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Author Topic: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations  (Read 13520 times)

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cross_patch

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #45 on: March 07, 2015, 02:43:02 AM »
Does that extend to showers? I never had a baby shower as there wasn't anyone to throw one for me and you can't throw your own. I pondered about it and posted on it on here but I was shouted down as "gift grabby". I wasn't adter gifts, just to celebrates with friends the fact I was having a baby.

You're in Australia aren't you? This is a totally different thing to having a birthday (which obviously most people think in Aus is pretty much totally fine). Because baby showers aren't really a thing here, if you threw your own I would think it was pretty full on tacky, yeah.

sammycat

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #46 on: March 07, 2015, 02:58:36 AM »
I think there is a difference between, "I'm throwing myself a party; pay for yourself and my meal/drinks, and bring an expensive present" and "I'm hosting a party. Just come and have a fun time." When I was visiting a friend in N. Ireland several years ago, she told me we were going to a pub (love real pubs!) for a birthday party a friend was throwing for herself. My first thought was that I hadn't personally been invited and I didn't have a gift. No worries. Gifts were not expected; it didn't have to be said. It was common, at least in that group.
I went and had a great time. Honestly, I am perfectly fine with that; it made sense. There are times I wish we did things the way they do in the UK.

I do get the impression from a lot of posts here that there is a huge difference between the US and the UK on what we consider to be gift giving occasions. The birthday thing largely does come down to what Jaxsue says: we in the UK view a birthday party as 'celebrate with me' not 'celebrate for me'. You're not asking anybody to 'honour' you or 'celebrate' you, if 'celebrate' means 'acknowledge that you've done something clever or admirable'. Once you're past the age of about 8, birthday parties at which guests bring gifts are a thing of the past. Your immediate family might, and a few intimate friends but only the people who would be giving you a gift anyway, whether you had a party or not.

We've also moved past the 'guest of honour' thing. Most parties don't have a guest of honour, or perhaps more accurately, if it has a guest of honour, it isn't a party. As a rule of thumb, if there are no formal speeches, there's no GOH (and even if there are speeches, there needn't be a GOH). If the Queen is at your event, then yes, she's a GOH. If Big Business Boss has come to the annual meeting of your professional association and will be making a speech about Big Business Matter, then he's a GOH. Those are not gift giving events. Even if it's your celebration party and you're making a speech, if the speech is only 'thanks for coming, lovely to see you all' then you are not a GOH.

We don't, for example, generally give gifts for school-leaving, university graduation (your parents might give you a wallet or a piece of jewellery but other relatives or family friends won't), etc. I know that many of the US readers here think that the UK habit of having an Evening Reception after a wedding, which has a larger guest list than the wedding itself and the main reception, is a vulgar B List gift grab. We don't; we view it as an entirely separate party at which gifts are not expected. That's not to say that aren't occasionally given, but the Evening Reception is for a wider circle of friends - yes, possibly the B List, but work colleagues with whom you don't socialise out of work, or your parents' neighbours who are their friends, not the friends of the bride and groom. Many of them won't bring gifts or if they do, they'll be small things - pot plants, small kitchen implements etc. - or, in the case of the work colleagues, a joint gift.

Many of us here, in turn, are totally horrified by the concept of a bridal or baby shower. A party where the entire point is the giving of gifts? I actually do see that as a vulgar gift grab. No matter whether it's thrown by the bride herself, or her mother, or her friends, that invitation says to me 'Bring me things!' Even our children's parties aren't that! The point of the party is to see your friends. If anybody brings you a gift, that's lovely, but it's an extra. We don't expect it, not once we're past primary school age.

I don't care to be told (and I've seen it said on this site) that the way we in the UK manage things is by definition rude - whose definition? - any more than I imagine that you in the US (or Australia, or Denmark, or wherever) would like it. A self-hosted birthday party in the UK is not rude. An Evening Wedding Reception in the UK is not rude. I rather think that in the UK a baby shower is rude - but for those of you living elsewhere, it's not.

