We’ve all been there. You’ve just had a great meal and an enjoyable evening with your friends or family, and then the check comes. It’s time for that awkward moment when everyone looks at each other to see who goes for their wallets. Soon after, arguments will likely ensue as to who is paying for what, only to end with someone paying something, and likely spending the rest of the evening wondering if they paid too much or too little. If the scenario sounds familiar, we’re to help with some tips for easily and painlessly determining who should pay for dinner when you’re out with your friends and family.
When it comes to paying for dinner with a group of people, there are a few golden rules that should be followed. The most important is that in most instances if you’ve invited everyone out to dinner, you should be picking up the check. Likewise, if you were invited as a guest, you probably won’t be expected to buy dinner.
However, there are a few scenarios where there’s much more of a grey area. For instance, if you’re going out with a group of friends and you all mutually agreed on the night out, the best thing to do is for all couples to pay for themselves. Traditionally, dinner checks have been split evenly, but this can lead to some uncomfortable situations, especially if some of the party don’t drink. Your best bet is to establish with your waiter which couples are together from the get-go and ask for separate checks.
If you find yourself going out with just one other couple (a double-date night) you might decide to simply trade-off when it comes to buying dinner. You and your partner can pick up the check one night, knowing that the other couple will get it on the next trip out.
If you’re out with family members, things can get a little trickier. When you’re younger and you’re out dining with your parents, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to pick up the tab. However, when you’re older and financially stable, treating your folks to dinner out is definitely something you should consider.
The exception to all of these rules is if you’re out with someone and you’re celebrating something special, like a birthday. In that case, you should offer to cover the tab for the guest of honor. If you’re out with a big group of friends, simply ask ahead of time if anyone has any objections to divvying up the birthday girl’s tab among the rest of you.
Occasionally, you’ll get a friend or family member who simply insists on paying for dinner. There’s no sense in getting into an uncomfortable debate at the table. If you sense that someone is dead-set on covering the bill, give them a courteous “Are you sure?” and concede. Just remember to thank them!