Paying for someone else's party?

I enjoy contributing extra food dishes or extra drink to someone else's dinner or event party if they want me to, because I love to cook and sometimes it just helps everyone out. Nor do I mind sometimes allowing guests to contribute to a party I am having, but here's a scenario I just encountered that is bothering me. I wondered if this was a common trend that I have missed, or that others have experienced in entertaining.

A good friend is having a "big" birthday. Family and other friends are throwing a big bash at a venue outside of a hosts' home in this person's honor. Formal invites have been issued, and the guests are required in the reply to provide a $40 per couple donation to cover the cost of the food and venue! I want to celebrate with my friend (who I don't believe knows about the required "donation") but even in a down economy, I find this to be tacky. The money is to be sent to someone I don't even of the hosts. Again, I'd have no problem bringing food and drink to help offset costs, but cash in advance to pay for a party I'm not hosting? Everyone involved here is of a significant age and career point, so we're not talking college age. Is it just me, or is this totally weird?


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