Sorry to include such a long quote, but I cannot say strongly enough how much I agree with every point that Free Range Hippy Chick makes. By being so inflexible on this, I'm afraid that our Admin, on this occasion, comes across as being rude herself. Because it is definitively NOT the case in the UK that you are a "guest of honour" (the very concept of a "guest of honour" just seems laughably...I don't know what...egotistical? For a start, you're not a guest, because you're a host. You're not expecting anyone to honour you, because you are hosting, feeding and entertaining them, not the other way round). And as for the idea of expecting a friend to put on a party for you!! That strikes me as the most egotistical, grabby, self-centered idea imaginable. For us, that would be the equivalent of expecting your friends to organise and pay for your wedding. I can 100% say that, with the exception of spouses putting on surprise parties, that would NEVER happen. If Admin wants to think that the reason it would never happen is that no British person is capable of having any friends, or meaningful adult relationsh*ps, well...that speaks volumes.

The whole concept of a "guest of honour" is, I think, very American. And that's fine - that's not rude or egotistical there, just as hosting friends for your birthday is not rude or egotistical here. Just as in the way that we would think the concept of showers is rude and gift-grabby, but can accept that in America, they're not. So to UK eyes, it seems odd to be lectured about being egotistical and gift-grabby by a proponent of an etiquette system that thinks its fine to have parties *with the sole purpose* of showering someone with gifts for no reason other than they happen to be pregnant or getting married. But in America, that's a longstanding tradition with its own etiquette rules, and so isn't rude. But the definition of what is "rude" and what isn't, in this scenario, depends on where you live.

there are certainly ways in which hosting your own celebration might be rude. Mostly that would be if you were expecting there to be gifts (and in some way making that obvious, such as having a registry). Or if you were expecting guests to pay for their own food and/or drink (I mean in a party-hosting scenario, not a group of friends going to a pub or restaurant, which to be honest would be the most common arrangement other than for milestone birthdays). Or, I suppose, if you were expecting guests to "honour" you (its such a foreign concept that I don't even know what that means, actually. We don't have "guests of honour". What does being a guest of honour mean? Do you get speeches made about you? Or sit in a special chair?) If it's your birthday party, you will be running round, cleaning the house, doing the cooking, putting out the food, making sure your guests all have plenty to eat and drink, cleaning up afterwards....I'm not sure where being "honoured" would fit in (and would be *intensely* embarrassing anyway, to your average reserved Brit lol).

I agree with these posts. The Australian view is basically the same as the UK one (although we do have bridal and baby showers here, but they're usually pretty low key and I've never heard of anyone having a registry for one).
« Last Edit: March 07, 2015, 03:51:59 AM by sammycat »

NestHolder

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #47 on: March 07, 2015, 03:42:07 AM »
Free Range Hippy Chick and cb140 are exactly right.  In the UK, and in many other parts of the world, it is absolutely not rude to celebrate your own birthday.  It is certainly not rude to organise and host a party on your own birthday, and nobody who does so imagines him/herself to be the Guest of Honour.   It is, in fact, the custom to treat other people on one's birthday—from having a giant party for all one's friends to buying doughnuts for everyone at the office.

I was astonished and very much angered by a comment the Admin made among the comments to the blog post, which was extremely rude to those of us who do not subscribe to the very particular system she holds as universal.  It is one thing to say 'this is what I believe, and this is my hill to die on', and quite another to condemn the standard practice of most of the rest of the world—including a great many of the participants here.

marcel

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #48 on: March 07, 2015, 07:15:30 AM »
The subject of this thread has come up several times before, and the conclusion is very simple. In US traditional etiquette (maybe Canada as well) it is bad form to host your own party. In (most of) the rest of the world it is the normal thing to do (and often bad form to organize a party for someone else) Luckily for the rest of the world though US etiquette is far from being the global norm, so it is perfectly fine to throw your own birthday party and showers are ver tacky, regardless of who hosts them, if you are not in the US or countries with similar party etiquette.

