sure when I was a child that I knew not to discuss a sleepover or birthday party in front of other friends unless I knew they were going also, to make sure they didn’t feel slighted. Is this something that has fallen by the wayside and not done anymore, or was Jane inadvertently committing a big etiquette blunder? 0313-14

I was twitching at the first mention of her hosting her own birthday party with the expectation that her guests were paying for her meal.  Tacky!

Regardless of how many people do this, it is still rude, unkind and inconsiderate to flaunt the details of a  party to people who are not invited to attend.   One of the worst examples I personally witnessed was a young woman exclaiming on Facebook how happy she was to celebrate her upcoming wedding “with 50 of my dearest friends” at her wedding shower.   Those people who were not invited to either the wedding or the shower got a rude epiphany as to where they stood with her.  People don’t think about how their words and photos can disappoint and hurt people.

There has already been one wedding in our family and another scheduled soon and because the weddings have had a small guest list, we do not discuss the details of the plans ahead of time or share photos to a wide public audience.  It simply is  not kind to taunt people with information about an event they are not invited to participate in.

{ 74 comments… add one }
  • Kaymar March 18, 2014, 6:07 am

    Interestingly, a lot of people on the forums seem to think it is a-ok to discuss wedding planning details on FB when they have hundreds of “friends,” most of whom aren’t invited.

    • kingsrings March 18, 2014, 1:51 pm

      I’ve been wondering about that as well. Facebook and other social media platforms kind of open up a can of worms when it comes to this area. On one hand, I fully realize that weddings are one event truly where not everybody can be invited due to space and money restrictions. However, having to read about and see photos of some weddings that I wasn’t invited to still stings, even though I understand why I couldn’t be invited. For example, later this year, two friends whom I so adore are getting married, and I didn’t make the guest list. I’m closer to the groom than I am to the bride, so I was kind of uncertain if I was to be invited or not. Completely understandable why I couldn’t be invited for the reasons I already stated, but I’m still really disappointed as I wanted to attend and see this beautiful couple get married, and some of our friends were invited. So now every time someone mentions the wedding on Facebook or posts their save the date that the couple sent out to them (it’s happened a lot!), it stings me. And when the wedding date is actually here, I think I’ll just stay off of Facebook for a few days while all the photos and posts about it abound.
      But are couples and guests really being rude for discussing their upcoming weddings on Facebook in front of everyone, invited or not? I’m unsure if they are or not. And so many people do it nowadays.

      • Sammy March 19, 2014, 3:05 am

        I think a lot of this depends how one sees Facebook in general. I think some feel it’s more like personal life blog where they update what they feel and if you are friend or actively read their posts, you are doing kind of the pull-side for the information. As in “if you are not interested, you hide/unfriend/not read my posts and so it is up to you”. They provide the information somewhere (in this case the media is Facebook), but it is up to you to look for it.

        Others seem to think it the other way round. Facebook status update is seen more like announcement made to all those who are able to see it. While not as personal as calling everyone separated, still bit like that, more active, pushing the information.

        So I would say, that those who feel the latter one is how Facebook is, are easily hurt when someone treats it like the first case. And those on the other hand probably don’t think they are offending because they are just keeping their personal life blog and anyone interested in reading it “must” know that sometimes there is stuff that they might not agree with.

        I’m not sure which side I am. I can understand the hurting. But on the other hand, I do think Facebook is just the place where you can write about the nice things in your life. I think that the problem is: I don’t see nothing wrong in mentioning in Facebook that I had nice dinner with my friend Anna. That is the whole point of Facebook. And mentioning that I’m going to concert with Jack and Jill, it’s still fine. So where is the limit that suddenly the amount of friends I’m spending time is so big that I cannot mention it anymore. Because, I do see the problem of talking about wedding with 100 friends.

        It’s difficult. Etiquette in social media is still somewhat forming, as we determine what the social media really is and how it compares to our lives and other means of communication.

        • Deb March 19, 2014, 10:50 am

          “I don’t see nothing wrong in mentioning in Facebook that I had nice dinner with my friend Anna. That is the whole point of Facebook. And mentioning that I’m going to concert with Jack and Jill, it’s still fine.”

          No, it’s not fine. Anna, Jack, and Jill may prefer to keep their activities private. Unless you know beforehand that they don’t mind advertising to YOUR friends, and your friends’ friends, where they go, with whom they socialize, and when their homes will be unoccupied, you should refrain from posting about anybody but yourself.

          • Sammy March 20, 2014, 1:51 am

            That is of course good point, while not the aspect of “okayness” I was thinking. As I was using this only as reference regarding if it is hurtful and excluding to my other FB friends (and I do think that in that sense, it is fine) I was having the pre-requirement that those posts would be otherwise fine. Including this aspect and also that they are otherwise polite, don’t contain hurtful or mocking language etc.

  • Lo March 18, 2014, 6:49 am

    This is bad all around for all reasons listed.

