Dining Etiquette: Splitting the Bill

Photo Credit: The Economic Times

Photo Credit: The Economic Times

After a wonderful meal with great company, there is no worse way to finish the dining out experience than having confusion over the bill. No matter the circumstance, a business meal, a group of friends, or a celebration in honor of someone, this type of confusion can always make attendees feel uncomfortable (click to watch). In order to avoid any awkward moments, here are my tips for splitting the bill:

  1. Splitting the Bill Can be a Touchy Subject – The following are important to keep in mind as you plan group meals.
    • People do not want to “get stuck” paying for the expensive meals, additional appetizers, or alcoholic beverages of others when they do not consume the same. Not everyone can afford the same thing.
      • Food for Thought: When the bill is split evenly between people who did not actually order things costing the same amount, those who are charged more often deduct from the tip. This is not fair to the servers.
    • If going out as couples, it is often easiest to split the total as an even amount per couple; however, keep the first bullet point in mind!
    • Bringing cash (and a variety of bill amounts) when you know you will be splitting the bill is a good idea. You do not want to owe anyone money after the fact or be responsible for holding up paying.
    • For those who are comfortable with digital payment methods, consider using the apps like Venmo and PayPal.
  2. If You Plan to Split the Bill – Always make the plan known ahead of time!
    • If you are the organizer for a group get together, but you are not the host, you should let attendees know ahead of time the bill will be split. After receiving the R.s.v.p. list, send a confirmation note to all attendees including “reminders” and stating the plan for the bill.
      • For example: “A request to split the total for brunch as individual bills has been made of the restaurant. Brunch will be divided by what you order, not split evenly among everyone, in order to be fair to all. Thank you for understanding!”
    • If you make a reservation for a larger number of people, call the restaurant and ask if separate checks for a large group is possible. Also, ask if gratuity is added for a group of your size. Some establishments are unable to do separate checks; therefore, it is important to let your attendees know in advance if paying in cash will be necessary.
      • For example: “Please bring cash for dinner. We have been told splitting the check between so many credit cards is not possible; therefore, having cash will make it much easier for us to divide the cost ourselves.”
    • Always tell your server you wish to split the bill when he/she first greets you. This way, when you order, your server can enter your drinks and meals as separate checks.
      • It is very frustrating for servers to receive a joint bill back that says, “Put $25.51 on the red card, $34.22 on the blue card, etc..”
  3. Ultimately, Who is Responsible for the Bill?
    • Typically, if your boss/manager is present and extended the invite then it is his/her responsibility to cover the bill.
    • Similarly, with client lunches/dinners or interviews that take place over a meal, the hosting business is responsible for the bill.
    • If you are hosting a meal out for friends, family, etc., the cost of the meal and gratuity is your responsibility. Think of it as hosting at your home – You do not ask guests to pay for their meal in your home when you host; therefore, you should not expect them to pay when you extend the invitation to join you out for a meal.
    • If you are out to celebrate a special occasion for someone (birthday, promotion, etc.), it is customary that his/her bill is covered by the other people at the table. As a guest, be prepared to split the honoree’s tab – bringing cash helps!
    • If you are asked to evenly split a bill for a group whose meals are clearly not equal in cost, speak up in a polite manner. Simply saying, “Excuse me, everyone did not order equal amounts and I think it would be unfair to expect each other to make up for our portions. May we split the bill based on our meals?”

No matter your age or the setting, splitting the bill can always be a difficult situation to navigate. I hope these tips help you find a solution easily and relieve you of some dining out anxiety in the future!

Happy dining!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Travel Tips: Airport Etiquette

Lately, I have found myself spending a lot of time in airports/on planes. These opportunities for travel have not only been fun, but also taught me an awful lot about travel etiquette. With all I have learned, I decided to write a follow-up to “The Do’s and Don’ts of Airplane Travel” to give you a few more travel tips!

Photo Credit: NT News

Photo Credit: NT News

  1. Be prepared for the security line. We know it is coming… The moment you have to go through the metal detector/scanner, so why not be ready for it? Often times, the security lines can be long leaving us to stand there with nothing to do. Rather than using our phones and strolling along until we reach the scanner, let’s use this time to start preparing for the security check.
    • Throw away your water bottle/beverage of choice.
    • Remove your coat, sweater, scarf, etc. and hold it while you walk.
    • Take off your heavy jewelry/watch and your belt.
      • Personally, I leave a small jewelry bag in my purse or carry-on when I travel so when I get to security I can put all my things in that little bag and secure it in my own carry-on instead of using the small tray/dish security provides. Also, this allows me to go straight from security to my gate without having to stop to put everything back on, I can do it at my gate instead. Travel Tip: A small plastic bag works just as well 😉
    • Have your ID and boarding pass out so you can hand it to the TSA Agent right away.
    • If you are traveling with a laptop, put it in an easily accessible place so you can take it out quickly for the security scan.
    • When you get to the scanner, do not rush the people in front of you. Be patient and wait to place your things on the scanner belt.
    • Once you have cleared the scanner, pick up your things and step aside. In most airports, they have benches very close to security so you can put all your belongings away and accessories back on you.
  2. Do Not Hog the Plug! You know which one I mean… The incredibly coveted electrical plug to charge your phone, iPad/tablet, laptop, etc.
    • First and foremost, be sure to charge your electronics before leaving home. This will prevent you from having to search the terminal for an electrical outlet or charging station.
    • If you really need to charge your phone/electronics before your flight, use any free plug you can find or wait patiently for one to become available. If you have to wait, stand near the charging station and wait your turn. Do not stare down all the people currently using the charging station hoping someone will give up.
    • When using the plug/charging station, do not use the electronic device you are charging unless it is an emergency or absolutely necessary. If other people are waiting, using your device while it charges only makes the process take longer. Be considerate of the others in line.
    • Use one plug and one plug only! Do not plug-in your personal phone, work phone, iPad/tablet, and laptop all at the same time. It is inconsiderate to those who are waiting. NOTE: If you have a plug that turns into an extension and has 4 plug-ins then this is OK.
    • If you have a plug that works as an extender and you are not using all of the extra outlets, offer it to other people!
      • Sparkle of the Week: While in the airport last week, a very nice woman had been waiting to use a plug. When it came to her turn, she had an extender and graciously offered the extra outlets to those around her. Kudos to this woman for being a friendly traveler and a genuinely kind person!!
    • If people are waiting, you do not need to charge your phone to 100%. Get your battery to a decent level then let the next person use the plug.
  3. Open seating. It is totally up to you!
    • If you are traveling with other people who have a boarding number after your own, it is OK to try to save seats. Simply place a coat, purse, or small bag in the seat you hope to save.
      • If someone asks for the seat, kindly say, “I was hoping to save this for my friend/spouse/parent, do you mind looking for another seat?” Normally, people will be understanding especially if there are still plenty of seats left.
      • If the airplane is filling up and the flight attendant has started making announcements to “take any seat you see,” it is time to give up your seat saving mission. You do not want to be the person who delayed your flight because you forced others to play musical chairs until your friend/spouse/parent got on the plane.
    • If you see someone traveling with an individual who needs assistance (a parent and younger child or someone with an elderly person), but they cannot find a seat together and you have an open seat next to you… Offer your seat to them.
  4. Check before you recline! Before you recline your chair, make sure the person behind you is not getting something from under your seat or using the tray table. If they are, simply say, “Excuse me, I’m going to recline my chair, I just want to let you know.”

What travel etiquette do’s and don’ts have you witnessed? Are there travel situations you do not know how to navigate?

With these new tips, I hope you will be an even more polite and considerate traveler!

Happy Travels!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra