DEAR ABBY: I am knee-deep in a quandary. I have a 30-something-year-old friend who throws herself a girls-only birthday party every year.
This soiree always takes place at a nice restaurant selected by the hostess, where guests are expected to pay for their own drinks and meals. The cost usually runs from $60 to $80 per person. In addition, each guest is expected to bring the "birthday girl" a gift.
In years past, I have come up with excuses in order to get out of attending. This year I learned through the grapevine that I'm not the only one who is reluctant to go.
With the economy being what it is, I cannot justify the expenditure of attending this party. How would you suggest I go about being removed from the guest list this year (and in the future)? -- COUNT ME OUT IN SAN JOSE
DEAR COUNT ME OUT: Tell the "birthday girl" you have other plans this year. Then talk to the other guests on the list for this annual tribute and suggest that all of you get together mid-year to celebrate your collective birthdays, with the understanding that your treasured friendship should be the only gift allowed.