    On the upside, if I were a friend who wasn’t invited I’d be pretty relieved not to have to spend time with a person now confirmed to be using me as a meal ticket and pretend it’s totally cool because I showed up. Conversely having to bow out because I don’t want to be treated that way isn’t something I have an easy time explaining or making up excuses for. Like everyone else I have that one friend who does things like that and it’s almost a win/win when I don’t have to participate in some function of theirs. From my perspective, by all means, lets go to dinner, it’s your birthday so I’ll pick up the check and we’ll have a nice time and some conversation. But when friend makes it an event that every one must pay for the privilege of attending I’m all too thrilled to bow out. I am giving you a gift– I’m not an ATM.

  • sue March 18, 2014, 7:24 am

    This is what I hate about Facebook. We have a grown child who was visiting fairly close to us from the other side of the Atlantic, and emailed us they wouldn’t have time to stop and see us while they were in the area. We thought they were coming for a long weekend/destination wedding thing. After the wedding, for an entire WEEK we got to see FB pictures of them still in the area, doing all the things that apparently are more important than visiting your parents, one of whom has cancer.

    I just don’t get the whole “Whee! Here I am having a great time!” picture-posting on FB.

    • KJR March 18, 2014, 10:20 am

      That’s just wrong…I’m sorry. 🙁

    • hakayama March 18, 2014, 10:45 am

      You have my very best wishes for the full recovery of the “C Fighter”. Also sympathy regarding the quite sad situation you describe.
      It makes one wonder how close/good/healthy was your relationship with your offspring throughout the years… However, the poor behavior might perhaps not have been the result of the person’s character and/or lack of affection and consideration for you. Rather it could be chalked up to the age, and the individual getting caught up in the whirlwind and celebratory spirit of the occasion that prompted the trip.
      I can now only imagine how my “Sainted Mother” [pronounced in a very high-pitched voice ;-)] would react in one of her occasional PA but very diplomatic “specials”. After a week’s or so interval, she would email the offspring carrying on about how thrilled she was that the event was such a success, that the follow-up activities were soooo enjoyable, etc. And then, almost as a P.S., the zinger of mentioning a recent or an upcoming visit to the dr. or treatment center….
      Manipulative and guilt inducing to the max. But heck, that’s what parents are for, right? 😉

    • Daphne March 18, 2014, 2:44 pm

      Sue you should post what you wrote here on his/her facebook. Maybe his friends can school him on how to be a decent human being? I feel for you, and hope you find much strength to fight the cancer.

    • Cat March 19, 2014, 9:39 am

      Forget sending anything via Facebook. I’d send this ingrate a copy of my new will and let that speak for me.

  • INeedANap March 18, 2014, 7:58 am

    on a related tangent, I have never understood why it was rude to throw yourself a birthday party is you are supplying all of the food, drinks, space, etc. Maybe it is just my generation, but people don’t really host parties for their friends birthdays. I have thrown in my own parties while still being the host and supply ing everything. That way, people can just show up and have fun.

    • admin April 3, 2014, 9:44 am

      It is beyond pathetic that people will invest their time, money, hospitality to host an event that brings honor to themselves as the guest of honor yet cannot muster the same investment in their friends. It is the epitome of entitlement and self-centeredness to focus on hospitality that is designed to bring attention to oneself.

      • Laura April 7, 2014, 12:14 am

        I think there has to be an alternative to either sitting home alone on your birthday or hoping your friends will arrange something for you.

        I think it really depends on the attitude of the host. If someone wants to celebrate his or her birthday by extending hospitality to friends because she/he want to spend the day with them and show appreciation to them for making the past X years of life more enjoyable, I don’t see the harm or selfishness in that. I think in those instances, it’s hosts trying to show they understand people are busy/cash-strapped and wants to make it as easy as possible for friends to just show up and enjoy each others’ company.

        I think self-hosting a birthday celebration becomes a true etiquette violation when the host actively demands attention, adoration, cash, gifts and payment for party activities.

  • Ann March 18, 2014, 8:00 am

    The only possible exception I could think of was something like Facebook or Livejournal, where “friends” might be on the other side of the world and couldn’t just pop over for your wedding/birthday/special occasion. That still feels “off” somehow, and I would never phrase it as “50 of my most special friends”, yech! Neither would I go on and on about it, whatever “it” was. I’m wondering if it’s OK to make a brief announcement of a wedding on Facebook, like the mailed ones people send out (“William and Mary wish to announce the occasion of their marriage, etc….), or is that considered gift-grabby? No party photos, no nothing else but the announcement.
    I never heard of “inviting” friends for a birthday lunch with the expectation that yours would be comped until I got to Ehell. I would feel very uncomfortable doing that. It has happened that I’ve had lunch with one friend on my birthday and she bought me lunch anyway, but I never mentioned what day it was.

