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  1. #1

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    Bit of a rant re my sister organising afternoon tea

    I just got an email from my sister saying she is organising a bit of a reunion with people we went to primary school with and it will be an afternoon tea at a flash hotel. However it is really expensive (like $70 for just the afternoon tea).

    Nice thought, but unless it was something more affordable, I cannot afford to go and I have basically told her that. I am a disappointed though because I would have liked to catch up with the others who were going.

    I do have a choice to say no, but when it costs that much, I sometimes wish that the people organising would consider that others might not be as financially well off as what they are. Particularly when they are your family.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  2. #2
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    Your situation reminds me of a girlfriend's 21st birthday she organised at a four star hotel in town. It was an afternoon tea also, and twenty years ago as a struggling student, $30 dollars was a lot for a teeny cucumber sandwich and a cube of cake. On top of that, I was expected to buy her a card and a present also. I guess what disappointed me was, it was a special day for her, but she bitched about the things that weren't to her liking afterwards. I felt like saying, mate, you asked us to attend and we did, shouldn't that be enough.

    Of course you can say no, but is there any way of catching up with some of the people away from the function. Maybe a more laid back after party at your place, or something like that. Is there any way of asking your sister for the contact list without her thinking your taking attention away from the big event?

    I agree that events like this should be budgeted at the lowest common denominator. 70 dollars is my weekly grocery budget.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by essence_of_soy View Post
    I agree that events like this should be budgeted at the lowest common denominator. 70 dollars is my weekly grocery budget.
    Yeah $70 is my weekly grocery budget too. I know that if I organise something, I try to keep it affordable for everyone.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  4. #4

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    I agree that $70 is way too much. Is it too late for your sister to change the venue? Perhaps something close to the school (for nostalgia's sake) and more reasonably priced will insure a good turnout.

    I've started actually calculating the hours I would have to work to pay for an event or discretionary item before deciding if I should go ahead. I ask "If I worked x hours and all I got was y, would I be ok with it?" For example, I'd have to work a full day for a certain brand of jeans. If my employer thanked me at the end of the day with ONE pair, would I be happy? NO!
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  5. #5
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    You know your sister better than I, but I would consider giving her a break. Organizing an event like this can be a lot of work, and pleasing everyone is nearly impossible. For everyone who complains it's too expensive, there will be another who thinks it's not nice enough or any number of other selfish complaints.

    And sure, $70 is a lot for a tea, but it's also a special occasion and if it's important to people, they'll find a way to make it work, just like we all do when we want something and have to adjust our budgets to make it happen.

    While it may not be fair to expect everyone to make that decision, I also don't think it's fair to expect everyone at a social occasion to accommodate the person or persons who want to do it on the cheap.

    It's important for a hostess to do her best to make sure everyone has a good time, but it's all important as a guest to be gracious, respect that they are one of a group of people with individual needs and preferences, and be supportive of a host who has put in the effort to create a special occasion such as this. Especially when it's your own sister and she may be counting on your support.

  6. #6
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    That is a lot of money for a tea. I would think that if she wanted everyone to attend, she should try to find something more reasonable that was more accessible for everyone...

  7. #7
    Hey, Kool-Aid!
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    Maybe you could look at the tea as a pair of pants that fit real well and enjoy the reunion and the memories that you'll have forever.

    I'm not the afternoon tea kind but that price doesn't seem that out of line compared to what I've seen in England. Also aren't most afternoon teas at flash hotels? I know none of that makes it any more affordable for you but maybe cut your sister some slack. She can't organize this around your needs but has to consider the group. It could be the afternoon tea idea was the best compromise for the needs of the group as a whole.

    If it was a family reunion I think you could have more of a point.
    Tessa and Scott: Thank you

  8. #8
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    I don't know what your relationship with your sister is like, but could you talk to her about the cost? Maybe she could subsidize it for you...I've been doing that for my sister lately, since her husband is not working.

    You don't know unless you ask.

  9. #9
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    When I organize something, I try to be aware of the cost, but I am also sympathetic to your sister. As Jenny mentioned, whenever someone plans something, there are always people who'd like it done just a little differently, often for good reasons.

    I say let her plan this however she wants and be honest with her that you can't attend because it's more than your comfortable spending for such an event now. You're no worse off than if she had never planned something to start with.

    Then, maybe in a while, you can organize something more casual and invite people. There may be others who couldn't go to the tea who'd be happy for another chance to get together. I wouldn't try to do it right around her event, because most people probably wouldn't do both and it might come off as you trying to ruin her event.
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

  10. #10
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    I understand your feelings completely. I have basically lost a friend over this sort of thing. She and her husband make about 1.5 times what my husband and I make. And they don't seem to get that we can't afford the places they want to go or the things they do. She ranted at me all the time that anyone who doesn't shop exclusively at Whole Foods doesn't care about their health and is irresponsible. She always wanted to go out to lunch at extremely expensive places--one where a salad and cup of soup would run around $20 as opposed to the deli where the same thing is around $6. When we went shopping, she would insult the stores I shop in (and it isn't as if I am buying clothes at WalMart) and tell me why her preferences that cost two or three times as much are so much better. She just didn't get it. And I couldn't handle being around it anymore.

  11. #11

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    I've seen this too, and while I know it always costs more to organize a private event at a hotel than it does to have the same food in the hotel's ordinary public restaurants, it still seems like a lot for a tea. (I assume this is a full tea, with sandwiches and so on...)

