Adult Birthday Party Etiquette

Etiquette and Advice from the Emily Post Institute
Adult Birthday Party Q&A

Q.  My best friend is turning 50 and I?d like to throw her a party. Suzi has a wicked sense of humor: so do you think we could lay on the gag gifts?

A. If the party is going to be informal with lots of close friends, humorous gag gifts are great. You know your best friend just about better than anyone. If you think the gifts are funny, she probably will too. The worst scenario is when all the gifts are opened and yours is the only offbeat "over the hill" present. Gauge your audience and consider giving a thoughtful gift too.
Q. My husband says he doesn?t want me to throw him a 30th birthday party ? but I want to! All our friends throw birthday parties for their spouses!

A. You need to respect your husband?s wishes. The last thing any of us want to do is make someone we love feel uncomfortable and that?s what throwing an unwanted party would do. Maybe he would be very happy to go out to dinner with your closest friends or go golfing with his buddies and you could all meet up informally afterward. Or maybe what he?s really looking for is a quiet evening with you. Give him what he wants on his special day.
Q.  My uncle is celebrating his 75th birthday and my aunt is hosting a huge party for him. Uncle Patrick has been kind to me and protective of me since I was a little girl. I would like to give him something special in celebration of this significant birthday. The invitation says "No gifts, please." Surely they must expect that people will still bring gifts!

A. "No gifts, please" means?no gifts: showing up with a present when asked not to can embarrass the hosts, the honoree, and the other guests who, correctly, didn't bring anything. If you want to give a token of your affection, do so at another time. I am sure he would feel honored to receive flowers or a small but meaningful gift with a kind note expressing your feelings.
Q.  My brother and I are throwing a 60th birthday party for our mom. It?s going to be a large and fairly formal affair with all of her friends and business associates. I would like to put her age on the invite, I?m thinking of the below text. Is this appropriate?
Donna Jonahs and Rudy Upham
hope you will be with us
to celebrate the 60th birthday of our mother
Arlene Foster Upham
At dinner
Etc.


A. You know your mom. Do you think she would mind? If you aren?t sure, you should check before printing the invites. Though people today tend to be less sensitive about their age, it?s still a very personal issue. With business colleagues in attendance, she might be more sensitive than usual. Good manners dictate asking permission before revealing anyone?s age.


About the
Emily Post Institute
The Emily Post Institute, created by Emily in 1946 and run today by third generation family members, serves as a "civility barometer" for American society and continues Emily's work. That work has grown to address the societal concerns of the 21st century including business etiquette, raising polite children and civility in America.
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