Let’s say you arrive late to a party at a restaurant. The party goers have been eating appetizers and drinking beer and cocktails. You arrive too late to eat any appetizers, but you could definitely order a drink or two if you were in the mood. You decide not to drink, because you drove into the city and you know you’ll be driving back home shortly.
The waitress comes around to take every one’s order. Seven of the eight party goers order dinner, including yourself. You and another guest order sushi, nothing big, and not very expensive. You’ve snacked before heading out to the restaurant and you just aren’t hungry enough to order a large and expensive meal. Despite the lack of appetite you manage to make a dent in your sushi and enjoy a very tasty meal with very good company.
Now the check arrives. You haven’t had anything to drink other than water and you’ve eaten a relatively inexpensive meal, but with the addition of the drinks and appetizers from the other party goers the bill is quite large. You fully expect everyone to split the cost of the birthday girl’s dinner and drinks, but what should you do about the overall bill?
Should you split the check among the remaining guests, not including the birthday girl? What about the party goer who never ordered dinner? Maybe he drank a beer or two or snacked on an appetizer, but should he really be expected to split the bill equally?
What about you, you arrived late and only ate a small dinner, should you be expected to pay for the food and drinks other people enjoyed? Would it bother you to split the check? Do you think you should only have to pay for the food and drinks you ordered? Remember, no one wants to make a big scene at a friend’s birthday party. You’ve had a great time visiting with friends, but now everyone is clearly uncomfortable with the situation, so what should you do?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. If you were in this situation what would you do?
* I don’t want to skew your thoughts, so I’ll let you know what I think of the situation and what I did after I read your comments.
10 thoughts on “What Would You Do?”
I would say, contribute cash for exactly what you ordered, plus your share of the bday girl's food and drinks. Everyone else should do the same.
I'd pay cash and pay for mine plus $10 extra to cover a portion of the birthday girl's dinner.
I would pay what I owe and a portion of birthday girl's food… The only time I split the bill is when the meals ordered are pretty similar in price…
Same as everyone else: Pay for my meal and anything else I had (+tax and tip) and then pay for approximately 1/N (N=guests of the birthday girl) of her total expenses (drinks, appetizers, meals, desserts, etc., including tax and tip). I'd round up a little when paying for the birthday girl, since I've noticed we never have enough to cover the birthday girl's food (no one accounts for all the expenses).
I'm thinking about what I would do if I was one of the friends that was there at the beginning, bought a lot of food, drinks. And I think it would be basically the same thing. Pay for your consumption, + birthday girl/boy's consumption. And it's even easier if there's no guest of honor.
I have a feeling you were guilted into paying more than your share at a recent get together?
Ditto to Sunflowers' comment.
This happened to DH and I about 2 years ago for one of his friends bday. It was at a hibachi type place and we arrived on time. DH and I and another couple we know got there on time and went to the bar to wait for our table (nobody else had arrived yet). DH ordered a drink and an appetizer, as did the other couple. When the time came to move to our table, the drinks were done as were the appetizers, so we paid our bill right there (we did halfsies with the other couple since the stuff was all the same price).
Onto the dinner. some of the people that arrived later then us ordered drinks/appetizers at the bar, then had the tab transferred over as they weren't finished. The bday boys friends were all lushes and drank quite a lot. DH and I ordered soft drinks, as did the other couple we knew. We did not order any appetizers. A lot of the others ordered expensive drinks and appetizers (bday boy included). Well, when the check came, it was ENORMOUS! I put in for mine and DH's meal, plus tax plus tip, plus $20-$30 for the bday boys portion. Then we passed the bill along to the other couple and I told them how much we put in (same as before, they ordered the same meals/drinks as we did.). They put in the same. WELL, apparently the other people in the party felt like making US pay for them getting drunk so they can drive themselves home (I don't think so). At this point, DH excused himself to the bathroom as did his friend, leaving me and the other wife to deal with it (DH knows how I am, so he felt it best to 'go to the little boys room'). So, the friends decided that everyone needed to put in $40 extra a head to cover the bill. That's $80 MORE then we already put in, our fair share plus a generous amount for the bday boy. When the bill came around, I just passed it along, and got looks from everyone. So when one friend came over to me, I told him how it was. I don't believe in drinking and driving, and there was no way in 'curse word' I was going to pay for people to do so. The drinks were average $10-$15 each and each person had AT LEAST 3-4. That's $30 to $65 right there on DRINKS. Where do they get off putting in $40 for their share, plus tax, plus tip, plus bday boy money? Not in my book! I didn't want to cause a scene, but I did. I work hard for my money and I wasn't going to let some idiot people take advantage of my hard earned money. OH, plus the tab from the BAR as well, on top of 3-4 drinks each. DH came back just in time of the bday boys friend (a male) in my face. DH knows I can handle my own and doesn't need to 'defend' me. Basically, I told the kid to back off me or he was going have to deal with the consequences. He backed off b/c a waiter/host came over to see what the ruckus was. All in all, we paid our fair share and let the morons pay for their own drinking and driving lesson. I sure as anything won't partake in them going out and killing someone and pay for their drinks…no way in anything would I do that.
Rant over 🙂
If you can, take the bill when it arrives. Add up the tax, tip, and birthday girl's expenses and divide by the number of people there. Tell the people within earshot to add an additional $x to whatever they spent. Put in your cash and pass the whole thing down.
If the group you're with doesn't have a standard way of splitting the check already, then usually whoever grabs the bill first (and can do the math) determines how it will be split.
A simple way to handle this in the future is to ask for a seperate check for yourself and DH. When the time comes to pay, you give $10-$20 or whatever would be appropriate depending on the group size and the cost of where you have gone to dinner to cover the birthday girl/boy's dinner/drinks. You end up feeling like you chipped in for the birthday person and you don't end up footing the bill for other people and feeling anger over it.
In my opinion it is much better to prevent the situation than to deal with it when it ultimately always comes up.
I'd pay for what I ate plus a portion of the birthday girl's food, plus tips on my amount and her amount.
If anyone called me on it, I would (politely) say, "I ordered $20 worth of food. I am willing to pay for that, plus tax and tip and my share of the guest's tab. I am not in the position to pay for other people."
People can say what they want to say. I will not subsidize other people's eating and drinking unless I have invited them to be my guests.
That said: If everyone ordered more or less the same, I'm fine with splitting the bill.
And I agree that asking for a separate check at the start is the right way to go. Some places won't do that; in that case, be sure to read the bill to pick out what yours cost, plus tax and tip.
I loved all of these comments and under normal circumstances I completely agree with your advice.
However, in this situation I did not act frugally. Read more about my decision here.