Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SPLITTING THE CHECK--Where is Miss Manners When I Need Her

Where is Miss Manners when I need her? I organized a group of women to go out for dinner to celebrate my friends 40th birthday. I carefully worded the invitation to say...let's all take xxx out for her birthday. We typically go to our club where splitting the check is always done and never a problem. The other organizer thought we should go to a restaurant.
She also thought that people did not expect us to pick up the tab.

One woman said that they would like to have a separate check. I called the restaurant to arrange this in advance and then went early to talk to our waiter. I decided to order a bottle of reasonably priced sparkling wine and said "put it on my bill"(thinking it would be separate).

When the bill arrived, it was not separated..I then offered to pay part the champagne and needless to say, the bill ended up being divided evenly. I walked away thinking.... this is not how I want to be viewed.

I wrote the owner of the restaurant a letter for other reasons, but it still brings up the same old problem...splitting the check. The head of Esquire Magazine said...after age 30, people should split the check evenly.

I just usually avoid these situations by having events a my home. What do you do?

13 comments:

suburban prep said...

This is a sore point for my husband and some member of his family. When I go out I usually try to have separate checks or to have it divided to the point where people pay for what they ordered. Otherwise it gets taken advantage of by others.
I agree in that having an event at a private home is best.

Mom x 2 said...

I agree iwth Esquire - evenly split is fine for adults. However, I do have 1 friend who doesn't have much money so when she and I go out for dinner, if I have a cocktail and she doesn't and I order a more expensive entree, we split it by what we got - that way she doesn't have to pay for my excesses. ;-)

Now, when I get invited to a birthday dinner, I expect to not only pay for my own entree, but to also pay for a share of the birthday lady's dinner. So if 8 women go out and it's one of the women's birthday, then the bill is split 7 ways and the birthday girl is treated. Is that not what happened here?

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

I cringe is what I do! Unless everyone ordered salads and one person orders lobster, leaving a HUGE difference between the orders, I think the check should just be split evenly. It's less complicated that way! If you are able to get separate checks, that works well too but many restaurants are not inclined to bring you 12 checks. I also find that when one party insists on paying for her exact amount consumed, another party ends up paying double because it never works out totally even and you can't stiff your servers.

Like I said....I cringe! I'm 30 and still have yet to feel comfortable when the bill comes with a mix group of friends.

Pink Preppy Party Girl said...

I just order sparkling wine which I want to treat everyone. Another woman brought a cake. So, I was trying to do something nice for the birthday girl and share it with everyone. Instead, they ended up paying for my gift. I think it would have been better for the woman who like a seperate check not to come or just come for a drink. This way, I would have paid for the wine in advance. That is what I will do in the future..still learning at 45.

Belle in Bloom said...

I left you a little something on my blog. Hope it helps. ;)

Muffy said...

I tagged you! Check it out on my blog! ;)

Amanda said...

Hmmm - so tricky. I often ask to have my liquor put on a separate tab and most restaurants will do that & then split the rest of the check evenly. If they hem and haw I just skip the drink. The appropriate thing to do is to visit a restaurant that everyone in the group can afford and split the check evenly. But since you're clearly feeling self-conscious, perhaps you could have the group over to your home for cocktails one night or send nice, small thank you gifts for attending your soiree to even the score.

Prep in the country said...

Hi I finaly found your blog. I can't wait to get reading, I've got so much catching up to do.

Elizabeth Crum --- "E!" said...

In groups of 3 or less, my girlfriends and I tend to try to pay for what we ordered. In groups of 4 or more, tho, we split it evenly unless someone has ordered something special and wishes to treat (as you did with the sparkling wine) or unless there are special circumstances.

Preppy Sue said...

I agree with Esquire, just split it evenly...it all evens out in the end!

Midwest Prep said...

It is ALWAYS an issue- some people never seem to leave enough money and some avoid the tip- It always seems to be a Tacky disaster! For my husband's birtday we went out to a nice restaurant with his closest friends and their sig others.( We aren't quite in a financial position to treat everyone) But because I wanted to off-set the cost for people who might not be in the same position as we are, I called ahead and purchased a few bottles for the table as well as a few appetizers. I made it clear that this would be paid for on my bill. It worked very well, our freinds felt treated- as did my husband, and everyone had a moderate bill with apps and drinks taken out of the equation. This has been my only success in this area-Seems like you did all you could! Sometimes things just go to pot.

The Mrs. said...

I am horrified by people who try to add up what each person had. If you're in for lunch or dinner you're in. That being said I like midwest preps idea of doing a few things for the table if you can if you are hosting. Otherwise pay up or stay home!

Legallyblondemel said...

Just found your blog - fun! Looking forward to reading through it.

Birthday dinners are often a tough situation . . . amongst most of my friends, the tradition is to split the check evenly, all splitting the birthday boy/girl's meal, unless the invite or situation (ie, hosted at one's home) clearly defines a host. I confess this is definitely my preference vs. separate checks for everyone.

We do have a few friends that insist on separate checks split by what was ordered. Without passing judgment on that, as I don't know their financial specifics, the end result is that we usually end up dining with them individually.