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  1. #1
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    birthday party - cultural question

    My sister just turned 16 () and is throwing a big birthday bash - she had a group of girlfriends over and then they all went out to eat. One of the guests was Indian and showed up with other family members in tow... my parents were obviously not going to turn them out and paid for them to eat, but just came home from the restaurant feeling rather This isn't a big bring-anybody-you-know-facebook-open-event kind of party, and seeing as they're not old enough to drive alone yet, most parents just dropped their daughters off and then left.

    I'm wondering because a similar thing happened with my birthday party years ago (coincidentally also 16... man that was awhile ago). I invited an Indian girl that I had sort of gotten to know in Spanish class, the party was dinner at a medium-level restaurant, and she asked if she could bring her siblings. I was kind of taken aback but my parents said, not a big deal, we'll pay for their dinner as well... and then at the end, she pulled out her wallet clearly intending to pay. Obviously, I wasn't going to let them pay to come to my birthday party, and the poor girl was horribly humiliated. I'm sure she would have never dragged along all the siblings if she knew my parents would be footing the bill. (Dunno how my sister's guests will fare - they're still out.)

    I'm just curious - is there something cultural that I'm missing here? As in, is the custom that if you go to a party, you will be expected to pay for your stuff? I just want to be able to avoid this kind of misunderstanding in the future, as it's rather embarrassing all around. Or did we just hit two unusual cases that coincidentally both happened to be Indian?

    Thanks for any insight

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    I was taken aback by the idea that the parents would pay for everyone. From 16 on the way its done with most of my friends is everyone chips in to pay for the birthday girl/boy and then pays their own way. So in my circle, the Indian girls would fit right in, but it would be you that would be in for a nasty $$$ shock.

    When I was younger and had slumber parties, of course my parents paid. But after about 15ish, we would go out just as a family and my parents would pay, but anything beyond that, it was pretty much up to me and my friends.
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    This is the first I heard about paying for your birthday guests if you're going out. I could never afford to celebrate any birthdays if that was the case. Is it customary in the US?

    India = collective culture = much stronger family ties = not really surprised such situations are the case
    Last edited by Ziggy; 10-31-2011 at 09:30 AM.

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    For me too it's the first time I heard about paying for birthday guests. When I was young, perhaps I'd just invite my friend for a cake and some snacks at my home (and my parents paid for these), but since I was like 15-16 I went out to eat pizza and everyone paid his own part. Then, perhaps, I will offer like cake or the drinks, but eating otherwise was up to everyone.
    Don't know anything about India's culture in this situation.

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    For those asking about the US custom of paying for guests, at children/teens parties that are hosted by the parent for the child, yes, the host usually pays. As an adult everyone generally pays for.themselves and often the guests will cover the meal of the birthday celebrant.

    As for Indian.culture, I have no idea...

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    Yeah, in my area the custom is that if the parents throw the party, they're footing the bill. The whole pay for your own meal and split the birthday person's meal didn't come into play until we had part-time/summer jobs around 17-18 years old. (Sister + friends are in that age when they're just itching to get out from under parents' thumbs but can't help it because they can't drive anywhere just yet )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matryeshka View Post
    I was taken aback by the idea that the parents would pay for everyone. From 16 on the way its done with most of my friends is everyone chips in to pay for the birthday girl/boy and then pays their own way.
    That's pretty much how it is in my part of the US, too, although there are exceptions where the parents/hosts pay everything. It kind of depends on the financial status of the family.

    But either way, it is considered rude to bring extra guests to a party unless explicitly told that it's okay.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    This is the first I heard about paying for your birthday guests if you're going out. I could never affort to celebrate any birthdays if that was the case. Is it customary in the US?
    Not for adults - just for kids that still live at home and the parents do it rather than host a party in their home.
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