So I am an avid twitter user, logging in numerous times a day.  One of the draws for me is the constant conversations about current events, politics, reality tv and a host of other things.  Twitter is often times a focus group of sorts if you want to get a variety of opinions.  I have seen people debate whether a $200 date is acceptable or the best way to approach a woman you are interested in.  Trust me, these debates are reoccurring and hilarious.  A recent debate got me thinking and I decided that this topic deserves a blog post.  So here it goes folks, how do you decide to split the check or not?

Here is the scenario that was presented.  You are out for dinner with a large group of friends, lets say six folks.  You all order various dishes from appetizers to desserts.  Then of course you guys order several rounds of cocktails.  Now the bill arrives and the waiter did not split it.  How are y’all handling it? Do you split it evenly six ways? Ask for separate checks? Or does the big baller in the group pay for everyone? While some people expressed clear rules, I think every situation calls for different responses so here are my thoughts!

Eating with a crew of lovely ladies for my birthday one year! (I'm pretty sure we had separate checks LOL)

Eating with a crew of lovely ladies for my birthday one year! (I’m pretty sure we had separate checks LOL)

There are some that are firmly in the camp of, always split the check evenly amongst the crew because it’s simple and easy on the waitstaff.  Those opposed to this often say that there is always that ONE friend who orders ten drinks, two entrees and an appetizer that they do not intend to share, yet they would like to split the check evenly.  If you do not think this happens, I advise you to double check to make sure that YOU are not that friend.  Secondly, if this constantly happens to you, I advise YOU to find better friends because goodness.

Some note that this process works because even if you get the short end of the stick this time, on the next outing it will play itself out.  I cannot agree with this simply because for most folks their dining out habits are always the same.  For me, when I go out with my foodie group I am always going to get my ONE cocktail that I will happily sip on all night.  While they may try several. Another one of our friends has a knack for finding the most expensive dish on the menu to fulfill her pescatarian diet.  We also may order tons of appetizers with meat in them that she cannot eat.  It has been this way for years!  This is not changing, so if we constantly split evenly then someone is going to be losing more often than not.

Other things that complicate this is waitstaff and restaurants.  I know I eat out more than the average so I have seen a variety approaches.  Some places flat out refuse to split checks, but will take more than one form of payment.  So then you have to do the adding and remind folks about tax and tip!   To me, it seemed that this should be easily done in any modern POS system, so I have asked waiters why this is the approach.  Some say splitting checks in their system made it easy for waiters “to steal” and drop off items as they split the checks so they banned it.  Others say it is time consuming.  Restaurants also complicate things by saying they will only take 1-2 credit cards for a table of like 10.  This certainly irks me.

I say all of this to say, there are some situations that call for keeping it simple and splitting the check evenly, while there are other times that it is best to ask your server to do the work for you and split it!

Here are a few tips:

  • If your group eats family style, meaning you order everything and it is generally a free for all, this is a great time to split the bill evenly.  If you don’t, deciding who takes what appetizer or dessert is a game of advance math that no one wants to play at the end of dinner.  Your waitstaff will also hate you for this.
    • In these instances, make sure everyone is on board when you start ordering stuff though! Like that expensive lobster dish needs a verbal yes from all at the table.
  • I also have to side with the team “split the check evenly” when it comes to nominal amounts.  This probably happens more often than not as most restaurants menu prices are fairly similar. If the difference between your bill would be like five dollars, do not be that person who yells for separate checks! That’s silly and your crew will stop inviting you.
  • If you do eat family style and for whatever reason you guys need to do separate checks.  Everyone just take an item and move it along. No need to do complicated math here.
  • Asking for separate checks up front is always a good rule of thumb and makes this easier.
  • Also if you are in the “split checks evenly” camp, be mindful of the friend that is on a budget for whatever reason.  This person usually carefully orders and probably will not partake in the shared appetizers so they are not on the hook at the end. Do NOT be that jerk friend that says this person should split the bill evenly.  Also it’s rude to say this person should have stayed home.  They came out and ordered what they could afford and everyone should be respectful of that.
  • In the instances where your rich friend just pays for everyone, I suggest offering to contribute to the tip.  Also, while it’s great to have a friend like this, do not become a leach and expect this from them all the time.  They will certainly resent you.  If they are always aghast at anyone paying for them, find other ways to show your appreciation for them as a friend, outside of their wallet!
  • For birthday dinners etc, if you are the host make sure it is clear whether you are paying or not! Then let people know ahead of time if there are limits on splitting checks so they can plan accordingly.
  • Large group dinners are a good time to grab some cash just in case.  Or make sure you have Venmo or the Cash app downloaded on your phone.
  •  On a final note, these rules do not apply to ordering drinks at a bar.  Round for round is the easiest most efficient way  to share in these instances.

So how do you split the check with a group of friends? What rules have you found helpful in these instances? Sound off in the comments :)