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The Baby Shower That Came With A Bill

Last year I was invited to a “gift card” baby shower. According to the emailed invitation, it was hosted by the daddy-to-be’s sister and the mother-to-be’s friend at a modestly priced restaurant over the brunch hour.

There were about 15 of us in total, including the guest of honour, and the baby’s two grandmothers. We were seated at a series of pushed together tables at the back of the restaurant, but not in a private section, so lots of other patrons around us. The cards and little bags we brought were put into a corner for safety and not acknowledged at all. There were three tiny balloons on little stands on top of the set of tables as “decoration”.

We all ordered our breakfasts from the regular menu and basically just chatted for about an hour or so. No games, no special menu, no speech from the mother-to-be, nothing at all.

At the end of the meal, the waitress came around and handed out individual bills for each of us. My jaw probably hit the floor at that point, but what could I do? At that point in time, the two grandmothers “fought” over the mother-to-be’s bill because she had also been presented with a bill! I quietly paid for my breakfast, wished the mother-to-be luck and left.

What could I have done? I definitely feel like a bait and switch had been pulled on me. When an event is hosted, doesn’t that mean that they are paying for the guests to eat? Had I known I would have been paying my own way I would have declined, or at least decreased the dollar amount of my very generous gift card. 0324-15

I hate to say it but in this day and age, I think it is wise to presume people are rude boors and go prepared to pay your own way.    If the hosts actually pay for the meals, it will be a delightful and unusual surprise.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Izzley March 30, 2015, 4:56 pm

    If anyone invites me to a restaurant for something, I assume I’m going to pay my way.

  • clairedelune March 30, 2015, 5:07 pm

    Agreed with Admin…I would never “host” a party and ask my “guests” to pay–whether at a restaurant or anywhere else–but I’ve been in OP’s situation more than once, so I don’t accept such invitations unless I know I can afford to pay if a bill is put in front of me.

  • monkeys mommy March 30, 2015, 5:22 pm

    Actually, maybe I am in the minority here, but I would have expected to pay. Unless you are in a private dining room with food already prepared for the group, such as sandwich or appetizer trays, it is pretty much a given that you are buying your own food.

    When I was pregnant with my last child a few years ago, my work colleagues did the same. We had three tables pulled together at a restaurant and everything paid for their own food, except for me. I’ve seen this many other times also.

    Maybe it should have been better communicated to you. Or the waitress should have asked how to divide the checks up front- that’s usually a big clue. But I really don’t think its a big deal, or makes the family gimmie piggish.

    • K March 31, 2015, 3:59 am

      Of course that family’s gimme-piggish. Not only did they throw a party purely to get the MTB gifts (ok, since baby shower), but they also expected people to buy their own food while doing it. “Ooh, you mean I can pay for my food AND buy a gift? Wow, thanks! What a privilege!”

      I would be so ashamed if anyone used my baby to treat my friends like that. I would feel I looked like a greedy, grasping, selfish princess.

      • Lacey March 31, 2015, 10:14 am

        Exactly. People have to think about it this way: if you’re hosting a party that is really solely to get gifts, and you’re not offering people anything in the way of hospitality (food, drink), exactly what are your guests getting out of this? I would also expect to pay my own way, but only because, like the Admin said, most people are really rude when it comes to this sort of thing. I would never do it.

      • Goldie March 31, 2015, 10:40 am

        I once got an invite in the mail, from a family member who lived 2-3 hours away, to their baby’s first birthday party. I’m not terribly close with that part of my family, but my parents were, and provided the details. The guests (who all lived in our area) were expected to drive the 2-3 hours one way, and pay for their own meal. The party was at a buffet-style restaurant. Birthday baby’s mom told the guests that she prefers cash. I sent my regrets instead. My parents bowed out of this ridiculous “party” as well.

      • JeanLouiseFinch April 1, 2015, 8:10 am

        I wish there was a “like” button for your post.

      • Monkeys mommy April 1, 2015, 11:19 am

        Sorry, but I don’t agree. I certainly was a greedy princess, but thank you for that conparison, I will buy a tiara.

        In all seriousness, that is done often where I am from, in the Southeastern US. People want to gift the new mom or new bride, and do not mind doing it over dinner. So, I’m sticking with my opinion.

        • tanya April 4, 2015, 10:59 pm

          Doing it over dinner is different than having to pay for your own dinner. At a hosted event unless otherwise specified you are a guest and the hosts pay. In the southern US or otherwise.

          Also part of the problem is that they basically used friends and family. Giftcards vs something fun or useful for baby, no talk of baby or baby fun, and then the biggest insult having to buy your own meal. It screams of gimme pigism. It doesn’t sound like they did because a baby was to be born and to celebrate at all.

        • Vrinda August 13, 2015, 9:50 am

          Monkey’s Mommy, why don’t you ask your baby shower guests to by one?

          • Vrinda August 13, 2015, 9:51 am

            Type-o: “buy” not “by”

    • Saucygirl March 31, 2015, 6:25 am

      But how would you know if it will be a private dining room with food laid out vs common tables and menu ordering before you go?

      I think the work colleague thing is different. Years ago, when I was pregnant with my first and only, my boss and a coworker hosted a beautiful shower for me at my bosses house, for all my coworkers.

      One of those coworkers was also pregnant, with her second same sex kid in under three years. The coworkers had held a shower for her during her first pregnancy. Etiquette says a second shower shouldn’t happen. But everyone (including me) felt kind of guilty celebrating my pregnancy and essentially ignoring hers. So as a group we decided to do a workday lunch “shower”, where we all paid our own way and gave her gifts.

      But we, and I’m assuming your coworkers, made that decision for ourselves. That is totally different then what happened to the op. She was an invited guest, not one of 10 hosts. So I agree with admin, hosts were rude gimme pigs.

    • babs March 31, 2015, 9:03 am

      I agree with Saucygirl. A work related shower is completely and totally different from this example that was hosted by friends and there was no “heads up” that the guests would be paying for their own meal. You wouldn’t expect one or two coworkers to carry the burden of feeding the entire office. In that case, the office staff is throwing the shower and it is understood that everyone shares. In my opinion, this doesn’t compare to what the OP experienced.

  • Willynilly March 30, 2015, 5:26 pm

    OP, yes the hosts *should* have paid for your meal in order to qualify as “hosts” and the event to qualify as a “party”. What you were invited to was an “organized” “group outing”.

    I would have been mortified if I were the guest of honor at such an event! And the organizers and guests were lucky everyone had the funds available to cover their meal!

  • Jewel March 30, 2015, 5:34 pm

    Let me guess: you either didn’t receive a thank you note for your gift to the honoree or it was way late or it was a pre-printed poem?

    • Bellyjean March 31, 2015, 8:25 am

      But… a pre-printed poem saves time for the poor, dear mother-to-be, ahahahaha. j/k 😉

      • Marozia March 31, 2015, 3:33 pm

        Especially when the poem begs for money.

  • Jess March 30, 2015, 5:59 pm

    I’m five months pregnant, and I have to say this kind of do sounds ideal to me!

    Obviously it should have been made clearer from the onset whether invitees are being hosted at the hosts’ expense or are paying their own bills, but minimal decorations, NO GAMES, and the chance to hang out and chat with friends and family? Lovely!

    • catherine March 31, 2015, 12:25 am

      ” but minimal decorations, NO GAMES, and the chance to hang out and chat with friends and family? Lovely!”
      That how my wedding and baby showers were that were put on by my friends. They knew how much I hated shower games and a lot of fuss, but they did prepare food and drinks (no charge 😉 and they were perfect and we all had a great time.

    • Skaramouche March 31, 2015, 10:16 am

      It’s not a question of it “being clear”. If you are hosting a shower, you pay for the food and entertainment. It definitely doesn’t have to be at a restaurant if you don’t want it to be. I can completely understand your minimalist sentiments, especially when the end result is more time spent with friends. However, it is unconscionable to 1) tell guests what gift to bring 2) make them pay for their own food.

    • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 5:37 am

      So, what you want is a simple shower, with the entertainment being lively discussions amongst friends. Sounds great!

      Still, a proper host should actually “host,” by providing the refreshments, even if there are no decorations or other entertainment to provide, as well.

    • Sam April 2, 2015, 6:27 pm

      It sounds pretty rude, actually. Think about it. The expectation of a shower guest, by definition, is to bring gifts for the guest of honor. The expectation of the host is to. . .actually host something. This means that the host doesn’t provide any refreshments, entertainment of any kind, just tells people where to come bring the gifts.

      • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 7:51 pm

        Refreshments of some sort or other are still a requirement, yes. However, if the entertainment is simply to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company in good conversation, that can be quite charming, and not at all rude. The host does have an obligation to remain actively engaged in the conversation, to keep it going and steer it off of uncomfortable topics, as well as make sure that those who are shy are either drawn into the conversation (if it’s not painful for them), or else are otherwise entertained (if it would be too shy for them), and so that each guest feels a part and appreciated.

        Some of the most enjoyable parties I’ve ever attended were quite simple, with cake or cookies, milk, juice, even just water when the host was stoney broke, but really GOOD conversation. And when the stoney-broke guests offered gifts of coupons for free baby-sitting, I assure you, they were accepted with much gratitude.

    • tanya April 4, 2015, 11:01 pm

      I’m not sure how that’s a shower though. More like getting together with friends and family while pregnant.

  • Justine March 30, 2015, 5:59 pm

    That is awful! I hope there were a lot of shocked faces around that table and maybe something sunk in. I am surprised the grandmothers went a long with that. Lesson learned: I am guessing there will probably be a shower for all other babies to come, so beware!

  • mark2 March 30, 2015, 6:06 pm

    I have never, ever, not once, been invited out to a restaurant for a birthday/shower/anniversary that I did not have to pay for myself. After setting the example myself several times by inviting people out to eat for birthdays and then me picking up the tab, I found that not one of them ever reciprocated. So I stopped doing it.

    • Skaramouche March 31, 2015, 8:42 am

      Yes, doesn’t this make you sad? I feel the same way you do. When I feel absolutely compelled to hold an event at a restaurant, I do still pay but in general, I try to avoid this and pick a venue where I can cater/cook myself and control costs.

  • Susan Purcell March 30, 2015, 7:24 pm

    Yes it is rude to give you a bill. The hostess picks up the tab. Gosh not even acknowledging gifts. Nothing left to do but pay. I hope you got a thank
    You note. I like showers and to see the gifts. Not much of a party.

    • Abby March 31, 2015, 7:19 am

      In all fairness, the “theme” of the shower was gift cards. I mean, she could have opened them in front of everyone, but how exciting is it to watch someone open 15 Target or Babies R Us cards? This whole event was tacky from the minute the invitations went out.

      • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 5:39 am

        Sometimes the gift cards are enclosed in cute, sweet, or funny greeting cards, and those could have been read aloud and displayed, at the very least. And the honoree could have taken the time to say, “Oh, how sweet! Now I have enough to get that buggy I’ve been wanting. THANK YOU.”

  • Mary Bernard March 30, 2015, 7:26 pm

    “What could I have done? I definitely feel like a bait and switch had been pulled on me.”

    It definitely was a bait and switch. And Daddy’s sister and mother’s friend were probably very pleased with themselves for “hosting” a baby shower without having to spend even one penny (except for their own meals). I guess you should be thankful that you weren’t asked to chip in for the mother-to-be’s meal.

    I don’t know what else you could have done, unless you told the “hosts” that you didn’t realize that you would have to pay for your meal, and you didn’t have any cash or credit cards or your checkbook on you. It doesn’t appear from the story that anyone at the shower claimed not to have any money. If no one said anything, for all we know, the mother-to-be assumed that everyone at the shower knew ahead of time that everyone would have to pay for their own meal.

  • Michelle C Young March 30, 2015, 8:30 pm

    This reminds me of some advice my father gave me when I reached the age to date.

    He said I should always bring emergency money with me on a date – enough to pay for the whole thing, and enough for a taxi home. That way, he said, if the guy turned out to be a jerk, who thought that giving me dinner meant I owed him sex, I could pay for my meal, and even his if I felt threatened, and take a taxi home. He then said I should be careful about which invitations I accepted, and that “If you can’t afford to pay for the whole thing, you can’t afford that date.”

    Sad, but it’s a good safety measure, and although this sort of surprise seems to be more and more common, at least I was well-prepared for it, and always order what I know I can afford, myself. It has put a slight damper on my social life, but then again, if I turn down an invitation because, “I’m afraid that’s just not in my budget,” people are forced to either accept it or else declare positively that it is their treat. And if they promise the treat, and then renege on that promise, that is the END. So it hasn’t happened often.

    • just4kicks March 31, 2015, 3:32 am

      @Michelle C Young: Many years ago when I lived with my folks, working part time and attending college, my folks had a company installing central air in our house.
      One of the workmen was about my age, and on the last day they were there, he asked me out.
      I was very flattered and said yes.
      The night of our date, I got ready and went to kiss my folks goodbye.
      My dad said, “What time is “Bill” picking you up?”
      I said, “He’s not…I’m driving myself in my own car.”
      My dad was upset that “Bill” offered to pick me up, but I told him I’d meet him at the restaurant.
      Like…REALLY upset!
      I said something to the effect of, I don’t know Bill, what if after dinner he “expects payment”….And not monetary payment?!?
      I want to be able to hop in my car and leave should he end up being a jerk, which he didn’t, he was a perfect gentleman.
      When I got home from (our first and last) date, my dad apologized to me, and said he hadn’t thought of it THAT way, and was proud of me for protecting myself and having an “out” plan.

      Funny story though: Over dinner, Bill mentioned how nice my folks are and what a “funny, funny guy” my pop is.
      I asked why is my dad a “funny, funny guy”?
      “Because he brought out a framed picture of you and said “this is my daughter! Isn’t she beautiful? She’s SINGLE TOO!!!”
      Oh. My. God.
      I know my dad had the best intentions, and I didn’t have the best dating track record, but I was so embarrassed, I wanted to hide under the table.
      Upon arriving home, I half jokingly yelled at my dad for chasing this guy around the house with my photo!!!!
      My mom goes, “Oh…your dad would NEVER do such a thing!!! ……Would you John?……John???….JOHN!!!! YOU DIDN’T!!!

      • NostalgicGal March 31, 2015, 1:48 pm

        Thank you! I needed a laugh. I enjoyed this thoroughly….

        • just4kicks April 1, 2015, 3:58 am

          @NostalgicGal: Thanks, glad you a chuckle out of my (very long, sorry!) story. 🙂
          That is one of the many stories my kids ask their grandparents to tell when we are reminiscing.
          I was horrified, and I think “Bill” only asked me out because he was afraid of my Dad!

      • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 5:47 am

        Oh, that made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

        Also, I totally agree on the first-date safety issues. Having the man pick you up is old-fashioned and charming, if you are charmed by old-fashioned, but if you’re new in the relationship (as in, not dating an old friend), and you can’t be sure how he’ll behave, having a safe way out is definitely a good idea!

        It also is a means of telling if he’s a generous sort. I once went on a date with a guy, and we agreed to meet “halfway.” Yeah, right. It took me more than an hour to get there, and it took him less than fifteen minutes. Not at all generous, or even equitable. So that was one strike against him. Second strike was when it turned out to be a party for his friend’s kid. To be fair, he warned me, so I bought a gift for the child. I ASSUMED that since he had invited me to join him at this party that he had cleared it with the child’s parents. Whoops. They were gracious, but it was clear I was an unexpected guest. When he canceled the movie portion of the date, because he suddenly had a desperate need to buy new tires, or something, I was ticked off, yet relieved, because this relationship was clearly going nowhere, and now, at least, I could be sure to watch the movie *I* wanted to see, rather than the one he had chosen when he invited me.

