ROSE-HEDGEMONDDuring the holiday season there are many events to attend that there just don’t seem to be enough time or calendar space. However, what is the appropriate time, or method, to extend an invitation to guests when the request is “pay-your-own-way”?

For many, planning an event whether for a holiday social, birthday, bridal shower, etc., there are very important rules to social engagement and one of those rules is the manner in which an invitation is used, or extended. The social decorum rule for inviting guests with an invitation is the person who is inviting and “hosting” the event is the person who is expected the pay for the event. Why would you invite a person to lunch, dinner, or wherever and not pay unless, you clearly state the meeting is specifically “Dutch”— which is both parties agreeing to pay the bill separately.

However, what shall one do when an event or social gathering is organized and the event is “un-hosted?” One thing for certain, an invitation should not be used as the initial form of communication to notify guests only because essentially when inviting guests to spend their own funds is considered a social faux-pas. Who needs an invitation to spend their own funds?

So the dilemma presented is, what is the appropriate way for guests be invited to attend a party that is organized, un-hosted, requesting guests to pay to attend?

For starters, when the word “hosted” is used on an invitation it is insinuating the event is paid by the host, or a party of people working with the host. The point here is the event is paid for and guests should not be expected to pay to attend.

When planning an “un-hosted” event, make a list of the guests to attend. This list will come in handy as the organizer or coordinator, not the host, of the event will need to contact each person or guest, via phone or email, in lieu of sending a formal invitation.

When organizing or coordinating an event which is “un-hosted” a formal invitation should not be the initial method of communication to guests. Rather a phone call and/or email is sufficient – though this form of communication, not sending an invitation, may seem very informal, is quiet an appropriate action for an “un-hosted” event.

Once the organizer establish contact with guests of the party, a simple invitation may be released to attendees indicating “as a reminder” of the date, time & location of the event. Additionally, to remind guests of the average cost of the meal expected to be paid which should be reflected on the invitation note. This way the organizer is not inviting guests with an invitation – rather reminding guests of an event which was already discussed, and organized.

Rose Hedgemond is CEO of Avenues of Excellence and an etiquette and social protocol professional. Do you have an etiquette or social protocol question? Email her at or follow her on Facebook at Rose Hedgemond and Twitter @AOE_IN.