    • Page March 18, 2014, 10:08 am


      There’s a really easy way to announce on Facebook that you are married. You just have to change your status to “married” and it will show up in everyone’s newsfeed. However, I have friends overseas with whom I am still in touch and they told me via e-mail or private message when they were getting married. That way I knew it was happening and I was really excited to see the pictures come up on Facebook. This couple is an example of handling it well.

    • kingsrings March 18, 2014, 1:58 pm

      I’ve rarely experienced the host of a birthday dinner paying for everyone’s meals. I can only remember that happening one or two times in my life, and that was with a good friend’s birthday at a restaurant and her parents hosted it. Any other time when I’m invited to a friend’s birthday dinner, I’m always expected to pay for my own, and it goes without saying that I’m expected to pay for the birthday person’s dinner as well. I think the etiquette of the host paying in that situation has gone by the wayside a long time ago, whether that’s right or wrong. I’ve even been invited to a few birthday parties where it was potluck!

      • Whodunit March 20, 2014, 9:38 am

        I have been invited LOTS of times for birthday parties where I am expected to pay– and I usually don’t know this until the bill comes and is split 8 or 10 ( or whatever) ways. I don’t know if I should ask first or what????

      • whatever March 25, 2014, 1:15 am

        I think this has more to do with the average age and financial situation of the guests. Birthday dinner for a classmate in grad school? No way any one person could pay for dinner for our whole cohort of 15 people, even at cheapest local joint. You knew going in that you were going to split the bill. Nowadays, after reading this blog, and getting a real job that gives me real money, I do pay for everyone when I invite people for a celebration. But a lot of my friends think that’s weird (or worse, “flaunting money”) and argue when it comes time for the check because that’s never the way they’ve done it before.

    • Sally March 18, 2014, 11:10 pm

      Almost 8 years ago, my husband threw me a birthday party, in a restaurant, and we paid for everyone to attend. I couldn’t imagine our inviting people to a party and expecting them to pay for their meals. It was for my 50th, I was about 2 years out from a non-trivial cancer diagnosis/treatment, and we invited about 45 people. We had a blast! (The only thing we didn’t pay for is alcoholic drinks because we don’t drink. Some folks purchased drinks at the restaurant’s bar and brought them into the party but no more than a dozen did it.)

  • The Elf March 18, 2014, 8:08 am

    Birthdays: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t mind at all when adults host their own birthday parties PROVIDED that 1) no gifts are expected and 2) no guest is expected to contribute to the cost. I support parties for celebrating all sorts of life events – graduations, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, new jobs, cancer is in remission, it’s Friday, etc. The good things in life deserve to be celebrated. The clincher is that no matter what, if there is an honoree who is also a host, that person pays the lot. Otherwise it is way too close to being a gimmie pig.

    So right away, Jane has me rolling my eyes. But putting out that sort of announcement on Facebook? And then compounding it with the RSVP reminder? It’s bound to create ill will if you’re a “friend” but not really close enough to be invited. I don’t like it when the guests spill the beans either. At least wait until after the event to talk about it there!

    Perhaps, if you’re close enough, you can talk to Jane about it? Since this is coming from a place of ignorance and not meanness, she might be open to an etiquette lesson. Try to put it in terms of potentially hurt feelings, and stick to the facebook problem rather than the throwing-your-own-party problem.

  • Mary March 18, 2014, 8:15 am

    My ex-SIL was well known for making plans at family gatherings and pointedly inviting only the chosen few. For example, we’d all be sitting around after dinner sipping coffee and watching the kids play and ex-SIL would start discussing the latest movie she wanted to see. Then she would invite a few individuals to “let’s go see this movie tonight! Want to?! Let’s leave here at 5pm and head on over to the theatre” She showed no shame in very obviously excluding 90% of the room when she issued her invites. This happened at nearly every gathering, maybe it was an invite to go out for drinks, or shopping, but she would very openly discuss next event and then only invite the same few people.

    • kingsrings March 18, 2014, 2:18 pm

      This is another issue that I see happening too frequently, and it really upsets me and hurts my feelings. You don’t do that!! Not only is it hurtful, it’s also awkward for the people who were excluded. What are they supposed to do or say while everyone else is discussing going to the movie, the restaurant, etc.?? The next time that happens, I’m so very tempted to call the offender out on the spot. “Oh, am I (and whomever else was excluded) invited to this as well, or are you excluding us?” or just politely pointing out to them that it’s rude to do that.

      • Bibianne March 19, 2014, 8:00 am

        Well she did say EX-sister-in-law 😉

      • Mary March 19, 2014, 8:11 am

        I will say eventually the “chosen few” got tired of being the chosen few, stopped making plans with her and then she stopped asking altogether. Then she divorced my brother and life went on. 🙂

      • Thistlebird March 19, 2014, 11:19 am

        But somehow nobody ever does that, do they? I think there’s a reason, and I think people like this woman exploit it. I certainly would never dare to say “Are you excluding me?” in front of everyone. You’d have to say it awfully confidently not to look needy or pathetic–it’s like openly admitting they’re one-up on you, that they have the power to exclude. When someone excludes you, the only way to save face is to pretend you didn’t want to go anyway. Maybe that, in the end, is the biggest reason why it’s rude to talk about events in front of those who are not invited.