ISmply put, there are different rules of etiquette in every country/culture, and just because it is different from your culture, does not make it wrong, no matter how tacky it would be in your own culture. I think the biggest problem for those who care about etiquette these days is globalization. People talk to people from all over the world, not just in business settings but just for fun, like we are doing here, all over the internet. People travel more, people see youtube videos and in general people learn more and more about other cultures, and sometimes want to bring those to their own culture. This means that in some areas around here people are trick or treatin on halloween, I have even heard about showers being organised in The Netherlands and in the same way Americans will be copying the habbit of organising your own birthday party.

As for the administrator, in the past she has shown very bad form by saying that it is rude, no matter where it is, thereby showing a complete lack of respect for other cultures and traditions. Her statements on this subject have proven that you can be running a great etiquette site and still not understand etiquette at all. Her statements were the reason why I considered leaving this site, until I realised that there were enough interesting people left on the site and now I know that I can disregard her opinion about etiquette as much as anyone elses, because she can be wrong just as easily. (it is also the reason why I hardly read the blog so had missed the subject so far.)

However I have also come to understand where she is most likely coming from. It is not so much disrespect for other cultures, I think she is showing fear of other cultures getting an influence in her own culture. this fear is what makes her act so rude, because by saying that it is tacky wherever it is done, she can accuse the people who do it in her culture of bing tacky instead of recognizing it as cultural mixing  and being then forced to oppose the cultural mixing that is taking place.

This fear of losing your culture is what we all have to live with though, especially when we grow older in an international world and you can either fight it, or accept it. I have personally chosen to live an international live and embrace the mixing of cultures and etiquette from different places and hope that more people will do this, because by embracing it you can recognise the differences and point them out to people and teach them and enjoy the great traditions of many cultures. While if you fight it you are most likely to become disrespected by the people whose culture you are fighting.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2015, 07:19:11 AM by marcel »
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ArtsyCat

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #49 on: March 07, 2015, 07:36:06 AM »
Thank you Marcel for a great post. You have put the case for cultural differences very well indeed.

In Canada we are tend to fall somewhere between US and British etiquette customs, probably tending more to the British. In addition, Canada is a very multi cultural country and new traditions with their accompanying etiquette are often happily adopted. Many of our new immigrant citizens come from ,or came from, in the past, British Commonwealth countries and bring their own adaptations of British etiquette to add to the mix! In this I think we are quite  similar to Australia and New Zealand.

In my experience it is not rude to host your own birthday get together for friends and family at all.

Rude is hosting any kind of celebration to honour yourself in an obvious arrogant, gift grabby manner. Some members of my immediate family are pros at this! Those shocking tales of etiquette violations by anybody's standards, anywhere in the known universe, are for another post.



"You can't get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough, to suit me."  C.S. Lewis

Sharnita

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #50 on: March 07, 2015, 07:58:24 AM »
Does that extend to showers? I never had a baby shower as there wasn't anyone to throw one for me and you can't throw your own. I pondered about it and posted on it on here but I was shouted down as "gift grabby". I wasn't adter gifts, just to celebrates with friends the fact I was having a baby.

The problem is with calling it a "shower". A party by that name definitely sends the message that a gift is expected. I think a kids' birthday party tends to be a traditional gift giving event, as well. An adult self-organized birthday party does not seem to carry the same obligation.

thedudeabides

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #51 on: March 07, 2015, 09:24:56 AM »
I would actually say the that the admin's stance on this topic is not remotely reflective of American etiquette or the American POV. In fact, it's so far from the norm and from accepted standards that it makes me wonder where the admin's clear loathing of birthday parties came from. Being the "guest of honor" in normal circles simply means that preference of activities/food/drink/location of the birthday person is taken into account first.

For my 30th birthday party, I invited friends to a party at a local rock-climbing facility. My girlfriend and I paid for everyone, and I focused my invites to friends who I knew enjoy that sort of thing. A couple of people brought small gifts, but it wasn't a big deal. It was about having fun together doing something I enjoy with people I like. My girlfriend opted for a trampoline party for her 30th. Same deal where we paid. That or a dinner out at the birthday person's choice of restaurant where people chip in to cover his or her tab are the norm in most social circles in the US. I guess we're just all cretins.

