Experts agree that it would be better to reduce the guest list or food options than ask guests to pay (See Ref. 1,2).

Holding a birthday party at a restaurant can be expensive, and asking guests to purchase their dinners can be awkward. According to etiquette experts, it's best to be up-front yet polite about this detail, whether with a written or verbal invitation.

Tact is Essential suggests adding a tactful message to an emailed invitation, such as "Separate checks will be provided." It could be noted that paying for your own meal is in lieu of presents Etiquette experts at suggest listing a particular price at the bottom of the invitation, in the corner opposite the RSVP information. They note, however, that it may be best to communicate this detail in person or by phone. . The Emily Post Institute recommends forgoing a written invitation in favor of a phone call, during which the plan to split the tab is discussed