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When I was in middle school, I had a friend I was very fond of. The two of us (and a handful more people) formed a very close group with strong bonds. Most of all, what united us was probably our common aversion to things such as loud music and "traditional party culture". This led us to have our own parties, usually very tame. We had a lot of fun and this became sort of a tradition.

When high school came, this friend went to the dark side. She became popular in her new school and now throws the craziest parties, with the loudest music, insane amounts of booze and loads of new friends who love "partying hard". Me (and all the other friends from the old group) haven't changed and we absolutely hate those parties. We are usually left uncomfortable in a corner, trying to talk.

How can I avoid this friend's parties without offending her and also make it clear that I still like her and care for her?

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You say that

what united us was probably our common aversion to things such as loud music and "traditional party culture".

So she probably knows that you don't like taking part in loud and large parties. You can remind her why your group formed in the first place with no fear of friction. Make clear that it's not about her, but about loudness, awkwardness, feeling alone etc. You may also tell her that you feel that your presence doesn't add any fun to the party. It's a lose-lose situation.

That's why you can propose her to have two birthday parties: one as loud and as big as she can, and the other with your group, in the "traditional form". It's possible that in her eyes having two parties might look even better than having just one.

Another option is to throw an "organisation party" just before the big one. In short, you take your time to help her baking cakes, preparing games, decorating her house etc. This way you show her you care for her and for the outcome of her party, whichever style she decides this party should be. Afterwards, as suggested in the comments, you could decide to stay just for the beginning of the party, when there aren't many people yet, and leave when the roaring crowd arrives.

6

LinuxBlanket has a great suggestion! If she's amenable, your group could take her out to a birthday dinner before the party or another evening.

If she's not into the 2 events idea then you could also attend only for the main events (cutting cake, opening presents) and then leave before more drinking and loud music continues. Unless she has a set itinerary, parties like this will have a slow lull in the beginning and gradually grow as the evening progresses. You and the group could arrive earlier in the evening and head out before things become very crazy as she'll be going around socializing.

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