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Hyacinth

Is it tacky to plan my own party?

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I'm turning 50 this year.

I'm not a fan of big parties and I don't need a lot of attention, but I asked myself if I would be okay with this milestone coming and going without a celebration and, honestly, I think I'd be sad about that. 

Due to life changes, my best friend (who helped coordinate small get-togethers for other milestones) won't be able to plan this one. And dh is out of town most oif the time (plus, bless his heart, he's not much of a party planner). Add to that my birthday is close to Christmas, which is a busy time for everyone anyway.

I don't have a lot of close friends in town, but there are probably 8-10 people/couples that I'd enjoy celebrating with.

So is it tacky to essentially plan a party for myself? Is it kind of pathetic? Maybe I should plan a birthday getaway with my husband instead?

 Thanks for your thoughts, Hive. 

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People throw their own housewarmings, weddings, graduation parties.  I think it’s nice that you want to celebrate your milestone birthday.  Go for it!

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I don't think it's weird for a birthday!  For a shower, yes, that would be weird.  I'd just think of it as a milestone celebration and a good excuse to host some friends.  Have fun with it!

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I have no idea why I always remember the books by Miss Manners that I read 20 years ago. They were outdated *then.* So don't think this is some kind of current thought on etiquette, but I do remember exactly what she said about this scenario. 

It's pretty much what Carol said: Don't tell the guests it's your birthday.

Plan your event exactly as you want it to be, invite the people you want, and have a wonderful time. Then, near the end of the evening, say, "I'm so glad you all came, this has been so much fun! It's my 50th birthday, and I'm glad you were here to share it with me." 

I think it would even work to say that right before bringing out a birthday cake. Anyone on the planet would be delighted to sing Happy Birthday for you and clap when you blow out the candles, even if they didn't know until then that it was a birthday party.

If you want to be absolutely sure you don't sound pathetic (which I don't think you would, I think this idea is charming), you could tell them that your husband is taking you away for the weekend, but you also wanted a dinner party with your friends. That covers all the bases.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Tibbie Dunbar said:

I have no idea why I always remember the books by Miss Manners that I read 20 years ago. They were outdated *then.* So don't think this is some kind of current thought on etiquette, but I do remember exactly what she said about this scenario. 

It's pretty much what Carol said: Don't tell the guests it's your birthday.

Plan your event exactly as you want it to be, invite the people you want, and have a wonderful time. Then, near the end of the evening, say, "I'm so glad you all came, this has been so much fun! It's my 50th birthday, and I'm glad you were here to share it with me." 

I think it would even work to say that right before bringing out a birthday cake. Anyone on the planet would be delighted to sing Happy Birthday for you and clap when you blow out the candles, even if they didn't know until then that it was a birthday party.

If you want to be absolutely sure you don't sound pathetic (which I don't think you would, I think this idea is charming), you could tell them that your husband is taking you away for the weekend, but you also wanted a dinner party with your friends. That covers all the bases.

 

 

But will all the guests not know it is her birthday? Last year we were invited to a party at the house of friends.  The somewhat socially awkward husband invited us because he’s the one we see all of the time. He mentioned it was his wife’s birthday, but very casually. So we took a small, homemade gift and she was obviously very, very uncomfortable with it because I don’t think anyone else there, except family, knew it was her birthday.

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IF you want to celebrate, throw yourself a party! 
I turned a significant birthday last year. Significant because most of my family does not live to that age. So yes, I had one party for some of my family--we invited everyone to join us at a Texas Rangers game. It was fun....and I was not the center of attention, but my birthday was the reason. 

Then we hosted a dinner party at a local restaurant for a half dozen of my closest friends and their spouses. We had a blast celebrating the milestone. Gifts were not expected and we paid the bill. 

Life is too SHORT to wait for someone else to fulfill your wishes. DO it! Let people celebrate with you.

 

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Throw it yourself and tell them it's your big day! 

Just word your invitation, something like:  I'm having a get-together to celebrate my birthday (50!) & I'd love for you to join me!  All I want is your company (no gifts) and a good time!

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8 minutes ago, alisoncooks said:

Throw it yourself and tell them it's your big day! 

Just word your invitation, something like:  I'm having a get-together to celebrate my birthday (50!) & I'd love for you to join me!  All I want is your company (no gifts) and a good time!

 

This.  I think the rule about not telling anyone went out with people expecting the bride's parents to cover every wedding expense.  It's nice enough, but no longer the way people live.