        This whole date fiasco was set up by my father, by the way. That was the last time he set me up on a date.

    • AS March 31, 2015, 6:40 am

      @Michelle Young: I don’t think that a man not paying for the woman during a date is a fair comparison for a host not paying for the guests. In a date, no one is exactly a “host” or a “guest”. It is two people who decide to meet up at a restaurant. The reason men used to pay was because women didn’t work back in the day, and hence, men had the money. It was also essential to know if a man could meet the economic requirements for getting married, and paying for the lady’s meal was the first step towards it. I know that a lot of people do expect men to pay for a date, but I’ll not brand a man a boor if he doesn’t.

      I am one of those people who insisted on paying for my own meal during the first few dates. I wanted to make an unbiased decision about my life-partner, and if he paid for me on an earlier date, I felt that I had strings attached that could affect my decision. If a man felt “threatened” by my ability to pay for myself, he’s anyway not the kind of man I wanted to be with – so that was a desirable side-effect.

      • Dee March 31, 2015, 11:21 am

        With regard to dates, whoever does the inviting pays the bill. Doesn’t matter if it’s a man, woman or hermaphrodite. As it does seem to be common for the man to do the inviting then, yes, he ends up being the one paying more often. If a (platonic) friend invites another friend to a outing the same thing applies. And such invites should be reciprocated, so if a woman is polite she will make sure she does some of the inviting (and paying), too.

      • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 5:55 am

        According to Miss Manners, the one who does the inviting pays the bill. In the old days, when a lady could not pay for a date, but she wished to reciprocate, she could invite the man to her home, or a picnic, or if she were given tickets to an event, she could offer to share with him. In any event, she hosted him, in some way or other, even if it was only to invite him for a walk in the park, because that was all she could do.

        I have invited men out on dates, and made it clear that I would be paying, because I did the inviting.

        In my opinion, if it’s just two people who decide to meet up at a restaurant, it’s not a date; it’s a meet-up, and there was no invitation, so much as an agreement to hang out for a while. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, so long as everyone is clear.

        I completely agree with you, however, that any man threatened by your ability to or assurance in paying for yourself is not the kind of man you want, and “Going Dutch” (In Holland, they call it “Going American.” LOL) is a good way to sort those types of people out.

    • Skaramouche March 31, 2015, 8:40 am

      What fabulous advice from your father!

      • Enna April 2, 2015, 12:03 pm

        There is some good advice about dating. I think it is always best to take the cost of the meal with you just in case – whether it is a date or a party of some sort.

    • AthenaC March 31, 2015, 8:49 am

      That is excellent advice!

    • Ergala March 31, 2015, 11:43 am

      EXCELLENT advice!
      When I was 19 I went on a blind date, the guy was supposed to pick me up. We had exchanged photos and talked on the phone, he seemed really awesome and I was attracted to what I had “seen” so far in terms of personality and appearance. He showed up that evening to pick me up at my parent’s house and boy was I in for a shock. He wasn’t 25 as he had claimed, he was 49. He looked NOTHING like his photo either. Instead of being an in shape and a little taller than me he was my height and morbidly obese and balding. He also had piercings and other things that had never come up in conversation. I don’t want to sound shallow but he was NOT what he had said he was at all and that immediately turned me off.

      Now me being the stupid 19 year old I was, I went on the date thinking maybe he had a valid reason for lying to me. We went to a moderately price place to eat and I had brought enough money to pay for me. He INSISTED on paying for mine and actually grabbed the check when it came for me and paid it. Then he wanted to drive around and chat to which I said I was tired and wanted to go home. Thankfully he brought me home without too much argument. Imagine my horror when he called me up a few days later asking me for a follow up date. I told him no and I explained why I was saying no. He had lied to me and wasn’t very respectful of my decision to pay my own bill. He then told me I owed him a second date since he had paid for my dinner. I hung up.

      • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 5:58 am

        OH, I HATE liars! And besides, what’s the point? What is the point of mis-representing yourself, just before you meet someone you hope to date? Do these people think we won’t notice? That we won’t care that the people were so untrustworthy? That we’re going to trust them, for anything, in the future?

        I’m not sure what’s worse – the dishonesty or the stupidity.

        Either way, that’s a deal-breaker for me.

        • just4kicks April 2, 2015, 10:48 am

          When I was in my 20’s, one of my mom’s friends asked if I was seeing anyone, because her son had “just gotten out of a relationship”, and would I like to go out on a date with him?
          She was a lovely woman who I had known casually through my mom and thought “why not?” expecting a man somewhat close to my own age.
          He called me up and we decided to meet for a drink that weekend.
          I told him what I looked like, and that I would be wearing a certain color sweater.
          While I’m waiting, I see a fifty something, short, balding man come into the bar area and look around….thinking he was meeting someone else, I didn’t get up.
          After a few minutes he came over and asked if I was “K”?
          I said “yes, I am. Are you “Joe”….Betty’ s son?”
          He looked me up and down, and slumped into the chair next to me, and said miserably, “Yes….I am…..you can go now…..”
          We had a very quick drink, and forced conversation, and I beat it out of there.
          When I went home, my mom said how did it go?
          Not well….And he was older than Dad! What the hell was Betty thinking?!?
          Apparently Betty had four son’s, and this guy was the oldest son who had just ended a twenty year marriage.
          My mom assumed Betty meant her youngest son, who was in his early 30’s.
          Goes to show, don’t assume…..

          • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 7:56 pm

            “You can go now”? Whaaaa? Good grief, what an abysmal lack of tact.

            Even if romance wasn’t in the cards between you, you could have been a good friend, but he completely dismissed the idea. What a pity.

            Also, I wonder how Betty described you to him. I have a feeling she was making a mess on both sides.

          • NostalgicGal April 5, 2015, 3:51 pm

            I agree, Betty probably had a version for each side and neither was really accurate… I think the dude was nice to at least realize and make it known right away that he realized it wasn’t ‘right’ and it could end quickly… even if he didn’t do it the most gracefully.

        • Enna April 2, 2015, 12:06 pm

          That is shocking! I am glad he didn’t do anything nasty.

          • just4kicks April 3, 2015, 1:01 am

            @Enna: Me too! He was nice, a little awkward though.
            All these years later, I’m still not sure what “you can go now” was supposed to mean.
            I think he was expecting someone NOT young enough to be his daughter….

          • tanya April 4, 2015, 11:16 pm

            To me it sounds like he wasn’t expecting someone so young and was sure you wouldn’t either, and was trying to say it was okay to make a break of the date.

  • Michelle March 30, 2015, 9:22 pm

    Upon reading the invitation and learning it was being held in a restaurant, I would have assumed that I was to pay for my own meal. Hospitality has fallen by the wayside as more of the population gets the “gimmes” and also expects you to pay for the privilege of giving them something.

  • Kimberly March 30, 2015, 9:23 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if the FTB’s sister and MTB’s friend were somehow roped into doing this against their will and this was retaliatory rudeness on their part.

    I agree with Admin, I never go to an event at a public venue like this without the ability to pay my way and get home. If I have to ride with someone, I make sure I have enough to pay for a taxi home. I’ve been stung with to many bait and switches were I end up some place where I can’t eat and am trapped because of my ride.

  • kingsrings March 30, 2015, 10:32 pm

    I think this may be the first I’ve heard of a no-host baby shower. Of course that’s because it seems that most baby showers are at private homes. I wonder if the bores then have the guests potluck it? Hospitality is so lacking nowadays. There seems to be the minset of, “Why should I have to pay for them?”

  • Danielle March 30, 2015, 11:14 pm

    There was already a red flag here; when you are invited to a shower and told what to bring as a gift, you should already know that the hosts are not all they are cracked up to be. Also, being that the gift you were told to bring was basically cash should have also clued you in on the cluelessness of your hosts. This non party was so doomed from the get go.

    • Abby March 31, 2015, 7:21 am

      Good point.

