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Tour de My Birthday

I’m curious what others think about this— maybe my own feelings about my birthday (which is, I’m grateful to have one and appreciate any kind gestures but don’t want any significant celebration) are clouding my judgement and making me curmudgeonly about this!

A bit of background: this particular friend has done this for at least seven or eight years now; selecting up to a week’s worth of activities to celebrate her birthday and mass-inviting friends, family and co-workers via Facebook. Activities have ranged from wine tasting to park picnics to movies to group dinners. As well as my memory serves, she’ll sometimes provide some food, as in cupcakes for the park picnic, and make the group reservation, but any entrance fees, tickets, meal checks, bar tabs, etc. are expected to be paid by her “guests.”

The invitation, received the first week of July for a birthday the last week of August, is as follows with identifying details changed:

I’m planning to celebrate my birthday with two days of fun!

On my actual birthday, I’ll be at Scooby’s Bar and Grill after work. Not sure about the time yet, but I’ll let you know (they have happy hour specials until 6 though so arrive as early as you want!).

On the Sunday after my birthday I’ll be participating in the Walk to Save the Micro Orphan Whales. More info to come; you’re welcome to join my fundraising team.

Then we can head over to Le Bougie Bistro to celebrate with food and refreshments. Based on the travel time I estimate we will start brunch around 10am.

On Sunday evening I’ll be attending the Symphony on the Green. We’ll have pizza among other goodies. Link to tickets here.

My thought is, if you’re in your mid-thirties and want to celebrate your birthday with more than your immediate family, you invite friends or whom ever for whatever fits your vision and budget—if that means a formal, gourmet dinner party, buying everyone pitchers of beer and plates of wings at a local bar, or even just cake and a board game in your living room, whatever; but you provide the hospitality and thank these people for being in your life. To me this sounds like “here’s my grand birthday tour, you may be graced by my presence at your convenience.” To that end, she titled the event “Birthday Options” and in the past has even said that she’s planned a full spectrum of events so that everyone can find something that works for them (I ignore the invitation completely but have considered submitting this every year for awhile now).

Of course, she’s already posted links to gift suggestions and this comes just weeks after asking for donations to fund her sketch comedy club’s European “performance (vacation).”  0807-18

By now everyone on the planet should know my thoughts on “invitations” of this nature.  One almost expects young children to be selfish and whine of their need to be suitably feted for their birthday but adults?  Pity the grown adult who must regress back to childish needs for a birthday party.

In this story, the birthday girl (and I use the diminutive intentionally) annually invests a considerable amount of time coordinating, scheduling and planning events surrounding her birthday yet apparently does not apply her considerable skills to bless anyone else.    One hopes that enough friends, family and co-workers decline to attend the birthday events.

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  • Anon October 15, 2018, 7:43 am

    I would never plan a birthday “week” like this, nor do I know anyone who would dream of doing so. For most people, birthdays are just not that big of a deal! But for me this doesn’t rise to the level of appalling (merely kind of weird and off-putting) because she’s really just using the birthday as an excuse to organize some activities which people are free to join or not. These are activities for which people would generally expect to pay for themselves. My decision to go would have everything to do with whether I wanted to see the birthday girl, whether I wanted to hang out with other people likely to be there, and whether I wanted to dine at that particular establishment. Since there are so many “options” I wouldn’t feel obligated in the slightest to try and make any one (or even any) of the events.

    The gift suggestions are over the top, though. I would bring a gift to a hosted event. I would not bring a gift (any more than a token card or similar) to something where I had to pay my own way.

    • shoegal October 15, 2018, 11:17 am

      I tend to agree with this. It sounds really casual – like hey – I’m going to be here at this time and place if you want to show up. She’s not asking for RSVPs or anything. The real etiquette faux pas is asking for gifts. Frankly, I would never organize any of this – especially not to the extent she has. I wouldn’t even send out a text to say I’m going to be at this bar at this time – for a couple drinks and link my birthday with it. I’d be mortified. The only way this happens if my friend or significant other put that out there.

      • OP October 16, 2018, 2:57 am

        OP here… she does ask for RSVPs… in the form of emojis (“Comment ?? (Heart) if you’ll attend every event, comment ?(Daiquiri) if you’ll attend happy hour…”). In past years she’s emphasized which event would be considered the “main celebration” if you could only attend one thing.

        I’m with you, I don’t think I’ve invited anyone to celebrate my birthday in any way for at least ten years. Friends have been kind enough to organize casual BBQs or such but stopped after a couple years when they realized how much I hate the attention. Give me a non-birthday BBQ anytime!

    • DianeRN October 15, 2018, 11:37 am

      I would agree but my SIL does this routine also and has for years. BTW, she is 60. It sounds casual but for the meals or any events that are not paid for in advance it is strongly suggested/hinted that someone should purchase for her because she is the birthday girl.

