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Old 05.07.2015, 16:36
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A question on birthday dinners...

I never had to confront this question as, in the past (in CH), I've either had birthday parties thrown for me or had a quiet dinner with a couple of friends. This time, however, I am thinking of organising a dinner at a restaurant with some close friends (around 10, both Swiss and non-Swiss, with incomes of 0 to, ahem, quite high).

Which brings me to the question: is the birthday boy/girl supposed to foot the bill?

It sounds odd as birthday dinners in pubs/restaurants outside Switzerland usually had everyone going Dutch or contributing to the birthday boy/girl's share too. But I observed the opposite here....
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Old 05.07.2015, 16:56
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

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I never had to confront this question as, in the past (in CH), I've either had birthday parties thrown for me or had a quiet dinner with a couple of friends. This time, however, I am thinking of organising a dinner at a restaurant with some close friends (around 10, both Swiss and non-Swiss, with incomes of 0 to, ahem, quite high).

Which brings me to the question: is the birthday boy/girl supposed to foot the bill?

It sounds odd as birthday dinners in pubs/restaurants outside Switzerland usually had everyone going Dutch or contributing to the birthday boy/girl's share too. But I observed the opposite here....
If some of your friends don't have much income they may feel embarrassed and not attend and also if you foot the bill where does it end? Drinks , aperitifs etc. If you have somewhere where you can hold a celebration why don't you have a party where everyone brings either a starter, main course or dessert - none is feeling uncomfortable and you could use some of the cash saved from not going to a restaurant to buy some drinks in for everyone.

Also if you have friends from many nationalities as is usual in Switzerland it is a great chance to try lots of things that you would otherwise not have experienced.
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Old 05.07.2015, 17:28
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

I agree with Smackjack .... usually it`s "they who invite, foot the bill".

Do something different as recommended?

Swiss who do invitations to dinner parties usually pay the entire bill.

Those who expect guests to pay for their own are usually from other cultures. We have an expat from my country who does this every year on her birthday and now has hardly any "guests" who turn up at her favourite restaurant any more. It`s considered "el cheapo" to do that

Better to entertain at home, or at some simple self-arranged venue where guests can be expected to make their own contribution to their glut, like a communal bbq/picnic? A bbq at a forest hut is where guests usually bring their own meat/drinks (book that with local Gemeinde).
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Old 05.07.2015, 17:32
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

Thanks, smackerjack. Unfortunately, my apartment is too small to even accommodate a party of 4 (which was the case some days ago). My birthday also falls during the week, so it would be too much to ask them to participate in a repas canadien. The only solution seemed to be the restaurant route so that (apart from the question of the bill) they just need to turn up and not worry about anything else!

Thanks, smoky. It's then indeed the norm here that the one who invites pays the bill. I have to think then of something that falls within my student budget....

Last edited by vuachère; 05.07.2015 at 17:39. Reason: Including a reply to smoky.
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Old 05.07.2015, 18:25
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

If you invite, then yes, or make it very clear at the time of the invitation who will pay what.

You could agree to pay for drinks and everybody pays for their own food, but this may seem to be a bit tight.

Pay for everything, if you can't afford it, find a cheaper restaurant, remember, you can't take it with you and money isn't much use apart from spending !

Happy birthday & have fun
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Old 05.07.2015, 18:30
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

What you do is find a restaurant that offers a daily set menu/table d'hote - which is normally reasonably priced.
Cover the cost of that plus a couple or so bottles of wine - at your expense.

If anyone wants to go off piste and order à la carte, have other/extra drinks and dessert, then they pay the difference.

Alternatively, you can pre-arrange with owner/chef your own set menu to an agreed price per cover, but same principle applies for guests paying for their own extras.
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Old 05.07.2015, 20:29
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

Quote:
Thanks, smackerjack. Unfortunately, my apartment is too small to even accommodate a party of 4 (which was the case some days ago). My birthday also falls during the week, so it would be too much to ask them to participate in a repas canadien. The only solution seemed to be the restaurant route so that (apart from the question of the bill) they just need to turn up and not worry about anything else!

Thanks, smoky. It's then indeed the norm here that the one who invites pays the bill. I have to think then of something that falls within my student budget....
As has been said, as a general rule who invites, pays. Unless, however, the invitation clearly states differently.

You could say, like, food on me, all else on who orders. Or, Pizza and Pasta on me, all else on who orders, that would save you from having to pay for the more expensive dishes. Friends can be expected to understand and accept - and if they don't perhaps they're not much of a friend to begin with.

Other than that:
Would going outdoors be an option? That would make things fairly easy. Find a hut or so as shelter against bad weather, make sure you have a fireplace, arrange for firewood, drinks, napkins, one-way tableware and cutlery. All else is on the individual, everybody is invited to bring salad, dessert, and whatnot (have them tell you what they bring so you can arrange for some variety). Perhaps arrange with one or two better-off to foot the meat bill if you want to provide that.

Last edited by Urs Max; 05.07.2015 at 20:45.
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Old 05.07.2015, 20:45
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

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my apartment is too small to even accommodate a party of 4
You'd be surprised, we have had 18-20 several times, despite the dinner table being only for 8 (usually for Thanksgiving, sometimes for Mexican).

And we've had as many as 40 in here after a funeral.

Tom
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Old 05.07.2015, 20:50
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

I've attended a few birthday dinners and I think it really varies. When you are with a bunch of relatively young people and a big group, nobody expects the birthday boy/girl to pay. On the other hand, I've attended other birthday dos where the birthday boy paid for everything including hotels for all guests.

But if you are going to invite a small number of people and you know some have no money, then I would make it clear that you will pay so that the no-income friends are not deterred.
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Old 06.07.2015, 00:51
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Re: A question on birthday dinners...

The magic of English Forum! I not only get the answer (to my question), as well as lots of thoughtful suggestions! Thank you all so much!

Today_only, Urs_Max, & Phil_MCR: I shall remember to subtly convey whatever will be on me.

TiMow: yes, the wine and nibbles would certainly be on me. I have spent the evening trawling restaurant websites- but it seems as if the set menus are for lunch. But I shall look into whether I can organise one for the dinner for my small group.

Urs_Max: outdoors and picnics sounds idyllic, but not feasible (transport constraint)

st2lemans: space is seriously an issue- or else, I would have certainly organised this at my own place!

Thank you all!
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