HannahGrace

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #52 on: March 07, 2015, 09:54:00 AM »
I would actually say the that the admin's stance on this topic is not remotely reflective of American etiquette or the American POV. In fact, it's so far from the norm and from accepted standards that it makes me wonder where the admin's clear loathing of birthday parties came from. Being the "guest of honor" in normal circles simply means that preference of activities/food/drink/location of the birthday person is taken into account first.

For my 30th birthday party, I invited friends to a party at a local rock-climbing facility. My girlfriend and I paid for everyone, and I focused my invites to friends who I knew enjoy that sort of thing. A couple of people brought small gifts, but it wasn't a big deal. It was about having fun together doing something I enjoy with people I like. My girlfriend opted for a trampoline party for her 30th. Same deal where we paid. That or a dinner out at the birthday person's choice of restaurant where people chip in to cover his or her tab are the norm in most social circles in the US. I guess we're just all cretins.

Your experience is the same as mine. I've lived in a few different parts of the US and what you describe above has been the accepted norm.

#borecore

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #53 on: March 07, 2015, 09:55:26 AM »
I agree that the so-called American standard isn't my conception of the norm, at all. In fact, I find the idea that one's friends would ever think to throw one a party to be the more self-absorbed or entitled option. My friends (and then-fiance) did it for me once, but if I had hinted in any way that it was an expectation or the proper thing for them to do, I would have been the rude one.

It's expected and normal to gather  your loved ones about for your special occasions, and that includes birthdays.

We would have a lot less fun if we always sat around waiting for others to honor us.

(As an aside, the only (very few) people who get me birthday gifts don't do so because there's a party. Party does not equal gift-giving occasion.)

AnnaJ

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #54 on: March 07, 2015, 10:23:34 AM »
I would actually say the that the admin's stance on this topic is not remotely reflective of American etiquette or the American POV. In fact, it's so far from the norm and from accepted standards that it makes me wonder where the admin's clear loathing of birthday parties came from. Being the "guest of honor" in normal circles simply means that preference of activities/food/drink/location of the birthday person is taken into account first.

For my 30th birthday party, I invited friends to a party at a local rock-climbing facility. My girlfriend and I paid for everyone, and I focused my invites to friends who I knew enjoy that sort of thing. A couple of people brought small gifts, but it wasn't a big deal. It was about having fun together doing something I enjoy with people I like. My girlfriend opted for a trampoline party for her 30th. Same deal where we paid. That or a dinner out at the birthday person's choice of restaurant where people chip in to cover his or her tab are the norm in most social circles in the US. I guess we're just all cretins.

Your experience is the same as mine. I've lived in a few different parts of the US and what you describe above has been the accepted norm.

This is my experience also.

jaxsue

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #55 on: March 07, 2015, 11:26:15 AM »
Free Range Hippy Chick and cb140 are exactly right.  In the UK, and in many other parts of the world, it is absolutely not rude to celebrate your own birthday.  It is certainly not rude to organise and host a party on your own birthday, and nobody who does so imagines him/herself to be the Guest of Honour.   It is, in fact, the custom to treat other people on one's birthday—from having a giant party for all one's friends to buying doughnuts for everyone at the office.

I was astonished and very much angered by a comment the Admin made among the comments to the blog post, which was extremely rude to those of us who do not subscribe to the very particular system she holds as universal.  It is one thing to say 'this is what I believe, and this is my hill to die on', and quite another to condemn the standard practice of most of the rest of the world—including a great many of the participants here.

I'm in the US, but I agree with you. The "gift-grab" culture has gotten out of hand in the US (IME). It's very different from what happens, in general, in the UK and Australia. This is one area where I'm more comfortable with the way you guys do it.

jaxsue

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #56 on: March 07, 2015, 11:28:46 AM »
Thank you Marcel for a great post. You have put the case for cultural differences very well indeed.