    • Ellie March 31, 2015, 11:14 am

      I have actually been to one ‘gift card shower’ but I thought it was a rare case in which it would be appropriate. The couple was getting married, but would be moving across the country after the wedding. They were trying to keep the amount of things down to make moving as easy and affordable as possible. So the hostess decided to shower them with gift cards to hardware and furnishing stores and such to help them settle into their new home. Still, the hostess threw a great party with lots of games, food, and wine! Probably the best shower I’ve ever been to. It was fun for all the men too.

      But requesting gift cards in the situation OP submitted- for no reason except to dictate an easy party for the hostess and mom-to-be? Definitely not okay.

      • SingActDance March 31, 2015, 12:20 pm

        I did the same thing for a friend in college. Her future husband had joined the Coast Guard and they would be moving soon after their graduations/wedding. It was a small shower just for our sorority sisters, and we had nice refreshments and a surprise photo slideshow for her. A lot of sisters were extra generous and threw in other small, fun items like wedding-themed scrapbooking materials and such.

        • Ellie April 1, 2015, 7:58 pm

          Aww that sounds like a perfect shower for them, SingActDance! I bet that was very special for her and for all you sisters as well.

        • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 6:05 am

          These are both exceptions to the rule, that make sense, because there is a valid reason for it. In these cases, the I think a gift-card party makes lots of sense. If they had a forwarding address, and people were able to buy things off a registry, and have them shipped directly to their new place, that would also make a lot of sense, and I’d be fine with that.

          As long as the hosts are clear that this is an exception to the rule, and why, it should be fine. Especially if all the other rules of hospitality are observed – providing refreshments and entertainment, accepting all gifts graciously, with proper gratitude and even a can-do attitude when faced with a challenging gift (“We’ll leave it with my cousin, for now, and he can ship it when we’re settled,” for example).

  • lakey March 30, 2015, 11:20 pm

    It sounds like they wanted the benefit of a shower (gifts or gift cards), without providing any of the aspects of hostessing that would take actual effort. If the hosts couldn’t afford to pay the bill for the restaurant, they could have had it in someone’s home with some simple refreshments , decorations, and a couple of easy games. Heck, if you don’t cook, set up a nice salad bar, have a bakery sheet cake, some beverages, and you’re set. This event sounds like it wasn’t really a party and wasn’t very festive.

    • Jazzgirl205 March 31, 2015, 8:20 am

      True. I’ve given a number of baby showers and have been the GOH at a few myself. A shower with 10 – 20 guests is quite easy. All you have to do is clean your house, pull out “the good stuff” ( the good china, the punchbowl, the dainty little napkins, the silver) or go crazy with color coordinated paper products from dollar tree or Walmart, and buy a bunch of stuff from the deli section of the grocery store (for those who do not cook) – a cake, cookies, cheese and crackers, a vegetable tray. Look up some games on the internet. For the prizes, buy some miniatures from the liquor store. They are inexpensive but the ladies get excited when they win. Greet your guests with a happy and effervescent attitude. Voila!
      This is what I consider the easiest path that makes a fun party. For some reason, many people feel intimidated about entertaining at home. Just jump right in and the more you do it, the easier it gets.

    • Goldie March 31, 2015, 8:38 am

      This is exactly what I came here to post – this doesn’t sound like a shower, or a party, at all. No games, no acknowledgment of presents (which BTW were all gift cards per the hosts’ request), guests came in, had brunch at a restaurant, paid, and left. Why was this called a baby shower at all? Seriously, it would’ve been more considerate of the hosts if they’d just started a GoFundMe page – “our family member is expecting a baby, give her cash”. Still tacky, but at least this way the guests wouldn’t have had to drive to the restaurant, sit at the restaurant, and pay for the meal they probably weren’t exactly dying to have in the first place.

      Every shower I’ve been to was like you describe – simple refreshments, sheet cake, some beverages. There were games and socializing, guests didn’t have to pay for their share of the cake, and it felt like a shower, as opposed to this forced restaurant brunch thing.

  • InTheEther March 31, 2015, 1:04 am

    Honestly, going to a restaurant like that I’d expect to pay. Maybe I’ve just been to too many things with college students who can’t afford to treat everybody and therefore everything becomes a BYOwhatever. (admittedly the BYOwhatever bit is usually part of the invitation)

    What gets me is that this really doesn’t seem like a shower. I’ve been to events like this, but the way they were put together and presented was as “Hey, how do you feel about us all going out to ___ to celebrate ____’s [life-event]? It’d be a good time to give him/her any gifts too.”

    The way the OP wrote, it seems like this party was set up and presented as a formal/traditional shower, what with having designated hosts and such. I’m also kinda assuming there were formal invitations. So in that way, yeah, it was a bait-and-switch. It was presented as a hosted event and wound up being a super casual get together that could easily be planned and executed in about 20 minutes.

    • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 6:08 am


      I was once invited to a party (with a printed invitation), that said, “Bring your own chair and gun. Wine and beer provided.”

      I did not attend.

      • kingsrings April 2, 2015, 4:37 pm

        Um…….what on earth was the gun needed for?

        • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 8:00 pm

          It was a shooting party. They hosts set up targets in their very large back yard. It was a rural area, outside of city limits, so it was legal, and not a danger of hitting the neighbors, unless they wandered too close to the property line, but I think they were probably invited to attend, as well.

          I heard from other attendees (a lot of co-workers were invited) that it was a lot of fun, and nobody was injured. Yay. However, the danger that someone could have been injured just struck me as something I would not enjoy. I’m one of those people who watch a stunt show, cringing the whole time, convinced that THIS will be the time it goes wrong. Had I been the type who could relax and enjoy the combination of alcohol and guns, I’m sure I would have had as good a time as my co-workers. I prefer to relax and enjoy safer activities, like board games.

  • Green123 March 31, 2015, 2:42 am

    Personally I think in this ‘day and age’ it’s normal to presume that if you’re going to a restuarant that you’ll be paying for your own meal. The exception to this rule would be a wedding reception, but birthdays, baby showers, anniversary meals? I’d definitely expect to pay.

  • NostalgicGal March 31, 2015, 2:43 am

    I belong to a few clubs that usually meet at restaurants. Unless the hostess states that it’s ‘on the house’ (aka she is paying) we all assume that we will be paying our own. Sometimes it’s a catered, and though I can’t eat because of diet, I will still go, pay, and take my food home and feed it to my DH. It’s pretty common now that if you meet at a restaurant for something, it’s pay your own way.

    I would have expected being invited to a ‘shower’ that it would be paid for by the hostess(es) but. I would have taken $ expecting to buy my own if it’s held at a restaurant these days… and the bit about all gift cards does imply let’s not deal with hauling stuff around… I might have declined when I heard about that, and send a nice card of congratulations instead.

  • just4kicks March 31, 2015, 3:38 am

    Okay, keeping in mind it’s baseball season, here we go!!!

    1. “A gift card party”??? No.
    2. “An E-vite”? Nope.
    3. Paying for your own meal at said party??? Hell NO!

    That is a triple homerun right around the bases straight into the flames of E-hell!!!

  • Rebecca March 31, 2015, 3:43 am

    It sounds as though they didn’t think they were hosting a shower so much as organizing one.

    I’d probably have expected to pay. Most of these informal restaurant gatherings that I go to, everyone pays for themselves. If it was in the special event room with a set menu, and the invitation had said anything about hosting or “be our guest” then I’d have thought it was a hosted event, but if it’s just a bunch of people meeting at a restaurant, then not so much.

    • JeanLouiseFinch April 1, 2015, 8:25 am

      “It sounds as though they didn’t think they were hosting a shower so much as organizing one.” If that is the case, does etiquette demand that you thank the “hostess” or the M2B for inviting you to the “shower?” If so, what do you really thank them for? Oh, thanks for giving me a chance to give a gift card? Even if you need to limit the refreshments to cookies and punch, I think it’s extremely tacky to “invite” someone to a party and expect them to pay. If you want to say, “hey, lets go out to lunch together with M2B to honor her impending motherhood,” then that’s fine; the invitee knows she is paying for herself and whether to give something or not is optional.

