I'm hestitant to even ask this question after reading threads like this one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869326
but I really would like some advice. Here's the deal: I want to invite about a dozen people to celebrate my birthday in a few weeks with dinner at a popular local restaurant, and I want to make clear that they will be my guests, ie I intend to pick up the tab, without being crass about it. The reason I want to make this clear is I don't want anyone to be hesitant about attending because dinner at this place is out of his/her budget. Plus if everyone knows I'm paying for dinner I may get more presents. Yes, that's a joke, but I am seriously puzzling over how best to word the invitation. I should add that amongst my group of friends, the norm for birthday dinners at restaurants is everyone pays for themselves and maybe chips in for the birthday boy/girl, so if I don't make clear that I'm hosting that won't be people's expectation.
Part two of the question: because this is very popular restaurant and the dinner is on a weekend night, I need people to reply promptly so that I can confirm the headcount for the reservation. Suggestions on how to encourage this without resorting to "RSVP requested by [date]," which seems like overkill for a small group dinner?
Thanks in advance!