Thanks! I've got to narrow down the menu in the next couple of days. I also realized I forgot to include the vital info re: my region. I'm in Philadelphia. As for my generation, of course, I'm 39 (for a couple more weeks;)).
Great thread. I am throwing a 40th birthday party for myself in a couple of weeks (I'm single - figured I'd embrace, rather than wallow). I was talking with some friends (in their early thirties) about ideas, e.g., what venue, should it be a sit-down dinner, or just hors d'ouevres, open bar, etc. My friends suggested I ask a small group to join me for dinner, include a copy of the menu I've agreed upon with the restaurant, including prices and then host an open bar after the dinner for a larger group, with the expectation that the group pay their share for dinner, and then host an open bar after the dinner, inviting a larger group, with the expectation that I would pick up that tab.
I'm glad I decided not to follow this advice. First of all, it seemed to complicated to manage, and I wasn't sure how I felt about having 2 different "classes" of invitees. Second of all, while these friends thought it was perfectly acceptable to ask the dinner guests to pay (they just thought I needed to make this clear in the invitation - and thought by asking the folks to "join me" and providing the menu/costs with the invite and making it clear that I didn't want gifts) I didn't feel right to me. I ultimately decided to invite everyone to a gastropub, which has a private room, and paying for heavy hors d'oeuvres and open bar.
I hope the event goes well . . . It's in 2 weeks!