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My husband has been throwing his own birthday parties since we reached adult-hood.  He's always said that his birthday is his favorite holiday.  I think maybe it would be different if you were expecting everyone to bring a gift? but for us, it's just been a wonderful excuse to have fun gathering at our house.  Oh, for his 30th we did have it in a private room at a local bar and grill which was a little extra fun, but he invited quite a few more people for that one as well.  We'll probably do something bigger for his 40th next year as well.  It never even occurred to me or any of my friends that it's not OK to do something like this.  In our group it's pretty common to get a phone call with someone saying "Hey, next week is my birthday, let's all go out to dinner!" or something along those lines.  As I said above I think we're all really just using it as an excuse to have a fun gathering with friends, regardless of the size. 

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If you feel awkward about it make the invitations and such from your husband, but you do the actual planning. he'll be the host in name only.

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Throw your own party if you like and say that's what it is. It would be very strange for your guests to attend a party for your birthday and not know it's your birthday until after they got there. Awkward!  People expect to know what's being celebrated when they celebrate it.  You wouldn't throw a baby shower, graduation party, or any other party without people knowing what they're celebrating.

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I have a sibling that is not married and she makes plans for her birthdays every year. Many times these are small parties with friends/neighbors. I can understand feeling weird about it, but if they are close enough friends then I don't think they'd flinch. They might even ask what they can bring or if they can help set up. 

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In my home country, the birthday person is supposed to have the party and invite and feed everybody. You don't have friends take you out to dinner on your birthday- you invite and pay for your friends.

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24 minutes ago, regentrude said:

In my home country, the birthday person is supposed to have the party and invite and feed everybody. You don't have friends take you out to dinner on your birthday- you invite and pay for your friends.

It's the same way in the Netherlands! 

I was reading this thread and kept thinking 'What's the problem?? Of course you organise a party!' But apparently this is not so in America? Ha, learn something new every day! :-)

So, my vote: throw yourself a party, your friends will love to celebrate with you!

 

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I turned 40 a couple weeks ago and my friend convinced me to throw my own party.  I had a taekwondo party at the school where my son teaches (which means my 16yo son ran the party; my friend who convinced me to do it was the program director at the time).  It was super fun.  I did say no gifts, but if guests wanted they could bring donations of diapers and other necessities for me to take to the Center for Refugee Services.  Throw your own party!

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have a fun party.   what's the theme going to be?

 

(dd had a "proper" tea party for her 35th.)

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Just FYI, I don’t think people expect to bring gifts to a 50th birthday party.  I know you are not having a party to get gifts, so I am saying this to encourage you to go for it.  We went to a 50th birthday around Christmas, thrown as a surprise by the husband, and only one person took a real gift.  I took a festively-wrapped jar of cumin (the cheap cumin, not even fancy stuff, if there is such a thing) as a joke because this friend/neighbor borrows cumin from me so often that I often have to borrow mine back from her.  The party was held in the back room of a smoky bar, which I didn’t know existed any more, and was really, really fun.  Definitely go for it; you’re 50–do you really care if anyone thinks it is weird???

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27 minutes ago, plansrme said:

Just FYI, I don’t think people expect to bring gifts to a 50th birthday party. 

 

We threw a 50th birthday party for my mom more than 20 years ago and everyone brought gifts, so I'm not sure that's universal unless you specify...

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Definitely do it, and yes you can say it's for your birthday! I can see where it would be odd if it were a really traditional party with cake and balloons (oh my), but not for something that is just friends who like being together getting together for an awesome evening of memories, kwim? You might make it easy, like asking if they'd like to do a girls' night out and go to a restaurant, everyone paying for their own. You could take a trip to a big city. You could go on a river cruise. Really do anything you want, so long as you make it clear who is paying for what. 

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My mom had a friend who always threw herself a birthday party, because her husband would not. She would have a yearly luncheon at her home for her friends, and she gave each of them a small gift, such as a potted plant. I believe her friends brought gifts, but she may have told them not to (cannot remember). This was a social event my mom looked forward to every year.

So I say go for it! I know some people think it is tacky to specify "no gifts" on an invitation, but I think it would be appropriate in this case.

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A friend who likes to bake threw herself a lovely 50th. She made several different (and amazing) cakes and it was a lovely afternoon get-together. For dh's 50th we hosted a happy hour with a group of people with whom we used to occasionally have Friday afternoon happy hours (once or twice a year). That was also a lovely event--we hadn't been all together in a long time. We were also supporting one of the friend's new brewery business. I don't understand any hesitation in throwing your own party. Celebrate!

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Yes, throw that party. Life is too short to not celebrate those milestones. 

I turned 50 last year and invited friends out to eat. They paid their own way because we're all broke college students, but it was fun, low key and memorable. 

 

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10 hours ago, Hyacinth said:

I'm turning 50 this year.