    • Lacey October 17, 2018, 3:37 pm

      People who do this are never just suggesting. There’s always guilting and passive-aggression and pressure. These are the same people who remember who didn’t attend their 5th party that week, and who didn’t get them a gift, FOREVER. Anyone who has a “birthday week” is a needy drama queen. I’ve known a few and am lucky to be the kind of person who fairly easily just stops being friends with people I find this irritating. It’s a symptom of a certain type of personality. It’s the worst, and there will be people in the comments defending it forever. OP, you’re not wrong and if this person is that irritating, you’ll be happier not being friends with her.

  • DGS October 15, 2018, 8:53 am

    Yuck. That is all.

  • Essess October 15, 2018, 10:06 am

    All people have to do is decline to attend. That would stop the constant barrage after a year or two.

  • Mary Sgree October 15, 2018, 12:08 pm

    She wants friends to go with her places.
    1. Shes hedging her bets by sending invites to loads of people, hoping she’ll get at least 1 or 2 for each thing
    2. She thinks shes weird to do this, but she thinks if she turns it into an “event” people will be more apt to show up, so she pretends it’s for a good cause
    3. I, however, have no thoughts for the birthday gift suggestions

  • NicoleK October 15, 2018, 12:33 pm

    Seems like she’s just using her birthday as an excuse to reach out and see her friends, hence the large list of activities. If you want to see her go, if you don’t, don’t.

    • edy October 15, 2018, 4:52 pm

      I was with you until the link to gifts. I love any excuse to go out with a group of people I like, and birthdays are often the best excuse to get a group together. I often buy the birthday person a drink or so, but asking for gifts really turns the tone of the event to one that I would not be interested in.

  • ladyv21454 October 15, 2018, 12:49 pm

    If someone does this EVERY YEAR, it’s no longer just “casual suggestions”. It has become “It’s MY birthday, and I DESERVE celebration, so if you don’t come to at least one, and preferably all, of these events, you’re not really my friend.” This is reinforced by the fact that she’s ASKING for gifts – which is about as much of an etiquette faux pas as you can possibly commit.

    I’m almost 65, and I can’t remember ever having an actual birthday party since I became an adult. I’ve had friends take me out for a meal, or for drinks, but that was totally voluntary on their parts. If I DID want to have an event to celebrate, it would be one that I paid for 100% by myself.

    • Lacey October 17, 2018, 3:38 pm

      Exactly. Thank you. And notice that these people aren’t usually planning friend get-togethers the rest of the year, for no reason.

  • lakey October 15, 2018, 12:52 pm

    “Of course, she’s already posted links to gift suggestions and this comes just weeks after asking for donations to fund her sketch comedy club’s European “performance (vacation).” ”

    This is the biggest problem. Expecting other people to fund your vacation and asking for gifts is pretty bad.
    As far as scheduling all of these birthday events, there’s just something self-absorbed about assuming everyone is that interested in your birthday. However, it is also easy to just ignore it. If this is the only thing wrong with this person, I would ignore the requests I don’t like. If the person is consistently self-absorbed or greedy, I would dial back the relationship.

  • Catherine St. Clair October 15, 2018, 1:17 pm

    I arrange to be out of town on my birthday. Once I hit twenty-one, I saw no need to continue with celebrations. One friend did give me a gift- a bar of rose scented soap. I got a couple of cards.

  • JD October 15, 2018, 1:23 pm

    I think I would have the attitude that “So it’s your birthday, so what?” about this. I don’t see the need to schedule this much stuff or to expect people to pay to attend an event or events just because she wants them to come in honor of her birthday. Multiple years, no less. If she wants people to come with her that badly, she should offer to pay for a couple of friends to join her at one (!) of those events, and leave the mass invites out of it.
    Asking for gifts is so crass. Pay to party with me and oh, don’t forget to give me a gift, because it’s my biiiiiiirthdaaaaaay!
    Speaking as a person born on Feb. 29 , I find yearly celebrations of birthdays to be overrated. 🙂

  • Eagle Archambeault October 15, 2018, 1:37 pm

    I have to admit, sometimes I celebrate a birthday week, but that mostly is because my partner usually buys his gifts for me on or after my birthday, plus it mostly is an excuse to eat cake for a week instead of a day 🙂

    • Cattra October 15, 2018, 10:04 pm

      My partner and I also celebrate birthday week 🙂 My mother always made my 2 siblings and I feel extra special on our birthday. (the other two siblings got a tiny gift on the birthday sibling’s day as well. A tradition that continues to this day – I’m the eldest in my early 40s). As a result I’ve grown to love celebrating birthdays and love sharing everyone else’s as well (if they didn’t want to celebrate, I would respect that as well.

      I have a small group of 5 other friends whom I went to school with and continue to see almost 25 years later. We celebrate each other’s birthdays every year. We pay our own way and we provide a gift with larger gifts marking the start of each decade. Because it is understood between the 6 of us, and we love celebrating with our nearest and dearest, none of us have a problem with celebrating this way.