In Canada we are tend to fall somewhere between US and British etiquette customs, probably tending more to the British. In addition, Canada is a very multi cultural country and new traditions with their accompanying etiquette are often happily adopted. Many of our new immigrant citizens come from ,or came from, in the past, British Commonwealth countries and bring their own adaptations of British etiquette to add to the mix! In this I think we are quite  similar to Australia and New Zealand.

In my experience it is not rude to host your own birthday get together for friends and family at all.

Rude is hosting any kind of celebration to honour yourself in an obvious arrogant, gift grabby manner. Some members of my immediate family are pros at this! Those shocking tales of etiquette violations by anybody's standards, anywhere in the known universe, are for another post.

Per the bolded: this may be why I feel comfortable - more so - with the UK way of doing this (and other things). I have dual-citizenship and was raised by Anglo-Canadian parents, so there was a lot of influence from that, even though I grew up in the US.

mlogica

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #57 on: March 07, 2015, 11:43:22 AM »
In Canada we are tend to fall somewhere between US and British etiquette customs, probably tending more to the British. In addition, Canada is a very multi cultural country and new traditions with their accompanying etiquette are often happily adopted. Many of our new immigrant citizens come from ,or came from, in the past, British Commonwealth countries and bring their own adaptations of British etiquette to add to the mix! In this I think we are quite  similar to Australia and New Zealand.

In my experience it is not rude to host your own birthday get together for friends and family at all.

I'm also Canadian, and agree with this.

mlogica

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #58 on: March 07, 2015, 11:52:31 AM »
I was thinking about this thread, and I realise that part of the reason I don't really understand why the self-hosted, non-gift grabby birthday parties are a problem is because in my experience they really are pretty much the same as a non-birthday party.

When I was a kid, birthday parties were all about the birthday.  You went to someone's house and you did things in a way that was different from other times you might be there.  You were absolutely expected to bring a gift.  The parents would organize special group games.  There were prizes.  There was time set aside for public gift opening. There was a birthday cake, and that was a big part of the day.  You got sent home with a "goody" bag that had some kind of special candy and maybe an extra piece of cake.  The whole thing was about the birthday.

As an adult, I find that for most people who host a birthday party, the birthday is simply a reason to have a party.  When you arrive, you make a point of saying "Happy birthday".  There might be a few birthday decorations visible, but usually not.  There is often a cake and a few minutes are spent in blowing out the candles and singing Happy Birthday.  That's pretty much it for the birthday focus.  The rest of the time is spent talking, playing games, dancing...whatever usually happens at parties given by that particular social group.  It's just another fun time.  If there are gifts, they are given discreetly and rarely are they opened in front of everyone.  For the life of me, I can't see the etiquette violation here.

nyarlathotep

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Re: Self-hosting adult birthday celebrations
« Reply #59 on: March 07, 2015, 12:03:35 PM »
I would actually say the that the admin's stance on this topic is not remotely reflective of American etiquette or the American POV. In fact, it's so far from the norm and from accepted standards that it makes me wonder where the admin's clear loathing of birthday parties came from. Being the "guest of honor" in normal circles simply means that preference of activities/food/drink/location of the birthday person is taken into account first.

For my 30th birthday party, I invited friends to a party at a local rock-climbing facility. My girlfriend and I paid for everyone, and I focused my invites to friends who I knew enjoy that sort of thing. A couple of people brought small gifts, but it wasn't a big deal. It was about having fun together doing something I enjoy with people I like. My girlfriend opted for a trampoline party for her 30th. Same deal where we paid. That or a dinner out at the birthday person's choice of restaurant where people chip in to cover his or her tab are the norm in most social circles in the US. I guess we're just all cretins.

Is it possible that this is a class/area thing? It strikes me that having the ability to host someone else's birthday party, or the expectation that guests will not pay for their own meals etc, depends largely on money. Is the "don't hold your own party" thing maybe exclusive to people with more affluent backgrounds?


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