I'm not a fan of big parties and I don't need a lot of attention, but I asked myself if I would be okay with this milestone coming and going without a celebration and, honestly, I think I'd be sad about that. 

Due to life changes, my best friend (who helped coordinate small get-togethers for other milestones) won't be able to plan this one. And dh is out of town most oif the time (plus, bless his heart, he's not much of a party planner). Add to that my birthday is close to Christmas, which is a busy time for everyone anyway.

I don't have a lot of close friends in town, but there are probably 8-10 people/couples that I'd enjoy celebrating with.

So is it tacky to essentially plan a party for myself? Is it kind of pathetic? Maybe I should plan a birthday getaway with my husband instead?

 Thanks for your thoughts, Hive. 

I just did this a few weeks ago!  Happy 50th to us!  :D  It was fun - I did pretty much what you are thinking - invited around nine friends I really wanted to celebrate with.  I planned food a few months in advance, and made all of us a nice dinner.  Two different kinds of spaghetti sauce, noodles, two kinds of cake, ice cream.  All homemade (except the noodles.  Which I had planned to make, until two hours before start time I had to tell myself there just was no time left, lol - ran to store and bought noodles).  A friend volunteered to bring Caesar salad (which I was going to make, but she insisted), and a couple others brought wine. 

I wondered all the same things you did, and then I decided to do exactly what I wanted to do.  All the people I invited were thrilled, and they all told me afterwards that they had fun (we ate, and then sat and talked for hours).

If you think you'll be sad without marking this huge milestone, then you should just go for it.  My party made me realize how blessed I am to have the caring friends I have.

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8 hours ago, regentrude said:

In my home country, the birthday person is supposed to have the party and invite and feed everybody. You don't have friends take you out to dinner on your birthday- you invite and pay for your friends.

I was going to say that in many countries overseas, this is very common. You are the host and provide the party.

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Do it!  Some etiquette seems silly.  If you want a 50th birthday party, just throw it yourself!  I'll bet your guests will be very happy to go.  I wouldn't think anything of it it! (Except happy!)  Happy Birthday!!

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I haven't read all the replies, but when I lived in Europe, people definitely threw their own birthday parties. (None of this waiting around for people to do it for you and acting all surprised.) It was just no big deal; the person would bring goodies from the bakery to work and just say it was their birthday. Very common-sense and civilized, I thought. A nice way to be generous on your special day. That held for actual parties, too (after work, with friends). So yes, go ahead! I'd be flattered to be invited to someone's special day. I did a very small dinner for my 50th and am glad I did.

 

ETA: okay, I read the replies and I see lots of people beat me to it. Ha! But yes, it's the norm in Europe and as I said, a very civilized and generous custom. 

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19 hours ago, alisoncooks said:

Throw it yourself and tell them it's your big day! 

Just word your invitation, something like:  I'm having a get-together to celebrate my birthday (50!) & I'd love for you to join me!  All I want is your company (no gifts) and a good time!

 

This.

The old etiquette rule (nothing wrong with old rules) is to not draw attention to yourself and put out a plea for gifts. Neither is your intent.

8-10 couples, your friends! They WANT to help celebrate, and who doesn't like a great excuse for a nice party/get together! If you were to not tell them, a few would know anyway, and if others found out when they were celebrating with you, they would feel awkward that they didn't know/remember. (Right? Wouldn't you feel that way?)

Enjoy the planning, enjoy the party, enjoy your friends, and enjoy celebrating your birthday.

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2 minutes ago, ThisIsTheDay said:

 

This.

The old etiquette rule (nothing wrong with old rules) is to not draw attention to yourself and put out a plea for gifts. Neither is your intent.

8-10 couples, your friends! They WANT to help celebrate, and who doesn't like a great excuse for a nice party/get together! If you were to not tell them, a few would know anyway, and if others found out when they were celebrating with you, they would feel awkward that they didn't know/remember. (Right? Wouldn't you feel that way?)

Enjoy the planning, enjoy the party, enjoy your friends, and enjoy celebrating your birthday.

 

IME, yes. It is awkward to find out that what you thought was, say, a July 4th party was also a 30th birthday party, because I have experienced this. It made me vigilant about finding out if the person’s later parties were “really” just a get-together or were actually a birthday party. I felt sheepish that some guests knew it was really for a special birthday and I hadn’t known. 

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IMO it’s fine if you are SUPER open about it !  If we can’t openly love ourselves and others at 50, when can we ? I would say hey I’m excited to be making it to 50 !  And I want to celebrate all the wonderful friends in my life by throwing you all a party !  Please come and let’s have a great time ! 

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I vote do it! I've had one bday party as an adult, a surprise dh and a friend threw for me, it was a blast. I'm for sure throwing my own when I turn 40 next year!!!

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