        • kingsrings March 20, 2014, 3:29 pm

          Good point. I would also not want to have a forced invitation. But still, I hang onto the fact that they need to know they’re doing something terribly rude. Some people are so clueless when it comes to manners that they don’t know they’re doing something rude until someone calls them on it. Perhaps instead one could say something along the lines of, “Please don’t talk about this in front of me.”, or “You really shouldn’t make plans in front of everyone unless everyone is truly included.”

  • Miss-E March 18, 2014, 8:38 am

    A friend recently posted a reminder via Facebook to all the guests of her wedding that the RSVP date was rapidly approaching and I thought that was kind of tacky as she has about 900 friends and there certainly won’t be 900 people at her wedding.

    What is the opinion on posting photos? Obviously, if this girl has 900 friends the majority aren’t people that she is very close to (she’s one of those Facebook-friend-collector-types) so I imagine a lot of people won’t be too hurt to see photos of a wedding they wouldn’t have wanted to attend anyway but what is the etiquette stance on posting photos from showers/parties/weddings/etc?

    • admin March 18, 2014, 9:07 am

      In regards to photos of my daughter’s wedding shower, we only posted those which included her and the wedding party…no shower guests. As for wedding photos, we did find that people wanted to see what she, her groom and the wedding party looked like so we did post some photos but we did not post photos of tables of guests.

      • The Elf March 18, 2014, 9:47 am

        I like that solution. I want to see my friends having fun – and photos of the bride and groom are always nice – but it is a little disheartening to see photos that imply that we had fun with loads of other people, but not you.

        • Margo March 19, 2014, 6:38 am

          I think posting pictures of the wedding after it has happened is fine – it’s not just a party, it is a life event too. My experience is thatthere are lots of people who are not clsoe friends with the couple getting married but who are never the less close enough to be interested in seeing that they have married, how everyone looked etc. I think posting pictures on facebook is closer to having pictures on display in your home than it is to discussing a party in front of someone who wasn’t invited – you wouldn’t go round taking down photos of your family and friends which were on display in your home simply because they were taken at an event where some of the visitors to your home were not invited.

          I do think that posting lots of status updates and talking about events is different, and more situational. However, i do think it is different to a face to face conversation and that he rules are less clear cut.

          • Whodunit March 20, 2014, 9:41 am

            I don’t think you should ever really post pics of OTHER people on your fb without their permission.

      • TMac March 18, 2014, 11:04 am

        Do you also hide the wedding photo album when people come over who weren’t at your wedding? I have no issue all the pictures in the world being posted on your Facebook page. I wasn’t invited on your vacation/kids birthday party etc, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to see pictures…

        I think the majority of people(in my circle of friends) view Facebook as an online photo album.
        I certainly wouldn’t talk about RSVP’s or invitations publicly, but pictures, not an issue and should not be…

  • Shoegal March 18, 2014, 9:29 am

    I simply don’t understand Facebook. I’m very private and would rather eat dirt than post pictures of myself and my life so that 900 plus people could see it. All that aside, it is a monster time suck.

    As for the birthday “dinner” – people do go out for dinner for their birthdays and the individual parties pick up their own checks more and more these days. Friends want to go out and have a nice time and someone’s birthday is a great excuse – but it isn’t a massive expense for anyone and you can chose how little or how much you wish to spend or you simply don’t have to attend. Very casual – no big deal. The part that reeks of tackiness is that she is putting this all together for herself. Often, the partner or friend of the birthday person says – “Hey let’s take Jane out to dinner for her birthday.” No gifts – no formal Facebook invites – we just all get together and go out. She went the extra step of advertising this on Facebook so EVERYONE could see it even people who weren’t invited. YUK!

    • gb March 18, 2014, 6:01 pm

      I agree… I’ve been out to dinner where we chose to go that night because it was someone’s birthday yet paid for ourselves and chipped in for the birthday girl/boy. BUT that’s what the group of diners chose to do, not because the honoree planned it for herself. That said, it’s usually a very small group of people doing this type of birthday celebration, not an invitation required type of affair.
      Setting up your own party for yourself and to decide others will pay is desperate and *REALLY* tacky.
      I get invited to one or two of these ridiculous self parties every year, and I usually decline because then I get stuck with “splitting the bill evenly,” … We all know how that works out.
      One girl does this type of party EVERY YEAR, usually in the city that’s a big drive, no where to park, and expensive place like sushi. I am torn every year between being annoyed at her selfish party, and feeling bad that she feels so desperate for attention that she needs a big, trendy birthday every year. I’m grateful my husband makes me feel special every birthday and I don’t need to throw myself a party every year to remind myself I’m loved.
      No excuse to their bad etiquette, tho.

