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Group dining etiquette poll

1. If there is a significant variation in the price and quantity of food and beverages ordered by people in the group, is it still fair to divide the cost of the check evenly?

2. If a birthday celebrant invites people over for dinner in a restaurant, is he responsible for the bill because he's hosting, or should the group pay for the birthday person's share?

3. Split the check, yes or no?

4. Is it gauche to use a calculator?

My answers:

1. It's a question of fairness versus ease. If there is a wide variation in socioeconomic status in the group (e.g., mix of graduate students and financial analysts) , I think fairness trumps inconvenience and people should pay what they ate and drank. Otherwise, split the cost evenly.

2. Treat the birthday person.

3. Ask the server at the first opportunity if it's all right to split the check. Otherwise, see #1.

4. The use of technology itself is neutral, but it is the sentiment behind using the calculator that may be considered boorish. I don't think it's boorish to want to pay only for what you consumed. I'm tempted to mention a few anecdotes when I was a starving grad student, but I'll spare you.

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  1. 1. If it's an expensive meal then it's not fair and you should pay for what you eat/drink, otherwise if it's 25$ instead of 20$ i don't really mind..
    2. Who invites ppl to celebrate their own birthday at a restaurant lol.
    3.agree with you
    4. ok by me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Evilbanana11

      On your number 2, HUH?! Lots of people do. I just attended a b'day party of one of my SIL's. She invited her family to a restaurants. Lots of my friends do. The inviter always pays.

    2. 1. If you agree to group dine...be prepared to share the cost of others choices if the "group" decides to "just split it"....i.e. know your friends and don't dine with cheap, arrogant, or picky people.
      2. Inviting people to your own Bday dinner is tacky. Have a BBQ and treat your friends.
      3. Just split it- otherwise you end up worrying about a $3.00 difference and it looks stupid.
      4. Learn to roughly count by TENS and not use a calculator. 20 percent of 100 bucks is 20 bucks. How hard is that?

      1. 1. If there is a significant variation in the price and quantity of food and beverages ordered by people in the group, is it still fair to divide the cost of the check evenly? *I never think this is fair and you always come up short. Either get separate checks or someone needs to play Mother and calculate what each person owes, plus tax and tip and give each person an amount due.

        2. If a birthday celebrant invites people over for dinner in a restaurant, is he responsible for the bill because he's hosting, or should the group pay for the birthday person's share? *If you invite people, you are hosting and should pay. Some people may offer to contribute, but they are not obligated to. If you can't afford to pay, don't have the party.

        3. Split the check, yes or no? *Is this a stand-alone question? Or are you saying if you're in a big party, should you split the check? Either way, my answer is yes.

        4. Is it gauche to use a calculator? *No.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rockandroller1

          "1. If there is a significant variation in the price and quantity of food and beverages ordered by people in the group, is it still fair to divide the cost of the check evenly? *I never think this is fair and you always come up short."

          My experience, especially when out with a group of women friends, has been just the opposite. Without even having a conversation about it, when there is significant variation in the way we've ordered, the bill generally gets passed around the table, and we each put in what we feel we owe, tax and tip included. Invariably, the amount collected comes to much more than the total would have been if we had split the bill evenly and added a 20% gratuity. I think it's tacky for anyone to play "Mother." We're all responsible adults. If someone wants to take the responsibility for splitting the amount equally and calculating the total with the tip, fine. But it'd be off-putting to me to have someone figuring what each person around the table owed, based on their order.

        2. 1) either way, but i have no problem splitting the bill. over a lifetime these things even out, or at least amortize out to being no big deal

          2) depends how formal the invitation is. with good friends, its often the b-day person who picks the place and makes the calls. but i say people should not have to pay for themselves on their birthday, much less pay for others. i say treat the b-day person, regardless of how it was arranged.

          3) splitting the check seems tacky. we should be able to all do simple math, no?

          4)see # 3 re math.

          1. 1. I think it really depends on the situation. I think it's unfair in a group situation to ask people who don't drink alcohol to split the bill for the alcohol no matter what the situation. I also think it's important to take people's economic situations into account. If you're with someone who has lost her job and you have a fairly stable one, chances are your friend will be ordering what she can afford while you're ordering something that's more within your budget. I've been in that situation before where I make sure to order only what I can afford, only to be told I am a stingy person who has money problems because I won't cover someone else's bill.

            2. It seems odd to invite people to a restaurant to celebrate your birthday and the spring it on them that they need to pay the bill. Typically it should be the friends inviting the birthday person out, not the birthday person picking the restaurant and expecting everyone to foot the bill.

            3. It depends on the group of friends. I had one group of friend with whom we always ended up being way over what we needed if we had one bill, while others would end up really short. If you know you're with the former group, then there's no reason to bother the server with splitting the bill. If you know you're with the latter group, then ask the server when you arrive if it is okay to split the bill.

            4. Nothing wrong with using a calculator.