    One similar reunion that I was invited to had two components - an evening dinner at a nice restaurant, which cost $40 or so a person -- still a fair amount, imo, -- and a picnic the next day at a nice park, to which people brought families and food to share. There were definitely people at the picnic (besides kids) who weren't at the dinner, and I'm sure cost was a significant part of the reason. One of the nicest parts of the picnic was how people could move around much more casually than was possible at a sit-down dinner. Having both events was a nice way to do things.

  12. #12
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    Is your sister still in the organizing stage or has she already made all the arrangements? If it's the former then you can suggest to her why the price might be an issue for people that really do want to attend but can't for financial reason.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by marbri View Post
    She can't organize this around your needs but has to consider the group. It could be the afternoon tea idea was the best compromise for the needs of the group as a whole.
    I see your point, but it's hard for me to comprehend that you can't organize a get together that's less than $70 per head. If the point of the get together is to catch up with old friends then you can probably do a picnic for $60-$70 that will feed everyone, for example.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    I just got an email from my sister saying she is organising a bit of a reunion with people we went to primary school with and it will be an afternoon tea at a flash hotel. However it is really expensive (like $70 for just the afternoon tea).

    Nice thought, but unless it was something more affordable, I cannot afford to go and I have basically told her that. I am a disappointed though because I would have liked to catch up with the others who were going.

    I do have a choice to say no, but when it costs that much, I sometimes wish that the people organising would consider that others might not be as financially well off as what they are. Particularly when they are your family.
    What would be affordable for you?

  15. #15
    Beach Bum
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    When we went shopping, she would insult the stores I shop in (and it isn't as if I am buying clothes at WalMart) and tell me why her preferences that cost two or three times as much are so much better. She just didn't get it. And I couldn't handle being around it anymore.
    I don't blame you at all - what you describe sounds rude to me. And Whole Foods is nicknamed "whole paycheck" for a reason. (Plus, if she makes 1.5x what your family makes and spends 3x, she could find herself in a pickle later on in life.)

    $70 does sound high for a tea. That sounds like the champagne tea at the Ritz in London. One issue for your sister is that if she tried to book a small banquet or reserve a private lunch room, maybe there were be a deposit and a minimum? I found this when I was planning a bridal shower - I couldn't do it at my house which was being remodeled. Everywhere I tried to book a luncheon, there were deposits and minimum # of people/per head charges. It was January so I knew very well that weather could be a factor. When I called about the full afternoon tea at the Mayflower in DC ($36 USD pp with champagne), they were used to letting people make a larger reservations, but if there were cancellations, they would just remove some of the tables and no-one had to pay for no-shows. Sure enough, a snowstorm hit the east coast so several of the bride's friends/relatives did not make the drive from New York or New Jersey and I had 6 at the shower instead of 15. I was able to let them know 2 days early that it was 8 instead of 15, but there were still 2 no-shows at the last minute, so it was nice of the hotel to only charge me for the 6. I was prepared to pay for the 8, but they said this is their standard procedure - no problem at all. Perhaps your sister picked this so she wouldn't get stuck with the bill/deposit for a lunch/dinner?
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob View Post
    I don't blame you at all - what you describe sounds rude to me. And Whole Foods is nicknamed "whole paycheck" for a reason. (Plus, if she makes 1.5x what your family makes and spends 3x, she could find herself in a pickle later on in life.)
    Oh...I have no doubt that she will be in a financial hole eventually if she's not already. They have 3 brand new vehicles, 2 kids, 2 dogs, a cat and not a drop of money saved for retirement. Even the animals get high-priced organic food. And the kids go to an $8000 a year ballet school wearing custom made shoes--the sort that are made for professional dancers.

    Meanwhile, we have 2 used cars, one of which is paid for, some retirement savings, no kids and a rabbit.

    In the long term, we will probably be in better shape than them.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob View Post

    $70 does sound high for a tea. That sounds like the champagne tea at the Ritz in London.
    Depending on the size of the group, many hotels and tea rooms will insist that the party commit to the best tea service they offer (more efficient than individual orders), which usually is the champagne tea. They'll also often add in the service charge/tip for large groups at a rate of about 18%. There's also the 10% tax in Australia.

    So, it's possible that the tea is about $53 or so, which is about $48 US, which is actually not unreasonable for high tea at a hotel.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    So, it's possible that the tea is about $53 or so, which is about $48 US, which is actually not unreasonable for high tea at a hotel.
    That is a good point - with tax/tip it came to about $47 pp for the "royal" tea with champagne. But tea at the Mayflower in DC seems to be very economical because the base price is $65 for the champagne tea at the Plaza in NY.
    Last edited by Rob; 04-20-2010 at 03:56 PM.
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    I understand your feelings completely. I have basically lost a friend over this sort of thing. She and her husband make about 1.5 times what my husband and I make. And they don't seem to get that we can't afford the places they want to go or the things they do. She ranted at me all the time that anyone who doesn't shop exclusively at Whole Foods doesn't care about their health and is irresponsible. She always wanted to go out to lunch at extremely expensive places--one where a salad and cup of soup would run around $20 as opposed to the deli where the same thing is around $6. When we went shopping, she would insult the stores I shop in (and it isn't as if I am buying clothes at WalMart) and tell me why her preferences that cost two or three times as much are so much better. She just didn't get it. And I couldn't handle being around it anymore.
    So what's wrong with buying clothes at WalMart...?
    Nubka - Unpaid Slave Laborer...

  20. #20
    Hey, Kool-Aid!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nubka View Post
    So what's wrong with buying clothes at WalMart...?
    Oh snap
    Tessa and Scott: Thank you

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