  • lakey March 18, 2014, 9:37 am

    Although I have a Facebook account, I don’t like Facebook and barely use it. Isn’t there a way to limit your messages about party plans, or whatever, to the few people involved?

    • Rebecca March 18, 2014, 9:04 pm

      Yes, you can use private messaging, you can use event invites that only the invitees can see, and so on. There is no need to announce to your entire friends list, ‘Hey, the 10% of you who were invited, can you RSVP please?”

    • Margo March 19, 2014, 6:41 am

      Yes. You can send private messages (like a group email) and can also make ‘lists’ of people so that a specific status or item is only visible to them.

      When my sister got married, I uploaded some pictures of the wedding which I initially limited to a group consisting of me and my sister. Later, (once she and her husband had had the opportunity to look at at share pictures themselves) I amended the list to include other family members plus some friends of mine who had expressed an interest in seeing the pictures.

  • Jazzgirl205 March 18, 2014, 9:39 am

    Isn’t this ettiquette 101? My mother taught her children and I taught my dd never to discuss a party within earshot of those not invited. This lesson was emphasized before kindergarten. It just isn’t done. Well, people definitely do it and I think we have fewer of those “correct” social matrons who sail through sticky social situations knowing exactly what to do. I guess this lack of courtesy is why schools have rules that state that the whole class must be invited to b’day parties.

  • flora March 18, 2014, 9:48 am

    Stuff like this is why I never joined Facebook. Though I’ve encountered more then enough of this type of rudness is real life. One of the more hurtful ones was a long time ago, a few of my friends were talking about haunted houses and getting together to see them together. One of which was right by my place and I causally mentioned it was close to me. They both immediately shut down and looked at me oddly and that’s when I realized they didn’t invite me. I wasn’t planning on going anyways but it still really hurt.

  • Lisa March 18, 2014, 10:39 am

    This is your child you are speaking about; why didn’t you just call and have a conversation instead of following facebook?

  • Library Diva March 18, 2014, 11:35 am

    I find the “event” function on Facebook tricky, and am wondering if Jane didn’t mean to do this. I created an event several years ago to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a bar across the street from my workplace. Most of my co-workers were already either planning to go or had decided to skip it, and the true purpose of the event was to let former co-workers know that we were still going to be at the bar this year and they were welcome to join us. I thought I’d restricted it to only those people, but I got some joking replies from friends scattered around the country: “Would love to come but still going to be here in Florida that week” etc. etc. No real harm done — after all, this was a party at a bar and is open to everyone of legal drinking age, but still was a lesson to me not to use this function unless it was truly “for everyone.”

    I agree, you have to be careful with your postings, and consider how they might hurt those not invited to participate. I do also think that only goes so far. When I got married, everyone I was FB friends with who could have reasonably expected an invitation got one. The other FB “friends” are pals from previous jobs or school that I hadn’t seen in years (or even decades in some cases). To invite them would have looked gift-grabby. I don’t think there was anyone who felt excluded by my photos.

    Another concern is what other people do. If you’re planning some sort of event where only some FB friends are included and there are others who might be hurt, you might want to lock down your page so that others can’t see what is posted there. I did this when my mother died. We lost her early in the morning on a Friday, and we notified as many people as we could via phone, but a lot of them were at work and unreachable. I didn’t want any family finding out about her death that way, so I changed my settings until later in the evening (at which point I did want all of my friends to know but lacked the emotional energy to call them all).

  • JeanLouiseFinch March 18, 2014, 11:52 am

    I’m with Lo – it would be a relief not to be invited to this event. However, just remember that this person is probably just oblivious to other people’s feelings. There are lots of people out there that you can only count on so far. If people are truly clueless (which is evident from the nature of the invitation), then taking offense serves no real purpose.

  • Enna March 18, 2014, 12:05 pm

    I don’t see any harm in saying “I’m having a great night out with the girls/boys!” provided there is no nasty or bullying langauge which is aimed at a certain indiviudal. However what this lady has done is quite rude because she is asking people to check their inboxes on FB for their invites: which is unfair because it is misleading. Also expecting people to pay for her meal is also rude. As for hosting her own birthday party – maybe she has the space to do host? Or parking? Or she is in a good location for guests to get to? If she is providing the food I wouldn’t see the problem in someone hosting their own birthday party or special occasions provided it isn’t a gift grab.

  • Jewel March 18, 2014, 12:18 pm

    Where I live, people who act this way are thought of as having “not been raised right”. It’s so incredibly hurtful when others plan a fun, exciting activity right in front of people who aren’t invited. I used to just stay silent when this happened, but now I pipe up and say, “Sounds great! What time?” and watch the conflicting emotions on their faces while they stutter, “Uh……we’re not sure….it’s not set in stone yet…..” I must say that the same people haven’t made plans in front of me again, so the message got through.

