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Through social media like Facebook I often know when it's someone's birthday. What's the best way to find out if the person is having a birthday party and if you're invited? Last year a mutual friend invited me to someone's birthday party and it was a lot of fun. Since then, I ran into him a few times and have him on Facebook. Today was his birthday and heard he was having a party. I wasn't sure how to ask?

If you're having a party, can I come?

sounds a bit impersonal.

I'm 26 and live on the West Coast. I'm focusing this question towards people that I do know and can contact, but I don't know very well.

While I agree one generally doesn't invite them self, it may change things if guests are already inviting other guests. Also sometimes significant other's are automatically invited.

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Normally you don't invite yourself

If you don't know someone very well you can't know whether that person wants to invite only very close friends to his birthday party or if it's going to be a big party where basically everyone is welcome. He may not view you as a friend he is close enough to warrant inviting this year.

Asking him bluntly whether you can come makes this an awkward situation if what I wrote is true in this case. He may not want to invite more people, for example because there is not any more room or because he simply forgot about you when sending out invitations, and acknowledging either will not be easy.

You can ask whether he has anything planned

"Happy birthday! Anything planned for the party?" is a perfectly fine question. It shows that you are interested and want to know what he is doing. He may tell you "Just watching a film with a couple close friends." or something similar - in that case you are not invited and should take the hint. Or he might say something like "Yeah, big barbecue - wanna join?" in which case you are invited.

In any case the first one or two sentences will tell you what you want and it's best to just leave it at that. You have already shown that you know about the event and are interested in his life and now it's up to him and how he wants to spend his birthday.

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    (+1) This answer also avoids the case when it turns out you don't want to go to the party, for an extreme example consider "Anything planned for the party?", "Yeah, we're going to play Russian roulette, wanna come?", "Unfortunately I'm kinda busy today so I can't come" while if you ask him "can I come?" he can simply say "Sure why not it's at 9'o clock" (and when you come to the party you're up for a surprise). – kingW3 Jan 13 '18 at 13:04
  • In the way you worded those examples it seems obvious if they want you to come or not, but it may not always be that apparent. For example "any plans?" response "having friends over at my place or "going out for dinner" then what would you say? – bluevapor Jan 13 '18 at 14:13
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    @bluevapor In that case you are not invited. If the other person does not explicitly ask you to join they do not include you. – Secespitus Jan 13 '18 at 14:21
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    @bluevapor "Cool, have a good time", if he simply says thanks, you're probably not invited. – Yousend Jan 18 '18 at 12:39
  • @Secespitus maybe you didn't mean this as literally but you don't need explicitly to hear the words "you are invited". For example my friend said he was going to location x at time y to celebrate his birthday, and even though he didn't explicitly say "you're invited" when I showed up he said "glad you could make it out". – bluevapor Mar 6 '18 at 11:44
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Can you message him and say something like "your party last year was so much fun! Are you doing anything this year?" You're practically begging for an invite but maintaining a smidgen of self respect by not blatantly saying "can I get an invite?"

If you want to be more casual about it, go with the other poster above who suggested just asking what the guy is planning for his birthday.

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How do I ask if I'm invited to a birthday party?

Don't, plain and simple.

If the organiser of the party wanted you there, they would have asked. If, for some reason, your invite got misplaced, they should follow up on it if you haven't RSVP'ed (that's why it's always polite to respond even if you're not going).

Asking if someone's going to have a party, or whether you're invited, just sounds desperate and is unlikely to ingratiate you with anyone.

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Inviting yourself or attempting to be invited to a party is one of the biggest social taboos. It will be seen as disrespectful by the host. One problem with it is that if you ask if you are invited to a party, and the host didn't intend to invite you, they are put in the socially difficult situation of having to say "no" to you in person, or to bow to pressure and say "yes" to avoid this awkward situation, but which can lead to them resenting this later.

This is the case even with the biggest parties: weddings, milestone (21/30/40/50) birthdays, funerals. If you don't want to risk being seen as disrespectful or being resented, don't ask someone if you're invited to a party.

There are some fairly straightforward reasons you may not have got an invitation.

  • They don't enjoy having you at parties with them for whatever reason.
  • They don't want too large a party and have limited it to closer friends or family.
  • They intended to invite you but you haven't got the invitation yet.

So while there could be a rejection of you personally, there's a good chance the reason is relatively innocent and not personally a rejection of you.

There is not much you can do, unfortunately, to enquire about which it is now. The issue with asking "are you planning anything?" is that at this stage, the question can readily be identified as disingenuous: they will already know there's a good chance you've seen it on Facebook already and that therefore the question is not genuine. And, it's at the point in time when the party would have to be planned already if there was one. This question is only without risk if you ask it before they are likely to have planned the party or invited anybody.

Invitations are often lost in the mail (weddings typically send invitations in snail mail) and people often miss out of going as a result. You can only really mitigate this as host: confirm by text message or email in addition to sending the formal invitation. One time, we realised after the fact that a few guests did not attended parties for our kids because their invitations were lost; we'll try to confirm by email or text when we can.

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