This means we each put our credit cards in and literally split the bill. This doesn’t mean the people who leave the group dinner early ask for the bill and then parse out what they ate or didn’t eat or drank or didn’t drink and then decide on an amount they are willing to pay. This means that you factor in the birthday guy or gal’s meal, taxes, tip and general common courtesy. THIS ALSO MEANS THAT YOU STOP MAKING CALCULATING THE BILL SUCH A BIG FAT NIGHTMARE. (Can you tell I just had to deal with this nonsense?)
Enough already, we get it, not everyone eats the same amount or drinks the same amount or wants dessert or wants appetizers. If you’re already asking about how the bill is being divided up or how we are paying for the meal before anything is ordered, than maybe you should skip the dinner. Or maybe you should grab McDonald’s to-go and eat in in your car before you get to the restaurant.
But that’s silly. You should go to the dinner and enjoy knowing that it will all come out in the wash. It will be a wash, really. The little extra you might spend right now at this dinner means that the next time your friends might pick up one of your drinks, or get your valet for you. Come on, join the human race—the race where most of us are trying to get along and not create enemies at dinner.
However, if you don’t drink alcohol at all, but attended the dinner, your friends might be gracious enough to make your share of the bill less or agree that you should pay less of a tip or no tip at all. This makes sense. My friends do this for me on occasion when I’m the designated driver or don’t want to drink that night. And I truly appreciate it. But it doesn’t make sense for you to pay less if you partook in the entire meal and just want to be a cheapskate. (FYI—everyone is watching.) It especially doesn’t make sense to make such a fuss about the bill, if you’re at a birthday meal and you’re acting like this without having brought a birthday gift for the birthday person. Your birthday gift should be your flexibility; your ability to allow the meal to be a true birthday meal without drama and to treat the birthday person. Goodnight! The dinner I just ate at had the whole table on edge and the birthday girl having to deal with how people were paying the bill. The birthday girl seemed stressed out about it long after we left the restaurant. Fun way to celebrate your birthday if you ask me.
Alternatively you could avoid this entire mess and as the host you could pay for everyone’s meal. That’s how they did it in the olden days. Or you could go directly to Miss Manners herself to see how to handle this type of situation in present day, and so I quote from the www.emilypost.com website:
“If you’re organizing a special occasion out at a restaurant or bar to celebrate a friend’s birthday or other life or career milestone, you can’t expect your friend to pay her own way. It’s the group’s responsibility to split the honoree’s tab among them. On the other hand, it’s not okay to invite a bunch of friends out to dinner to celebrate your own birthday, and then expect them to chip in for you. If you’re the one who suggested the dinner, it’s incumbent upon you to offer to pay for your own meal.”
May your next group meal go swimmingly or may you skip out on the drama and eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on your own. That might be the best bet for a better dinner experience. Even if it’s ice cream and not a proper meal, you’re in your pajamas and there’s no one in your living room but you. Stress avoidance. It’s bliss.