    I remember once a similar situation that happened AFTER the fact: about half the members of a small group were going on and on about a great party another member hosted. When I asked a clarifying question about it (when/where the party was), the person I asked added that the hostess only invited “her closest friends”. I just said, “I thought I was a close friend of hers. Wow.” I did know I wasn’t as close to the hostess as those who had been invited to the party, but I said it to make a point. All party chat stopped as they put on their “shame faces”. Served them right.

    • kingsrings March 19, 2014, 4:35 pm

      One time I was at a large group dinner that was a social activity that was part of an organization. At one point, the head of the event came to our table and said in front of everyone if they’d be interested in going to his house after the dinner and watching a movie. Since he said it in front of everyone, I assumed that I was included in the invite, so I answered that yes, I was interested in doing that. He shot me the most stricken, “oops!” look that told me that he was only directing the invite towards certain people at the table. Of course I was incredibly embarrassed and humiliated, but hope that he was as well since he certainly deserved to be! Another time I was driving with 2 friends and one friend said something about going to a flea market sometime. I said that I’d love to. She then quietly remarked that she was just talking to the other friend about that. Our friendship didn’t last long.

  • Lindsay March 18, 2014, 12:37 pm

    Facebook is obviously full of major life announcements. I think new fiancees and expectant parents, etc. have every expectation that they can broadcast their good news and share with close friends as well as the acquaintances from long-ago schools. (I really enjoy seeing old friends on their wedding day or following their growing families).

    The difference lies somewhere in between announcing or making occasional posts about your great news and posting minutiae about wedding/shower/housewarming planning. The minutiae (of anything, including job or political news) is annoying and obsessive. What OP posted is above and beyond rude and hurtful. People aren’t clueless and do know that there are usually quantity/closeness cutoffs, but to be specifically told that there is a party on X date for Y people and that you’re not part of it is cruel.

  • Harley Granny March 18, 2014, 1:06 pm

    To me the only acceptable birthday party that you throw for youself is the one you insist that there are no gifts and YOU would invite them to your home and you be doing all the cooking and cleanup.
    This is actually happening more and more with my group of friends in my age group. It’s actually just easier. Of course no one is left to clean up all by themselves.

    That aside…… on FB the details would only be discussed in the event section where only the invited people could see it.

    Now after the fact, I have no problem with a few carefully selected pictures being posted about the celebration. After all everyone knows that people have birthdays and they know that people sometimes get together to celebrate them.

    FB itself is not evil…it’s how people choose to USE FB that makes it evil.

    • Sammy March 19, 2014, 4:05 am

      This is actually quite the norm here. Birthday parties are usually always thrown by the birthday-person. But, they are the type that friends are invited to the birthday-person’s (BP later on!) home, BP provides either the meal or snacks and some drinks, depending type of the party. And generally gifts are not that expected for random birthdays. People usually bring something, but maybe more hostess-type of gifts (like bottle of wine or something similar). Of course, friends that would have given gift anyway may bring it to the party.

      Bigger and more official birthday parties (like round numbers) are different matter.

      • Sammy March 19, 2014, 10:03 am

        I forgot to mention, that most probably this is because birthdays are not seen really important after childhood. So they serve more as an excuse to have friends over or to party with your friends for younger (20-30) generation. Many don’t celebrate them at all, or do so only with family (I’m one of those, my birthday is around holidays, so I’m usually visiting family members and we just have cake or dessert with whoever is around).

    • The Elf March 19, 2014, 8:55 am

      That’s the way our little group does it too. Whoever wants to celebrate arranges a little get-together, makes dinner or whatever meal, gets drinks, etc. It’s easier to do this at home than at a restaurant, but for some space is a big problem. As long as the party-thrower (birthday celebrant, in this case) picks up the check we’re all good. I don’t see this as different from celebrating anything else or throwing a non-birthday party.

      • Whodunit March 20, 2014, 9:47 am

        I’ve recently been invited to a child’s birthday party where I had to pick up my own tab. I asked others later on what they thought of picking up their own tab and they said” yes, everyone pucks up their own tab, we consider that part of our gift to the birthday girl(guy). Do you all agree??

  • Elea March 18, 2014, 3:46 pm

    I am so glad to read that there are others who still understand keeping private events private in order to respect those not invited to participate. That said, I goofed once and felt horribly guilty. Several of us in the office were planning to go see the first installment of the Hobbit trilogy. We were discussing plans over email and one of my coworkers asked about it while I was on my way to the break room. I stopped and quietly (because I believe it is polite to try and speak quietly when in an office) discussed a few details. We have another coworker who is extremely nosy and has fantastic hearing. I will admit that I tend to get annoyed by this person because they see nothing wrong with eavesdropping and jumping into a conversation even if it is happening several rows away. They piped up, “That sounds great! When is it?”. I felt like a pretty awful person, because they were not invited. It was my fault for discussing it, there was a reason plans were being made through email. I said we weren’t sure yet (sound familiar Jewel? lol I was definitely that fumbling fool!).