      I would not expect this of any work colleagues, extended relatives, casual friendships, social media friends etc and wouldn’t dream of asking.

      I also hate gift grabs from entitled people but where it is understood between a select few, and everyone is financially able to do so, let them celebrate for a day.

      • Lerah99 October 16, 2018, 9:43 am

        @Cattra, your tradition with your 5 friends sounds really sweet! I think it’s lovely that you all take the time to remember each other’s birthdays and celebrate.

  • ann campbell October 15, 2018, 1:42 pm

    In our crowd, people usually set up a Facebook event for their birthday celebration. It is usually at a bar, sometimes with a casual dinner before. No one is expected to buy a gift. You could buy the person celebrating a drink, but that is optional. The only thing expected is that you pay your own way.

  • lkb October 15, 2018, 2:10 pm

    Agreed that asking for gifts for one’s own birthday is crass. As to the activities, if she had just said, as others have noted above, “Hey, I’m gonna be here at this day/time and there at this day/time, if all y’all want to join me, that’d be great,” I have no problem with it. If it’s coming across as “Hey, I’m gonna be here, come with me and buy my ticket/dinner/drink because it’s my birthday,” then no.

    I wonder if she does it like this because she’s indecisive about what she wants to do to celebrate, so she chooses all of them. (I’m indecisive myself and can sort of see it (though I wouldn’t do it.)

  • Harry's Mom October 15, 2018, 2:21 pm

    This is awesome, I really needed a chuckle today. I’ve never understood the ‘it’s all about me’ thought process. Honestly, I’m much better about celebrating others than I am myself and am grateful once my birthday is over with.

  • Bea October 15, 2018, 2:38 pm

    I honestly didn’t see the problem until you mentioned she solicited gifts. Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.

    Beyond a token gift here and there, mainly because we happened to find just the right thing prior to the event, my friends and I very much just meet up for a night out. I’ll always pay for anyone who I invite out, I loath inviting people to spend their money on something I suggest we do together.

    This is the era of social media. I get enough warm wishes and nice comments to get me through the harsh year that isn’t all about me. I can’t fathom ever saying “Hey guys, here’s some suggestions on what you can get me!” for any life occasion. I buy my own things. Sigh.

  • kingsrings October 15, 2018, 2:44 pm

    Ironically, today is my birthday! Lol that there’s a EHell birthday posting on this day. And by the way, I’m planning on dining at a ritzy steak house tonight and you all are invited to it. Here’s the link to the menu and prices……. ; )
    Nearly every friend I’ve ever had has done what the OP’s friend is doing. Although most not a bunch of invites to different places. Nobody but me think it’s rude, so I just keep quiet. I don’t do that for my birthday.

    • Goldie October 15, 2018, 3:52 pm

      Happy birthday! 🙂 Sending you thoughts of steak 🙂

  • Marozia October 15, 2018, 7:26 pm

    “Unable to attend due to prior commitment. Happy birthday and have fun”, is what I would say.

  • staceyizme October 15, 2018, 8:49 pm

    This was once a simple matter of etiquette and consideration: sadly, that is no longer true. The correct forms of many kinds of parties have been marred almost beyond recognition by the passage of time and the failure of many to adhere to these standards. Nowadays, the best that can be managed is to “pass” on invitations that don’t appeal, skip the inner eye roll and move on.

  • Ergala October 16, 2018, 7:25 am

    I haven’t had a party thrown for me in well over 14 or 15 years. My ex didn’t acknowledge it either our entire marriage of 12 years. I don’t get the need for an entire week of celebration. It reminds me of Bilbo Baggins party….

  • Angie in NM October 17, 2018, 12:29 am

    Well, I celebrate my birthday for a week because that is the week I take one of my vacation weeks. I always have because the first week of October usually has nice weather. Not too hot and not cold yet. But the only ones celebrating with me is my husband and our dogs! We just have fun going places and being together.

    I can’t imagine inviting a bunch of people to meet me somewhere, paying their way and asking for gifts too. One of these days, we might have a BBQ with birthday cake but no one would know it was my birthday until they got there. That would keep people from bringing presents.

  • K October 17, 2018, 8:00 pm

    I don’t know; this sounds like fun to me. I already am planning my 50th birthday celebration- a weekend in the city with a group of friends.

  • mm October 18, 2018, 7:02 am

    I don’t know…Some of the commenters here are a little harsh and frankly judgmental. So this woman wants to organize events for her social circle on her birthday. No one is forced to go! Maybe she’s very busy at work and only plans to do recreational activities on her birthday. I wouldn’t ask for gifts, that’s the only thing I don’t care for. But if someone wants to celebrate their birthday, that’s their choice. Just like apparently everyone here chooses to ignore their birthdays because they’re too cool for school.

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