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In the strictest sense of etiquette, it is not proper to ask guests to pay to attend a party. Etiquette experts agree that hosts should deploy cost-cutting measures (have an informal dessert party, whittle the guest list, etc.) rather than requesting guests foot their own bill.
While protocol does not advocate putting cost information on a party invitation, some people do in this day and age. If you do opt to put it on the invitation, it's best to place it in the corner opposite the RSVP invitation, as shown below:
Please join us
in celebration of
JOHN's 60th Birthday
DAY, Date at TIME
$20 per person RSVP: 333-333-3333
Remember to consider the feelings of the honoree in this decision. If the honoree is rather traditional and conservative, they would likely be embarrassed by such a request. If you must pass a cost on to your invited guests, the best way to spread the word is by word of mouth.
This is true except in the US military. We host parties for hundreds of people and alway have everyone pay their own way. If the host pays for the event he/she would be considered using incorrect form. It is NOT considered uncomfortable or rude...just the opposite...it is considered the norm to charge the invitee for a large event.
When we have private functions at our homes, ei dinners or luncheons with a small number of people, we do not charge people to attend.
I'm not sure how long this has been a military tradition...probably since the beginning because most of our customs in the United States started with the military and have evolved from there.
good to know! Im having difficulty with this matter. My husband is conservative and may feel badly if I denote a "price per person". But since its his 50th, I wanted to make a big deal out of it. The food cost alone is $40.00 per person, so I was wondering if I could suggest $20.00 per person which would lighten the load for me personally. It seems like a managable amount when you think about all the food that will be served in a formal setting. I don't know how I would feel if I received an invitation like this??