  • Margo March 31, 2015, 3:55 am

    I think that as the event was at a restaurant, it was not surprising that everyone was paying their own way, particularly if you were not in a private section.

    It would have been better had the organisers made it clear on the invitation, but I have to admit that unless it was explicitly stated, I would always assume that an event at a restaurant was on he basis that everyone would pay their own way and, with something where there is a guest of honour I would expect to chip in for the GoH’s meal, too.

    I’m not very familiar with a baby showers as they are not a thing over here, but the idea of games (particularly in public!) make me cringe so I personally would have been more than happy with that aspect of it.

  • Christine March 31, 2015, 5:59 am

    I think this is a generational thing. I’ve been invited to many baby showers/birthdays/other events for a “celebration” by friends in my age group (young thirties) and it’s always been a “pay your own way”. My 65 year-old mother would be appalled if she were invited to an event like this (she would have been appalled that there was any mention of what gift to get too). When my friend threw me a baby shower where folks of multiple age groups would be there she threw a laid-back “backyard barbecue baby shower” and had burgers, hot dogs, cake, and sides. She played it safe and it went splendidly.

    • Jazzgirl205 March 31, 2015, 9:27 am

      I remember those days. That is called “friends getting together to celebrate” which is always fun. However, if that is the case, no one should consider themselves the host. They are just the person who picks up the phone and makes reservations.

    • Goldie March 31, 2015, 10:55 am

      Re: your first sentence, last year a woman I know from a social group we both belong to, sent me, and maybe a dozen other people, a FB invite to “help her celebrate her birthday, place TBD”. I was actually looking forward to spending the evening together and maybe buying the birthday girl a drink or two. Whether it’s bad form or not to throw one’s own birthday party, I liked her and wanted to get together and hang out. Well she finally decided on the place the day before the event. I looked it up and my jaw hit the floor at the prices. I could’ve easily left a hundred at that place, which I did not have, as I’d just paid my son’s first college bill and made my annual life insurance payment and my semi-annual auto insurance payment (not exactly cheap if you have a teenage son on your insurance). I made up some bogus reason and declined, but the fact is, I passed up on an evening of fun with a person I liked, because I straight out could not afford it. I’ll probably never tell her the real reason because it’s too embarrassing – meaning, she’ll probably do this again and she and I won’t ever get together for something like this! BTW, the number of people who’d RSVP’d yes to her event the night before, not counting myself, was either two or three, can’t remember. I must’ve not been the only one strapped for cash!

      • kingsrings March 31, 2015, 1:23 pm

        Well, I accidentally nearly did the same thing for my birthday last fall! My friends and I always celebrate each other’s birthdays by dining out at a restaurant of the birthday person’s choice, and everyone covers their own meal and the birthday person’s. So I picked a restaurant I liked but hadn’t been to in a while. I didn’t realize that things had changed there and their prices had gone up a substantial amount since I last dined there. I sent out the email to the group, and one friend replied back to me politely explaining that she was declining due to the expense and that others might do the same, too. Oops! Lesson learned to check the current menu before you send the invite. And I felt really bad because at the time I was in a really destitute place financially myself. So I sent out another email apologizing for my mistake and inviting them to a much more cost effective restaurant.
        But now next month is the birthday of another gal in our group, and she’s already pretty much let us know through word of mouth where she’d like to dine, and it is at least a semi-pricey place. Personally, I’m in a much better place financially now and can afford that one-time splurge, but I can’t help but think of others in our group who probably can’t right now, and wonder about the consideration level of picking that place.

        • Cass March 31, 2015, 11:02 pm

          Ha, I’m in a similar boat! A group of friends gets together for lunch one day a week, and I sometimes go if I’m available, or I used to; I’ve had some tough financial times the last couple of years, and it really ticked me off to no end that one member of the group would always whine if anyone chose anything that was moderately pricey ($15-20, all-in) but when it was her turn to pick the restaurant she’d always pick places that you can’t walk out of for less than $35-40, even for lunch. And I mean, this is not a situation where the rest of us covered whoever picked the restaurant or something; she’s just so vastly inconsiderate I’ve stopped spending time with the group as a group. (This is not the only strike against her; she tried to physically attack one member of the group a couple of years ago over a perceived slight, so she’s dangerous, as far as I’m concerned, as well as inconsiderate and rude.)

      • NostalgicGal March 31, 2015, 1:55 pm

        A couple that were friends and DH’s worked together; moved away. They decided that the way the visits back would work is she spent the whole day at the discount stores (in now big city) and he would at the parts and woodworking stores, then after a couple of days of that, invite everyone to a restaurant. Pay your own, and they’re in the center back of the big corner booth, holding court. Well you could barely say hi to them. (we went once, we did like the restaurant). We left before THEY started a hat passing to pay for THEIR meal. We never went back to one of their little dinner-courts; and finally he asked DH why not; and got told pretty much that. If he wanted to see everyone he should take some time to see everyone. (and the ‘dinner courts’ had dropped off a good deal too by what I heard). I found out about the discount store shopping being more important as I was seasonal at one when she showed up to load up (that wasn’t the sin, everyone has a right to shop)….

    • ally March 31, 2015, 12:07 pm

      I don’t know if thus is generational, I’m late 20s and hosted events at a restaurant were always paid for by the hosts, usually in advance. Isn’t that the point of RSVPing? Even a milestone surprise birthday party my parents and aunts hosted for my grandmother, which was at a restaurant, was paid for. I count these things as Events, capital, as being hosted. Get togethers are always pay you own way in my circle. Only my experience though, YMMV.

    • Skaramouche March 31, 2015, 12:21 pm

      I think you might be right. I am also in my “young thirties” (love the term!) but I haven’t seen this kind of thing yet. It’s more common for my sister’s set (she’s 6 years younger), I think. We do, however, do this very often for birthdays.
      I’m curious, if it’s a pay-your-own-way thing, is it still expected that you bring a gift? If so, I am flabbergasted. Why on earth would I want to pay for myself AND provide a gift so someone can celebrate himself/herself? :P. Mind you, if it’s a close friend, I will sometimes take a present anyway but that’s because I want to, not because it’s expected.

  • Mary March 31, 2015, 6:25 am

    The first clue that you were expected to pay for your meal would have been when you were told to bring a gift card as a gift. Did they also specify what amount the gift card was to be?

    • just4kicks March 31, 2015, 11:41 am

      @Mary: the obnoxious part of me would’ve wanted to get a gift card to the restaurant the party was held at, and then go and get it to pay for my meal. 😉

      • admin March 31, 2015, 2:52 pm

        Oh, you are deliciously evil. My Evil Twin is jealous she didn’t think of it first.

        • just4kicks April 2, 2015, 1:13 am

          @Admin: Thank you! The good Angel on my left shoulder is appalled I would even think of such a thing! 😉

  • Charliesmum March 31, 2015, 6:43 am

    Were you even able to converse with the mother-to-be, or was your table far away? One thing I never really liked at restaurant parties is you can’t really get up and move around, especially if you’re not in a private room. I’m only asking because I think that would be the cherry on the ‘what exactly went on here’ cake. I mean, at least at some showers you have the chance to coo over teeny-tiny onesies or something but this? Just gift cards that weren’t even awknowledged? Boring.

    And seriously? A ‘gift card shower’? Why? Makes me wonder if there wasn’t another shower with actual gifts for ‘first-tier’ friends or something, because that sounds like something these people might actually have done.

    I hosted a 50th birthday party for a friend once in her favourite restaurant, and I would have gladly paid for everyone, except for the fact I couldn’t afford it at all. So people knew upfront that they would be paying their own bill, and we would all chip in a bit to pay for the birthday-girl, so no one was blind-sided by it. I hope that was not an e-hell-y type thing, was it?

    • Margo April 1, 2015, 5:20 am

      No. You were clear with everyone up front what the arrangements would be, so no one was blindsided and there was no bait-and-switch.

