The Ultimate Guide To Splitting The Check And Group Dining Out

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How should we split the bill?

Generally if you know you’re going to dine with a large group (more than 4 people) it’s a good idea to take a trip to the ATM prior to arriving. Certain restaurants allow parties to split the bill amongst multiple credit cards, but many do not. When it comes time to pay the check and one person puts down their card first, offer to pay your share in cash. It will make everyone’s lives easier, including your server!

*If the restaurant does allow separate checks, remember to let your server know before you order that you’re opting to split*

How Much Should I Order?

When splitting the bill evenly it is courteous to eat and drink in moderation. We’re not suggesting you not eat a full meal, but if you know your friend or colleague isn’t much of a drinker, for example, don’t order three $15 cocktails. As a general rule of thumb, try to order about the same number of courses and cocktails as everyone else at the table.

Where do i sit?

This one depends on the occasion of the dinner. If you’re celebrating a birthday, work anniversary or anything involving a person of honor, that person should be seated toward the center of the dining table. This way more people in the party can chat with him or her. In this case, and if possible, create place cards for the table to make things simpler. If that’s not possible, the person who coordinated the dinner should be first in the door to pull the chair out for the person who is being celebrated.

Dining just because? Not a problem. If the group is very familiar with one another, feel free to sit wherever you’d like. If the group contains couples, it’s courteous to leave two consecutive chairs open so that the couple can sit with one another. We’ve all been in a situation where the boyfriend or girlfriend of a friend is not well known amongst all people in the friend group. He or she would most likely be comfortable next to the other half of their couple!

Rules on electronics?

There’s nothing polite about scrolling through Instagram while at the dinner table. We’ll make an exception for the one photo you HAVE to take when your food arrives, but otherwise keep phones off the table and out of sight. Of course, there are other exceptions to this rule such as new or expecting mothers, work calls etc… Kindly let your party know you may be expecting a call and put your phone on vibrate in your purse or pocket. If received, excuse yourself and walk away to answer.

What if the food arrives at different times?

You may have heard the “go ahead if it’s hot, wait if it’s cold” rule. In our opinion, it’s always most polite to take your first bite only when every person at the table has gotten his or her food. There will be plenty to talk about with such a large group, so waiting the extra few minutes shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

What time is best for reservations?

The earlier, the better. We’re not suggesting dinner at 4pm, but a 5:30 or 6:00pm reservation ensures a better table and more attentive servers. After all, larger parties require more attention! This tip goes double if the restaurant does not take reservations (if you dare). 

What’s the deal on sharing?

This sounds obvious, but always pre-discuss sharing. No one likes an unwelcome plate-picker! If everyone at the table is down to try a little bit of everything, order a variety of dishes—family style if possible, if not, let your server know you’re planning to share. This way he or she can provide you with serving utensils and extra plates.

Appetizer advice:

If you’re not planning on sharing entrees, many groups choose to order appetizers for the entire table. Be sure to ask your server how many items come with each appetizer. You don’t want to order a dish with fewer items than diners.

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