DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have received a few invitations to retirement parties that have come with rather a hefty price tag ($150 per couple). This entrance fee is used to pay for catering, photographer, decorations, venue, etc. When I have questioned this practice of having other people pay for someone’s party, I was told that it was OK because technically, the retiree isn’t throwing the party -- a friend is.
I don’t believe it is ever OK to throw yourself, or anyone else, a party and then expect others to pay for it. What say you?
GENTLE READER: Unlike the legal system, etiquette does not write its rules into precisely worded statutes that can be pored over by lawyers, judges, and people who are less clever than they believe and have more free time than is good for them. This means that there are fewer technicalities in the etiquette business: Having no letter of its laws leaves etiquette free to concentrate on the spirit. (It also saves the cost of employing lawyers, judges and jailers.)
But whoever told you the rule cited above got it wrong. There are two rules in play: The first is that one does not properly throw a party to honor oneself; the second, that hosts do not properly charge guests for their hospitality. Miss Manners is willing to accept technicalities as honoring the first (a husband throwing a party for a wife’s retirement, for example), but the violation of the second is clear.