Enjoying delicious food is one thing, paying for the bill is another thing! If you have dined out with your family and friends, then you would have realized at some point that splitting the bill can be a headache. Even close friends can have misunderstandings about who pays for what, a scenario that can happen when you have different views on the matter or you have different financial capacities.
Fortunately, there are general guidelines about splitting the bill. You can agree beforehand, for example, about who pays for what but you can also rely on contemporary etiquette to save the day.
For Business Dinners
Before ordering your meals, you should check the prices on the menu – and most restaurants like Rock Bottom provide the information to customers so it’s an easy task. You can then decide how to split the bill between family, friends, and acquaintances with everybody walking away from the table satisfied about their contribution.
Keep in mind, however, that there are no hard and fast rules about splitting the bill when it comes to your personal relationships, such as with family and friends. But when it comes to business dinners, there are two unbreakable rules among professionals:
- The person who invited the other will pay for the meals, 100%. This is true whether the person who has been invited was a superior or a subordinate, a prospective client or present customer, and a supplier or vendor.
- The company for whom the invitee extended the invitation to dinner to the invited person pays for the dinner (i.e., executive expenses).
The cost of the meals are considered as business expenses that can be recouped a thousand times over in terms of goodwill and profits. Just be sure to make it clear that, indeed, it’s a business dinner so that there will be no misunderstandings between the diners.
For Personal Dinners
But for your personal dinners, the issue can become tricky. Everybody from the host to the guests should make a good effort so that they contribute fairly to the total bill. Ideally, nobody should feel like they have been taken advantage of or that anybody was being unfair in chipping in.
The general guidelines in splitting the check are:
- In a dinner with a date, no matter where the date takes place, the person who asked for the date will pay for the meal, 100%. This is true unless there was a prior arrangement that each one pays for his or her own respective meal, but it may not earn the man brownie points in the woman’s eyes. Even in modern times, men are still expected to pay for dates and they may have to wait until they are married to suggest splitting the bill with their spouses.
- In a double dinner date, the couples will split the cost evenly. Each couple can then decide whether to split the cost among themselves or let whoever invited the other to foot the bill. This should ideally be done in private so as not to embarrass the people in the group.
- Each couple can also ask for separate checks for their individual meals and drinks but the cost of the bottle of wine shared among themselves can be split among the two couples.
- In a dinner with an acquaintance, you can decide beforehand, too. But you may also evenly split the bill if the prices of the meals are similar (i.e., with just a few dollars difference). You may also ask for separate bills in case your meal is more expensive than your acquaintance’s meal or vice versa.
- In a dinner with close friends, you can split the check evenly. But many close friends also take turns treating each other to meals in restaurants. If your best friend is richer than you are and insists on paying for most of your meals, then graciously accept. But you should also make the effort to return the favor, even if it means you have to save for it or you have to go on a picnic.
- In a birthday dinner, everybody usually pitches in for the guest of honor –you, for example, if you’re the one celebrating your birthday. But if you’re throwing the birthday party for yourself, you shouldn’t expect the others to pay for your meal and drinks.
And then there’s the matter of splitting the bill when your friends ordered drinks but you didn’t for any reason. You don’t want to subsidize their drinking binge and fun when you’re on a water-only drink diet. But you also don’t want to offend your friends.
What do you do? You don’t have to feel obligated to split the total bill so you end up paying the same amount as the ones who enjoyed their drinks. You should instead take cash and tell them that it’s for your meal, even point out that you didn’t drink alcohol. You can then evenly split the tip for the waiter.