Social Graces: What to do when you don’t want to split the bill evenly

Q: How do you say you don’t want to split the bill evenly and prefer to pay individually?

A: Splitting a bill evenly among all diners isn’t a rule required by etiquette. But to avoid disproportionate payouts and hurt feelings, talk openly with your family and friends as early as possible about paying the bill. Asking for separate checks is the most equitable way because people only pay for their share of the bill.

If you’d like separate, itemized checks, request them before anyone has ordered. Asking the server to split up the bill at the end of the meal is an inconsiderate move.

If you did not speak up prior to ordering, find a subtle way to ask your guests to split the bill when it arrives. For example, when the bill is placed on the table, ask your friends how they would like to pay for their meals.

—Jacquelyn Youst, etiquette expert and owner of Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol

A: Generally, I’d advise reading your audience ahead of time. But for me, if it’s a business associate or meeting, I’d make a point to pick up the bill to avoid any confusion over who ordered what.

Although certainly not always ideal, for me, this gesture outweighs the inherent awkwardness of the situation, helps to gracefully boost the existing relationship, and never goes unappreciated. Spending a few extra dollars is a small price to pay versus everyone being in an uncomfortable situation.

However, coming from a hospitality perspective, if your dining partner is adamant about paying individually, there’s nothing wrong, at the start of the meal, with alerting the staff member who is taking care of your party to keep a separate tab. Best to be upfront about these things and avoid the scenario of reviewing the itemized bill at the end. It can be a sticky situation for everyone involved.

—Donnie Madia, Chicago restaurateur and partner at One Off Hospitality

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three more cases of COVID-19 found in Red Deer

Across the province, two more deaths have been confirmed

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools to lay off support staff June 1

Educational assistants at Red Deer Public Schools will be laid off June… Continue reading

Airport primed for expansion

Ambitious vision sees airport as air freight and aircraft servicing centre

Red Deer Food Bank getting support from Dr. Deena Hinshaw T-shirt sales

The Red Deer Food Bank will receive a big donation, thanks to… Continue reading

WATCH: Firefighters, RCMP help Red Deer boy celebrate 3rd birthday

Firefighters and RCMP officers helped a Red Deer boy celebrate his third… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Police in Saskatchewan charge man with killing his parents and son

Police in Saskatchewan charge man with killing his parents and son

PM, Scheer among MPs to donate pay hike to charities during COVID-19 crisis

PM, Scheer among MPs to donate pay hike to charities during COVID-19 crisis

Feds likely didn’t have enough protective gear in emergency stockpile: Hajdu

Feds likely didn’t have enough protective gear in emergency stockpile: Hajdu

Supply-line disruptions could cause Canadian drug shortage

Supply-line disruptions could cause Canadian drug shortage

Duration of COVID-19 measures depends on obeying health authorities: PM

Duration of COVID-19 measures depends on obeying health authorities: PM

Parliament to sit again to approve more COVID-19 relief as spending climbs

Parliament to sit again to approve more COVID-19 relief as spending climbs

Most Read