    • mark2 April 1, 2015, 8:49 am

      Whole you did tell everyone, that is still not the proper way to host. If everyone said “hey let’s do this”, that’s another thing, but if YOU are hosting, you pay.

  • Angel March 31, 2015, 7:07 am

    This is probably one of the rudest things I have ever heard. But sadly I agree with the admin–and certainly would not have been surprised to be presented with a bill for my meal at the end of the shower. This was not really a shower. And it was a bait and switch. As soon as I was told to order off the regular menu though that would have been my first clue.

    My thought is if you can’t afford to host a shower, even a modest one with snacks and a cake, don’t have one for pete’s sake! And a gift card shower?? Why don’t they just call it what it is–a baby gift shakedown. This certainly was not any kind of party. Was there even a cake? It doesn’t sound like it from the submission.

    I think that this might be some kind of new trend or something. Certainly it is not something I or any friends and family I know of would ever do, but the times are changing and maybe this is the wave of the future. I hope not–because this gathering had nothing special about it. They didn’t even really go to any trouble for the mom-to-be. And if I were her, I would have been embarrassed and a little bit insulted.

  • Melissa S March 31, 2015, 7:12 am

    If I received an invitation to a shower at a restaurant, I would assume that the party was being held in one of the restaurant’s function rooms, and even if it clearly was not going to be in a separate room, I would have expected the co-hosts to have arranged to have everyone’s meals paid for in advance (or on one bill that one of them discreetly pays at the end of the meal). I never would have expected to have to pay unless I was told so in advance. I once co-hosted a shower at a restaurant during the brunch hours, and we were placed in an area of the restaurant separate from the other guests, but not in a separate room per se. We served a brunch buffet (separate from the buffet in the main part of the restaurant) and everyone was prepaid. It’s not difficult to make such arrangements with a restaurant, who are usually happy for the business.

    OP, I would suggest that you avoid this in the future by simply not socializing with these people.

  • Abby March 31, 2015, 7:16 am

    So, by “hosting” they meant that they called the restaurant to make the reservation and brought three balloons. And it took two of them to do this??

    I agree with others, that while it’s not technically correct to say one is hosting an event to which everyone pays for their own food, the minute the venue of the shower was announced, it should have been assumed that everyone would pay for their own. Not because it’s correct, but because more and more, that’s just what people do. At least they picked a modestly priced one.

    I think perhaps the aunt to be and friend could have said, look, in lieu of a traditional shower, why don’t we just meet at a restaurant and have brunch, and if you were planning on bringing a gift you can do it at that time. I think that wording might have made it a little more clear that regular shower activities would not be done and that everyone was paying for their own meals.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to organize a breakfast or dinner at a restaurant and assume everyone will pay for their own meals, but I do think the “hosts” erred in calling it a shower.

  • Shoegal March 31, 2015, 7:26 am

    Yeah, there were no actual “hosts” here. What exactly did they do to qualify as hosts? I think this type of arrangement is common for very casual birthday get togethers where everybody knows they are going to a restaurant and are going to pay for themselves and if you want to, pay for a drink or little gift for the guest of honor but only if you want to. Probably there were guests there that completely understood this was the case and the rest of you were just “surprised” with your bill. I have to question if this even qualifies as an actual party. This thing would only work if the organizers made it perfectly clear that it isn’t really a “baby shower” but simply – we are all just getting together at a restaurant for brunch to wish so and so well. It is up to the individual whether they’d like to include a gift since they are paying of their own breakfast. The key here is the invite . . . it doesn’t sound like this was made evident. If that is the case, it is plain old rude.

  • cleosia March 31, 2015, 7:54 am

    At many of my jobs, we threw various showers where everyone went out to a restaurant and chipped in whatever the bill was divided by the number of people attending, minus the guest of honor. But it was always understood that the function was hosted by the group as the group was paying for it. And even if we didn’t have a private room, it was generally a table to the side and out of the way. But we ALWAYS had the opening of gifts if not games. If you’re “hosting” a function, that generally means you’re paying for it. If you’re not paying for it, you cannot claim the title of Host for the function.

    Too many people don’t want to make the effort but want to claim the prestige.

  • JD March 31, 2015, 8:06 am

    The hostesses aren’t hostesses unless they provide for their guests; this was bait and switch. I think I would have been suspicious when I had to order my own meal, and in that case, would have refused to order anything but a drink. However, in the OP’s position of not being clearly told that her meal wasn’t covered by the pseudo hostesses, and having eaten already, I think I would have been strongly tempted to have said I didn’t bring any cash or a card with me (I truly don’t carry such things to showers or weddings; I normally leave my purse in the car, anyway), and let them figure out how it gets paid for. Of course, they would have derided me for not realizing I need to pay, and then hounded me to pay them back, but at least it might get me off their invitation list from then on. And I would want to be off of it. Also, no one tells me to bring a gift card as a demand. I bring what I think is the best gift for the person.
    The guest of honor was even handed a bill for her meal? Forget hostessing, they can’t even organize well!

  • AS March 31, 2015, 8:18 am

    I’m never sure about the hosting responsibilities of “meet up at a restaurant to celebrate so-and-so’s special day” things. I have gone to a bunch of them, mostly for Birthdays, and I have paid for my own meal (of course, we never got Birthday gifts in our circle of friends; hence that my compensate for paying for our food). I always go expecting to pay for my own food. The hosts are friends who are otherwise nice people. So I just decide not to throw them into etiquette hell.

  • Skaramouche March 31, 2015, 8:39 am

    As the years go by, I have less and less patience for this sort of thing. How close I was to this gimme pig and her friends would have decided my actions. If I was very close, I would have made a mental note about this horrible behaviour and adjusted future responses accordingly. If I wasn’t very close, there’s a good chance I would have grabbed my gift bag on the way out! Shameless? Yes, indeed. But it’s better than feeling “ripped off” for days afterwards. It’s not the money spent that rankles as much as the principle of it. I would already have been irritated enough at being told what to bring.

    There’s a minuscule chance that the mother-to-be didn’t know about the arrangements in advance. If I got the sense that this was the case, I would definitely give a gift a different time or upon the baby’s birth. If she did know, well, she made her own bed.

    • JD March 31, 2015, 4:18 pm

      You are right that there is that chance mom-to-be didn’t know. OP would be able to gauge that better than us, of course, but I’m going by my daughter’s experience when she got married. Two of her friends eagerly volunteered to give her a shower, and enlisted their mothers (who knew my daughter quite well) to help. That’s fine — what isn’t fine is that even though my daughter insisted, begged, pleaded, demanded that they stick to the smallish list of guests she suggested, as she only listed those whom she was inviting to her wedding, well, you guessed it, when we got there, they had invited a TON of women to the shower who were not invited to the wedding and who couldn’t be added to the guest list (the wedding was at a tiny church, for close family and closest friends only, and was only two weeks away). My daughter and I sat there the whole shower with red cheeks over the thought that people probably assumed she had asked that these folks be invited to the shower with no intention of inviting them to the wedding. ARRRRRGGH! It still bothers me!

      • Skaramouche April 2, 2015, 8:46 am

        Oh wow! That’s terrible. I don’t know what I would have done but like you, I would have been extremely embarrassed. I’m not sure there’s much one CAN do in such a situation except to drop these two friends.

  • Devin March 31, 2015, 8:45 am

    I wonder how much input the mom to be had in the planning of the shower? She might have told her family and friend that she didn’t want a lot of fuss and she didn’t enjoy being the center of attention so please no big present opening. She might have flat out refused to make a gift registry, and so the hosts decided to make it a card shower? Also, some restaurants ask that you don’t do gifts at the table or require you to rent out their private room to do so.
    I pretty much operate on the idea that the invitation spells out exactly what to expect. Does is say light refreshments, or cake & punch? Does is say seated dinner or please select your entree choice? If not I assume I’ll be covering the cost of what I order. The easiest way to get around a large expense by the hosts would have been to hold it later in the afternoon when it wasn’t meal time and offer light snacks and NA refreshments.