    I withdrew from the event and it wound up being canceled. I certainly didn’t expect others to not go, but I have an overgrown guilt gland and even though I can’t stand that particular person, I still felt like a “mean girl” for not inviting them. It was a valuable lesson in etiquette. While I don’t think people should invite themselves to events, we are wise not to create an opportunity for them to do so.

    • Dee March 19, 2014, 12:19 pm

      Please stop feeling guilty – you were very obviously having a private conversation when someone else butted in. Even if that someone has fantastic hearing and was able to discern the gist of your conversation that doesn’t mean they had the right to interrupt and assume an invitation. As long as you were sincerely trying to keep your conversation reasonably private then the responsibility is on the other person/people to stay out of that which is not their business.

  • Angie March 18, 2014, 5:58 pm

    I agree that this is rude. It is also not a wise idea to post an invitation on Facebook and assume that everyone will see it A person who has a large friends list might not see your post amongst everyone else’s. I’ve heard of people announcing parties, etc. by making a general Facebook post and then wondering why hardly anyone came.

    • Enna March 19, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Also there have been horror stories of loads of univited people turning up and causing problems.

  • Another Michelle March 18, 2014, 6:19 pm

    I have a friend of FB who has an upcoming 21st party. She has announced to all and sundry that she’s organising this party but all and sundry are not invited. She keeps updating FB saying “2 weeks to my 21st!”, “1 week to my 21st!” etc and details of the entertainment at the party, but I guarantee that ALL her FB friends were not invited (I certainly didn’t receive an invitation). I’m not exactly miffed (I’m unable to attend anyway), but it is a little irritating to see these updates so regularly.

  • gb March 18, 2014, 6:28 pm

    Once I was at a “scentsy” party, where the host sells wax warmers, etc. Another guest that I thought I was getting closer to openly talked about get jewelry party. I saw some of the jewelryb online and really liked out, but I want to set that type of thing in person before I buy. Since she did talk about it right in front of me, and saw I was buying items at this party, I assumed I was invited and said, “Oh then I can see the jewelry in person that I’ve been spying on your website…” She gave me a confused look and snapped at me that I could buy the jewelry online through her website. I guess I’m not invited! What really hurt want that I didn’t get invited, but how she shot me down in front of others while bragging about her own party. I also felt stupid for assuming. Guess what? I did order the earnings I wanted… But I left out the sellers part. No points for you! I love to buy tasteful costume jewelry as gifts. I’d love to walk by her and have a “Pretty Woman” moment!

  • Wendy March 18, 2014, 9:46 pm

    I would never start a discussion but I am willing to participate in one, my wedding is in April many people at my work who are not invited know this through the grapevine mostly and while I do no bring it up with them I will answer questions ie “yes we are getting married/4 weeks it is very exciting thankyou/by the beach” and so on. If I
    Talking with someone who is invited then usually we are alone and if someone walks by and hears tough luck I don’t want to keep silent about it. If they join us at the table then we finish that topic and include them in a new discussion, I think it’s worse to just suddenly stop talking because someone who is not invited is near by. I don’t see anything wrong with this should I be admitted to ehell?
    What this woman did was rub the party in others faces and it must have been deliberate because Facebook notifys you of messages events.

    • kingsrings March 19, 2014, 4:52 pm

      I don’t see an issue with that. The conversation was already started before the person walked up and joined you. Now if you’d started the conversation while they were there already, yes, that would be rude.

      The only time it’s acceptable to talk about an event in front of others who aren’t invited is it’s clear they aren’t going to be there because for these reasons: they’ve already rsvp’d no, it’s a group-exclusive event (such as a theater group holding a cast party, and said person isn’t a member of that theater group), or they live far away and wouldn’t be there anyway.

  • Cat March 18, 2014, 10:05 pm

    Some people are just clueless when it comes to how other people feel about being excluded from events to which they could have expected to be invited. I have an uncle who sent me photos from family events because he thought I’d want to see what a great time my family was having. The fact that I was not allowed to come and might feel badly at seeing the pictures really didn’t occur to him. I finally had to ask him not to send the pictures any more.

    I would send invitations to those I wished to invite and not mention it on Facebook. Your friends know when your birthday is. I would never ask them to pay for their own meals or for mine. I’d have a barbeque in a park and serve hot dogs, chips, and soft drinks if that is what I could afford.

  • Beat.Your.Heart.Out March 18, 2014, 11:29 pm

    I was once unwittingly complicit in this sort of exclusion :-(.

    Two years ago, a friend at this theatre group I was in was planning a huge birthday thing (it never went ahead anyway, but that’s irrelevant).
    During a break in rehearsals, I was chatting to her and two others, and she began to talk about her party. The other girl who’d been in the group for a while and I both enthusiastically joined in. The fourth, who was new to the theatre group, remained silent. I assumed she was just quiet or shy, and tried to make more eye contact with her while I was talking so she felt part of the discussion.
    I did have a little doubt at the back of my mind, but surely Birthday Friend wouldn’t have brought it up like that if New Person hadn’t been invited, would she?

