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Is is right to sell tickets to a retirement party?

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Whether tickets should be sold for attendance at any kind of party, particularly one celebrating a personal occasion, depends on many circumstances.

I've attended parties for old friends retiring from government positions and other work which doesn't allow the employer - in some cases, the taxpayer - to fund a large function.

One such occasion was huge, celebrating many years of service to the state by a wonderful person and attended by colleagues from the retiree's own department as well as from associated departments, as well as by many friends and acquaintances. The function was held at private rooms in a club of which many of us are members.

There's no way the retiree or any single group of friends could've afforded to pay for the function. Legally, the employer couldn't use taxpayer funds to pay for it A small door price was charged, sufficient to cover rooom hire and food; drinks were ordered and paid for individually.

A few people at the club that evening wandered into the function, unaware we were paying for tickets - there was no big sign up!- and someone would just quietly put in a few dollars on their behalf.

It was a fantastic party which couldn't have happened any other way. At the end of a marvellous evening there was a surplus, which was handed to the staff as a thanks for their great efforts in getting the right drinks to the right people during a long night's partying, as well as keeping trays of food going around.

Had the function been just a few friends and colleagues, it would have been arranged differently. It seems unfair to expect the guest of honour to pay for these parties, and when they're arranged by others then it's reasonable for those attending - or at least those organizing the function - to help out with costs. Guests at smaller, informal parties can be asked to bring their own drinks and, maybe, food.

Generally speaking, if a person arranges a function for themselves, for any occasion, they should pay. If a function is being arranged for another person, the organizers should pay. If the circumstances are such that a few organizers shouldn't be expected to pay for a lot of guests, then things must be arranged appropriately.

A restaurant function could be organized on a set-menu basis, where each person pays per-head, or the organizers pay the per-head cost.

If the function is large, and circumstances make it appropriate, it's fair to ask for some kind of contribution.

This isn't a yes-or-no situation with 'correct' or 'incorrect' answers, 'right' or 'wrong' solutions: it all depends on individual circumstances.

As a rule of thumb, as with other situations involving social - and many other - occasions, very frequently what 'feels' right is right.

You wouldn't dream of arranging your own retirement, or any other, party at an expensive restaurant with lavish food, drinks and entertainment, without consultation with your guests, and then sell tickets to it.

On the other hand, it would be unfortunate to exclude many guests from taking along their good wishes to someone retiring, or celebrating any other milestone, simply because of arbitrary considerations of propriety.

Where many people would want to farewell a liked and respected colleague and friend, propriety - if we must use the term - should suggest our first consideration be to achieve a memorable party in the best way we possibly can.
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