GUEST'S ANSWER: Hilarie Blaney, etiquette and international protocol consultant: I think you have several options, but not knowing the financial condition of the 11 makes it hard to give just one way of dividing the expenses. If you have differing levels of income or circumstances, you all will need to get creative. The most practical way to divide the expenses would be:
(1) Divide the cost of the party by 11 and everyone is responsible for their own personal expenses for attending the party.
(2) If you need to get creative: Divide the cost of the party, travel and hotel by 11.
(3) Allow those that can't afford to contribute to remain a host by taking the responsibility for the execution of the plans. They could save you a significant amount by decorating, cooking, designing invitations, pay for mailing, etc.
(4) Allow the people that can't attend to decide if they still want to contribute and/or be considered a host. These relatives could also help in ways to cut costs, save time or offer talents that can be used from afar.
The size of your group more than likely includes people with many circumstances, financial situations, levels of creativity and available time.
I think appointing one person to gather the thoughts or requests from the group and create something that is equitable for all concerned is best.
If all of the 11 have equal lifestyles, your best choice would be (1).
Callie Gordon is twenty-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.newsok.com/partiesextra.