makes me glad that my friends still prefer to have their fabulous drinking parties at their homes to celebrate any and all occasions. I have, can, and will take my friends out for their birthdays but its usually one-on-one or as a double date (me, DH, friend, and friend's SO). My friends cannot do the same for me, financially, and I know and understand that. My birthday rotates between being an at-home party and something private with DH (our birthdays are 2 weeks apart; every year one of us gets a party, the other gets private dinner/event and we rotate every year)
Most recently, DH and I met up with FIL, SMIL, step-bro, and step-sis for SMIL's birthday. We knew we were going to dinner, but only as of lunchtime that same day. DH and I covered SMIL's meal, leaving FIL to only need to cover his own and his step-children. This still falls into what I'm willing to do - cover my food and that of the person we're celebrating. If someone else wants to help cover the celebrant's bill, I'll split it with them, but I am NOT just going to split the entire bill among people.