  • Shalamar March 31, 2015, 8:48 am

    This actually reminds me of a pet peeve of mine: when a host doesn’t make it clear that he/she is hosting. Maybe it’s just me, but if I have every intention of paying for people’s meals, I like to say so at the very beginning. “Order whatever you like; my treat.”

    Many years ago, when my then-boyfriend, now-husband were dating, we were saving up for our wedding and were watching every dime. His parents organized a big family dinner at a fairly pricey restaurant. We assumed that we’d be paying for ourselves, so we anxiously scanned the menu looking for the very cheapest option. At the end of the meal, future father-in-law took the bill, saying “It’s on me!” It was very kind of him, but I WISH he’d said so at the beginning. I wouldn’t have taken advantage of his hospitality and ordered steak and lobster, but I would have ordered the sandwich and fries I was hankering for instead of the small salad!

  • AthenaC March 31, 2015, 8:55 am

    When I was in college and very broke, I was invited to a baby shower at a restaurant for a woman I knew and loved. I scraped together what money I had and put together a small gift basket of necessities that one would not want to run out of at 2 a.m. – think diaper rash cream, baby shampoo, things like that. I reserved enough to pay for my meal just in case.

    At the very beginning of the shower, the mother-in-law cleared up any confusion by getting our attention, thanking us for coming, and saying, “You all are our guests this morning, so please go ahead and help yourselves to the buffet.”

    It was a lovely experience.

    P.S. Yes I know it’s technically incorrect for the mother-in-law to host the shower, but I just enjoyed a chance for us all to sit down together, wish the mom well, and watch her open presents. She is one of those gracious present-openers who had a positive comment for everything she received; when she opened my modest gift she said, “This mom knows what I need!”

  • lnelson1218 March 31, 2015, 9:26 am

    This is where communication is essential.

    For some there are probably reasons to have an event at a restaurant vs at home. But when issuing an invitation, it should spell out expectations. If money is tight, then a mention would not be amiss.

    Announcing that you are “inviting” everyone to such and such a place does have the wording that the host will be paying. Announcing that wouldn’t it be great if we all can meet up, leans more towards, everyone is paying their own way.

  • kingsrings March 31, 2015, 10:40 am

    I’m surprised at the number of people on here who are saying they wouldn’t be shocked or think it was rude to have to pay their own way at this kind of shindig. Here’s the way I see it: an event like a birthday party for a friend is a more casual event where the expectation that the guests pay for themselves is higher. But something like this baby shower is considered a more formal, important, sentimental, bigger event (despite where it’s held, the number of guests, and even if there isn’t big fancy decorations and such) and thus the organizers truly do host everyone by paying for the whole thing. It’s akin to a wedding reception, where guests understandably expect that they won’t be footing the bill for their meal. Same goes for an anniversary party.

    • Skaramouche March 31, 2015, 12:26 pm

      I second your comment. I was also very surprised at those who either said – “yes it’s tacky but that’s the way things are” (read: this is acceptable) or those who saw nothing wrong with it. It probably has something to do with age and where they live but still, wow.

    • Abby March 31, 2015, 2:06 pm

      I think it’s rude, but I still would not be shocked to hear that it happened. As others have pointed out, there were plenty of clues prior to the bill being handed to the OP that this was not really 1. a “hosted” event, or 2. even a shower. That’s not to excuse the tackniess of the “hosts” or the Mother to be if she went along with it (or requested gift cards in the first place)- just to say that it’s not really surprising.

      I agree that if you’re going to say you’re hosting a shower, the onus is on you to provide entertainment and food, whatever that may be. The hosts here failed completely. But there is a difference between saying something is not surprising and that something is not rude.

    • Meegs March 31, 2015, 2:22 pm

      Me too, I am completely baffled by this. I have attended many wedding and baby showers (and hosted quite a few as well) held at restaurants and not once, ever, was anyone expected to fork over a single dime. That would be totally unheard of and the notion would not even enter anyone’s mind where I’m from. I get that there are regional differences with things but honestly this one surprises me.

    • Samantha C March 31, 2015, 5:27 pm

      Doesn’t the formality level of the event depend on the individual event, not what kind of event it is? I’ve seen some really fancy catered hosted birthday parties, why should it be unheard of to have a casual pay-your-way anniversary or shower? I understand that gifts change the dynamic a bit, but the logic is weird to me.

    • Angel March 31, 2015, 7:38 pm

      I think that any event where gifts are generally expected–and at a shower gifts are the whole point of the party–it is the height of tackiness, greediness and rudeness to expect guests to pay their own way. Already they have bought a gift. Already they have carved out time to spend at the party. WHY must they also pay for their own food/drink? At the very least, if you are going to do this, make it clear on the invitation so guests can have all the information before making their decision. Frankly, unless it is a VERY close friend or family member, I would most likely opt to send a gift (or gift card, as the case may be) and send my regrets. And to be honest, I have never, EVER been to a shower like this. A casual birthday get together, ok. But a shower? You are asking me to bring a gift and then also asking me to essentially, host myself. Not okay.

  • DGS March 31, 2015, 10:58 am

    Ugh, how tacky. Although like many PP’s have said, these days, if invited to a restaurant, I always expect to pay due to similar experiences that I have had in the past.

  • lfa March 31, 2015, 11:06 am

    A few years ago several of us helped with a baby shower hosted by one sorority sister for another. It was a brunch buffet at a restaurant, in a private room with small tables and plenty of space to mingle and have a few games. While the hostess made the food arrangements and took care of the bill, a small group contributed the decorations, cake, favors, nametags (for a mix of family, childhood and college friends, fellow military wives, work colleagues) and game prizes. It turned out so nicely and everyone seemed to have a great time.

    The only faux-pas? The mother-to-be had come right out and asked the hostess–who’s known to be wonderfully generous and great at hospitality–to plan, organize and host the shower in her honor.

    • kingsrings March 31, 2015, 11:45 am

      Well, I can top that one. I’ve heard of some mother-to-be’s actually hosting their own showers! The one defense I’ve heard for that was that nobody had stepped forward and offered to host a baby shower for the mother-to-be, so she had no choice but to do it herself.

  • ally March 31, 2015, 12:01 pm

    I guess I’m in the minority here, if I get invited to a shower at a restaurant, i expect to be hosted. I’ve been to a couple “meet the baby” parties for coworkers held at a house, and it was fun, lots of food was provided and we also brought dishes as potluck. It was great.

    However, every wedding shower I’ve been to at a restaurant was hosted and paid for, like I mentioned. These were fixed menu or buffet affairs, in private rooms, but whenever I hear “shower” I expect to receive hospitality in exchange for my gift. I don’t think hosting a brown bag shower in a house would be OK either. If you’re (general) having guests – and I include people from whom you’re asking gifts as “guests,” then I think you provide them the meal that you can afford.

    In my area, showers are a big, formal deal, so this would be unheard of for many I know.

  • Hemi March 31, 2015, 1:58 pm

    I was invited to a restaurant “shower” once when I was in my 20’s and got terribly embarrassed. As it was a”shower” and I had received an invitation (along with store registry cards) and brought a gift & card, I assumed the meal was being taken care of by the “hostess”. I was wrong. When they bills came out, I wanted to die of shame because I truly did not bring money and was not able to pay the bill. So I had to tell the hostess that I could not pay the bill, in front of everyone because she would not step around to the hallway. I was completely mortified (I can feel the heat in my cheeks as I write this). The hostess said she could not pay for me, she only brought enough for herself and part of the GOH’s. We were all supposed to chip in to pay for the GOH but since I had never been to a “shower” like this before, I had no idea. Another guest took care of it for me and I paid her back ASAP, along with a note of thanks and gratitude.

    Since then, if I ever get invited any kind of celebration at a restaurant, I make sure to bring plenty of cash.

