I'm sorry I have not returned to address this thread in a few days. I hosted our largest annual party last weekend and prep took much longer than expected. As I have said before, my real life trumps forum "life" every time and my delay in responding in no way reflects a capitulation or abandonment of my opinions.
Now, let's get down to business (cracks her knuckles...)
Point 1: Did anyone notice that the OP never mentioned the country of her origin yet within the first page of replies several European members (and sadly mislead US members) encourage her to go right ahead and host her own party without any caveats that while this might be acceptable in their native country, it is not acceptable in the context of US etiquette? Yet as the thread progresses, there is an insistence that I qualify my etiquette opinions as being solely applicable to US standards. It has been stated before and bears repeating: I am a resident of the US, the server is hosted in the US, this site is targeted to citizens of the US.
The server stats bear this out. 90% of all hits on the domain www.etiquettehell.com
are from USA networks whereas 10% comes from outside the US:
2.13% United Kingdom
.53 Russian Federation
.43% New Zealand
with 123 other countries sharing a tiny 1.06% of the pie.
My target audiences are USAians and the etiquette that has and will continue to come out of this site will reflect traditional USA etiquette values and standards.
Point 2: The characterization that I am dismissive of all European culture is a strawman debate fallacy based on setting up this one difference of opinion on a relatively minor etiquette issue and knocking it down as proof of a broad ranging dismissal of ALL European culture and etiquette.
Point 3: It did not escape my notice just what exactly our European members said about their on country's birthday party hosting. It started with Sycorax's simply stated, terse and clear explanation:
Sycorax: In my part of the world (Germany) everyone is throwing one's own birthday party. If we'd wait for our friends to give a birthday party for us we'd never get one. And so here it's even normal that you get gifts on the birthday party you throw for yourself.
And in rapid success, four more affirmed the simple statement:
Jadegirl : It's the same here in Australia
MariaE And in both Denmark and New Zealand.
MrsO And England!
SamInTheShadows And Holland.
It doesn't take a genius in English grammar to parse Sycorax's two sentences...they don't get a birthday party if they didn't host it themselves and gifts ARE a part of this party one hosts for oneself. It cannot be parsed to be understood any other way so we the readers have no choice but to conclude these five people meant what they said and said what they meant. If I then apply the questions I mentioned in a previous post, this is what we must conclude:
Who am I serving by this? Well, the answer is obvious - YOU! You get a party no one else could be bothered to host.
What do I get out of this? A party for YOU! And gifts for YOU!
Have I done this for others? Of course not! Because it's all about making sure your own birthday is celebrated. To Ehell with everyone else.
Epic Fail, at least by Ehell standards.
Someone posted that hosting her own birthday party does serve her guests according to the Ehell criteria. I've read some pretty creative claims over the years that guests really are being served by a faux pas. Money dancing, for instance. "I'm serving my guests who want to have a dance with me/want to give me money but can't figure out how to do it. What I get out of it is the satisfaction of giving my guests the chance to dance with me and not be awkward in handing me money." And on and on. If we were truly then serving our guests in this manner, we'd put ATM machines in the reception venue to facilitate their ease in gift giving. Sorry, it doesn't fly with the money dancers and it isn't going to fly with the self-hosted birthday party people either.
Point 4: MarieE quoted a long dead Danish etiquette maven in this post http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=68151.msg1601950#msg1601950
yet she dismisses some of the 1918
etiquette as "outdated". The irony is that she doesn't seem to include the tiny snippet about gentlemen having a few friends over for a meal as outdated either. The further irony is that what she considered the"outdated" part, I would have agreed is a more sensible and hospitable manner of celebrating a birthday, that is that friends and family all know when your birthday is and it is customary for them to stop by during a customary time frame to express their well wishes. The good host/ess then offers refreshments. That, to me, is not a party. It is friends and family choosing of their own initiative to journey to your home to extend congratulations on making yet another yearly milestone. In today's electronic culture, we express those well wishes with posts to Facebook walls instead of getting off our lazy backsides, traveling and actually having face to face communication with the birthday person.
Marcel did a good job researching and quoting several Dutch alleged etiquette experts or sources. However, there are prominent US etiquette gurus with books piled high whose opinions on several etiquette issues I wouldn't trust at all and which I vehemently oppose. Carly Roney, founder and CEO of The Knot.com, is one such person. Carly Roney has advocated gift giving for engagement parties ( http://video.filestube.com/video,525bc4a05458a23603e9.html
) and asking for charitable donations instead of gifts (http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2006-07/2006-07-17-voa59.cfm?CFID=323094231&CFTOKEN=50274497&jsessionid=de30d06aabe81c9221d329313d6a2e3e6353
). Anything Roney advocates as permissible regarding gift registries must be viewed with suspicion. Why? Because TheKnot.com is also the world's largest online gift registry. Roney has a vested financial interest in promoting registries and expanding the gift giving (grubbing) occasions associated with a wedding. It's etiquette advice delivered with a mixed motive of profiting from the dispersal of that advice. (The Knot.com's partnering with Evite.com is the subject of a whole other thread.)
Even Jeanne Phillips, daughter of Dear Abby founder Abigail Van Buren and the current "Dear Abby", goofed up once by offering a silly poem for someone to include in an invitation to solicit money gifts. Jeanne! Jeanne! How could you have brought such reproach on that name!
Point 5: To those of you who give the reasoning for hosting your own birthday celebrations as an "excuse to get together and have fun with friends", what about the other 51 weekends of the year to also do this? I must be from a different generation because the only excuse I or my friends need to get together and have some fun is because we enjoy each others' company. Even 25 years ago I and my merry band of similarly aged, new mom friends would spontaneously arrange to go out at night for drinks and desserts and laugh ourselves sick.
Point 6: If it didn't matter to you about being the guest of honor, you would not go to trouble to mention to people that it is your birthday and therefore some sort of celebration arrangements will be forthcoming. Simply plan a get-together and say nothing.
Point 7: Those making a big deal about bridal showers and bridesmaids dresses must not have read any of my books. My brides in real life typically do buy the bridesmaids dresses with the stated understanding to their attendants that if they do so, the bride then owns that dress to with as she wishes. Bridal showers are gift grubbing events when orchestrated or planned in any way by the recipient/guest of honor of the shower or her family. If friends choose to initiate the giving of gifts via a shower, more power to them for wanting to bless a friend. That hasn't changed in the 13+ years Ehell has been in existence and it goes back even farther via Emily Post et al so I'm not sure why this is presented as some reprehensible US etiquette custom. There seems to be a failure to understand the concept of who initiates the honoring, the gift giving, etc. Short rule: If you initiate to honor yourself/get gifts, that's bad. If you initiate to honor someone else, shower them with gifts out of generosity, that's good.
This thread will not re-open. The same dozen or so posters have had 300 posts and 21 pages to express their opinions, I have two posts. Someone bookmark this post please.