    Yeah, I got home, checked the invite list on the Facebook event, and there was no New Person.
    I felt horrible.
    I should have been more perceptive to her discomfort, especially having spent a good portion of my life being the uninvited one.
    (Sorry if some of my phrasing here seem a bit overly formal, I’ve just been writing English assignments :-P)

  • Shannan March 19, 2014, 8:29 am

    This is an etiquette rule taught in school: if you want to pass out party invitations in class, you have to invite the whole class.

  • Kirst March 19, 2014, 8:59 am

    Are people really so sensitive that they can’t bear to hear about an event they’re not invited to? Blimey. Can we not just accept that everyone else has lives which don’t always include every single person they know?

  • thebirdandtheb March 19, 2014, 9:31 am

    I’m so tired of all these “I never understood Facebook and don’t want to broadcast my life to the 10000 strangers on the internet” comments. You do realize that you make the choice whether or not to post things publicly or privately right? Facebook does not just broadcast your words to the world randomly.
    It’s cool that you think Facebook is stupid. I remember the point where people thought the telephone was stupid, then a point where people thought the internet was stupid, and yet another point when people thought cell phones were stupid. Get the point?
    Facebook is a communication tool. Some people use it wisely and some people don’t. That’s all. Decrying social media because of a few idiots doesn’t make people look so much more cultured than everyone else, it just makes people look woefully behind the times.

    • ketchup March 20, 2014, 10:33 am


    • gb March 20, 2014, 4:16 pm


    • Library Diva March 21, 2014, 10:12 am

      This!!! I too get so tired of all the “I stay above the tacky, silly Facebook fray” comments.

    • Vrinda March 21, 2014, 12:34 pm

      Facebook is not going to be the same technological innovation as the telephone or the internet. There are idiots who misuse Facebook, broadcasting their every move to the world, and know they are doing it. That is a fact. It is a problem across all social media and is not something uncommon. Calling those who decry social media “woefully behind the times” is overblown. Social media is not a necessity for everyone nor something they need to acknowledge.

  • Stella March 19, 2014, 10:49 am

    I do feel like posting wedding photos on a private FB account shouldn’t be frowned upon. Neither vague wedding plans. FaceBook is generally for making posts about your general life, and wedding planning tends to be a big part of it. Would you judge people for making a post going, “celebrating my union to my loved one today!”. I mean, someone who wasn’t invited might feel bad 🙁

    I’ve never understood why either hosting your own birthday party is tacky, or why it’s considered bad etiquette to invite friends to go out for dinner with you for your birthday. I understand asking them to pay for yours is tacky as hale, but can someone explain the first two points for me. I’m from Europe, so maybe it’s a cultural difference?

  • Cleo March 19, 2014, 4:35 pm

    I have a group of friends just like this. I would never dream of throwing a party and talking about it in front of people not invited. My friends however do not feel the same way and often talk about parties in front of me. The really hurtful part though is that they are the sort of group where you have to invite all of them or none of them. If I neglect to invite someone, or have to make cuts due to number restrictions then they will say something to me about it, yet they have parties all the time and don’t invite me! If you are going to exclude people at least be sensitive about what you share on Facebook.

    As for hosting your own party at a restaurant, I’m afraid everyone does it now, including myself, but I have never expected anyone to pay for my meal (and I usually buy a round of drinks).

    • JO March 20, 2014, 1:40 pm

      Forgive me, but if these people exclude you on a regular basis, and then get upset that you don’t invite one of them, it doesn’t sound like they consider you a real part of “their” group. Why would you be friends with people who insist on taking advantage of your hostessing but can’t return the favor?

      • Cleo March 21, 2014, 3:57 pm

        The double standard has always annoyed me, and a few other things that they do which are stories I could submit in their own right. The behavior got worse recently after an argument I had with someone from the group. I’m pretty much developing new friendships at the moment and slowly hanging out with these people less.

  • jj March 19, 2014, 6:16 pm

    I’m of the mind that if you don’t plan on inviting everyone then you don’t discuss it on facebook or in a big group of people(when most of the people there won’t be invited). You create a private group on facebook or talk privately to the people you do plan on inviting when it comes to plans. It’s similar to grade school as a kid when you don’t bring invites for your party to school to hand out during class time if you only plan on inviting a few select kids in the class and excluding the others. Then have the tact to hand them out privately via mail or deliver them to each person privately outside of class.

    And seriously expecting everybody to pitch in for the cost of your meal? Tacky! At least wait to see if they offer it to you at the dinner (which typically someone does end up doing anyway). Don’t feel entitled to them paying for it and demanding they do it. I am surprised she didn’t just give them a registry of gift ideas to and assigned everyone a gift she expects them to buy too

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