I'm planning on throwing a surprise 40th birthday party for my boyfriend in a few months and the logistics are getting a bit tricky. So far the guest list is about 35 people, and we decided that the only kids present will be family-member children (as most of the invitees have young kids, it would have doubled the guest list and made it much more costly). I figure no one can really complain about having to get a sitter when there are only 4 children present and they are nephews/nieces/etc.
Here's the trick...money. 35 people is a lot to feed. My boyfriend has dropped a strong hint about a sushi place being a "wonderful place to have a birthday party", as it has a private room upstairs that can accomodate 50 people. I can see the cost of this party going into the $1500 and up range, possibly even $2000 with room rental/decorations/drinks. I was finalizing the guest list with one of his friends and he and his wife both said I should ask attendees to contribute to the cost of food, say $20 each person. Part of me finds it tacky to plan a party but ask the guests to pay a portion of their food. But alternately they told me "you shouldn't have to pay for adults to eat, especially when we all have jobs". True. But I feel as if I'm sort of "hosting" and almost feel obligated to foot the whole bill. But my bank balance likes the idea of the guests chipping in half the cost of food and maybe pay their drinks after one toast. That way my food bill is cut in half and I won't get killed on a bar bill if I just pay for a few bottles of wine and it goes cash bar after that.
What's the general consensus? And if I do ask for guests to contribute, how should I go about it (and actually collect the money-send in? leave a box on the table at the party?). I'm basically sending out an evite for the party, since I have everyone's email.