    • kingsrings March 31, 2015, 5:15 pm

      Something similar happened to me once. I was invited by the guy I was seeing to his family’s rental beach house in Carmel. Each kid was allowed to bring their significant other. We’d been having a lot of relationship problems, but still mutually agreed to go ahead with the trip. On the last day after dinner when we were preparing to leave, his father came up to us and announced what each of us owed for the rental that weekend! I was of course completely flabbergasted, as my guy had said absolutely nothing to me about having to pay for part of the rental price, and the thought hadn’t even entered my mind as he had invited me as his guest. I assumed that his parents paid for it and hosted all of us that were there that weekend. I was so mortified. I just sat there and stared wide-eyed. It’s so long ago that I can’t remember quite how we worked it out, but I think my guy had some extra money so he quickly jumped in and gave my share.

      • admin April 1, 2015, 6:55 am

        Well, if there is a way to destroy or hinder any relationship with a future daughter or son-in-law, this was it. My Evil Twin would almost wonder if the parents used the week to assess the suitability of these significant others and upon deciding that none of them qualified, dropped the completely ungracious bomb that they all owed money for the rental.

        • kingsrings April 1, 2015, 4:39 pm

          I can guess that they made the huge, very rude assumption that I already knew I would be helping to pay for the rental, but then wouldn’t they have told me before the trip the amount I owed so I would know how much money to bring? Or maybe my guy just never communicated to me beforehand exactly how the whole deal worked. He just invited me and that was it. His stepbrother’s girlfriend also came that weekend, but I don’t think they were around when this happened so I don’t know how it worked with them.

      • JWH April 1, 2015, 8:52 am

        Is it wrong that if I were confronted with that situation, I would be tempted to lawyer my way out of it?

      • Hemi April 1, 2015, 9:29 am

        People need to be a little clearer when they “host” but still expect you to pay. I would have gladly brought enough cash to pay for my meal and chip in for the GOH, had I known. I have declined a couple of invites from that particular “hostess” since then. It’s clear she wants the title and kudos, without actually doing anything to deserve it.

  • Marozia March 31, 2015, 3:50 pm

    I notice that ‘the grandmothers-to-be fought over the MTB bill’ but nobody bothered to tell the guests it was a pay-your-own-way caper!!

  • ColoradoCloudy March 31, 2015, 4:40 pm

    My family was once invited to a birthday party at a restaurant, later in the evening on a school/work night at a rather pricey local spot. Since the mother of the family (who I considered a pretty close friend) that was “hosting” the event had specifically called and almost begged us to come, on the day of, even though it was late, it was last-minute and not really an appropriate place for a teenager’s birthday, we went. I ran out after work and bought a gift card and a birthday card, got my kids dressed decently and dragged my family out to the restaurant. We were seated at the end of a long table, next to the relatives of our friends, whom we didn’t know. The only contact I had directly with the birthday boy was when I handed him his gift. I wasn’t even able to speak to my friends except for yelling down the table. On top of that, the service was awful, two of us got our dinners almost 20 minutes before the other 2, the food was middling, and there was apparently some simmering issue between the birthday boy and his grandma, which make the whole thing awkward and uncomfortable. When the bill came, the “host” told the server that he would cover everyone (12 people) except the “four people at the end of the table” – in other words, my family. I was shocked. Our bill came to almost $70, excluding tip, no adult beverages, for 4 people. I felt we had been used to make the party seem bigger, and that we weren’t really wanted. It was an expenditure which was unexpected and unplanned for, and the whole situation left me with bad feelings towards our friends.

    Since then, I have always expected to pay when “invited” to a party at a restaurant.

    • Michelle April 1, 2015, 9:22 am

      Ugh. They practically begged you to come and then publicly “snub” you? Awful.

    • Charliesmum April 1, 2015, 9:50 am

      That’s horrible. That’s worse then all the guests being expected to pay – singling you out like that is just…wow. I’m gobsmacked.

    • kingsrings April 1, 2015, 3:23 pm

      That is even more rude to pay for a group of the guests but not others. Blatantly showing favoritism like that is appalling.

  • MPW1971 March 31, 2015, 7:12 pm

    There’s a grey area here. I’ve been invited to a restaurant to celebrate birthdays of “not-so-close friends” – these were friends of my roommates or grad students I shared a lab with. There was no formal invitation or “host” – and certainly nothing with as much expectation as a shower. Nobody ever expected anything but to pay for their own meal and drinks, and perhaps chip in a few dollars or buy a drink or two for the person celebrating. There was no expectation of that, and perhaps fortunately for all of us, once the meal was over and the drinking started, we were all on our own for paying – no running tab which needed to be split by people who maybe couldn’t remember how many beers they each had. In any case, there a grey area on “invitation” and “hosting” when a restaurant is involved, but without that “private party”. In a situation like the one above, I suppose anyone could have joined the celebration because they were paying their own way, which works for some groups, and obviously not for others.
    I was in one situation where this fell apart in other ways. On my first internship – age 18 – there was a retirement lunch for one co-worker. Someone (nobody ever admitted it) arranged for a group lunch at a local restaurant. It was a private room and we had our choice of 3 or 4 meal options only. Everyone knew it was “pay your own way”, but what they didn’t know was the cost. The year was 1990 and people were expecting a lunch of maybe $10 in a casual restaurant. The “fixed price” meals were all in excess of $20 and some were pushing $30, not including tax and tip. (In retrospect I think that a service charge was added in to the meal cost.) This was also before debit cards, so it was pretty much cash only – people were in a hurry to get back to work. I’m “old school” and always carried cash, and loaned almost $200 to my adult, middle-aged co-workers, including my boss and his boss, because they didn’t have enough money to pay such a large lunch bill. Everyone paid me back, but as they did, the restaurant choice became a topic of conversation – very expensive lunches from a limited menu – in a place which was not at all upscale. The thing is that without seeing menus, nobody knew how much they would expect to pay – thus the shock at the end.

  • waltzing matilda April 1, 2015, 3:12 am

    I have to say that if I’m invited to a ‘do’ at a restaurant, I assume I’m paying for myself and s contribution for the guest of honour. If it was at a private house, absolutely not. But they should have told you before hand just so there’s no confusion.

  • JO April 1, 2015, 5:36 am

    What those “hosts” did was absolutely rude. Unfortunately, as we have seen from this site, rude folks are not exactly a dying breed.

  • JWH April 1, 2015, 8:49 am

    A side question, inspired by an above comment: I might be looking at marriage in a year or two. How do I make it clear to friends and family that I have zero interest in bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners, or anything other than going to the courthouse, getting the wedding done, and moving on?

    I know there’s something to be said for suffering through such things with grace … but I’ve always hated the pre-wedding events, I’m completely uncomfortable as the center of attention at one of these things, and I absolutely loathe the idea of somebody spending money for one of those things on my behalf.

    • another Laura April 3, 2015, 9:33 am

      Tell them exactly what you said here. Also add that any attempt to ambush you with a surprise event will be met with you leaving. If they are true friends they will respect your wishes.

  • Otter April 1, 2015, 9:34 am

    I once got an invitation to no party at all. It contained an address to send gift cards to an address only, no date, no time, not even the mother’s name. I thought it was a scam until I called a few people and found it was my SIL’s sister, who I did not know. Apparently, there WAS a party but I was not on the A-list (or the B or C list…). After the inquiry I was issued a verbal “you can come anyway” to the event 3 hours away next day, yada, yada…and can you bring thus and such food? No, and the “invite” went in the trash as there was no RSVP either. Not surprisingly, SIL and clan became ex-family after many, many other such antics.

    • Angel April 2, 2015, 6:22 pm

      I thought the OP’s submission was the rudest thing I had ever heard until I read this. What nerve!

  • Enna April 2, 2015, 12:09 pm

    Hmm, I think maybe the Host should have been a bit more up front? For example if it was “let’s go for a meal out to celebrate the couple becoming parents” I would assume I would pay for my own meal and maybe factor that into the cost of the gift. For example get a token present. If the hosts don’t like the token presant and for a baby that can be something inexpensive and yet very useful then they can jog on.