Dear Urban Diplomat: should my guests offer to split the bill when we eat takeout together?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I invited another couple over for dinner, and we agreed to order in from Amaya, with each of us selecting a dish to share. The food arrived and I paid the $90 bill for expediency’s sake, assuming our friends would reimburse me for half. However, they left at the end of the night without offering to pay. Yes, we hosted, but it’s different rules for a mutually selected, delivered meal, right?
—Naan Profit, The Annex
When you jumped up to pay the bill, your guests might have assumed traditional etiquette—where the host provides the food—applied. In this case, the meal planning was a group effort, so I think your friends should have at least offered to throw their credit card into the fray—at which point you could have waved it off and seized the opportunity to be the consummate host. But if you’re a firm believer in going Dutch, next time talk things over before money changes hands—or make sure the feast is at their house, and leave your wallet at home.
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6 thoughts on “Dear Urban Diplomat: should my guests offer to split the bill when we eat takeout together?”
Key phrase in your question is: “My wife and I invited another couple over for dinner…” which in my book means you are the host and ergo, you pay.
If you and your wife had cooked the dinner (instead of ordering in), would you have given them a bill at the end of the evening? Of course not!
So there’s your answer.
no kidding. i don’t understand how the response basically includes the assumption that the guests would offer to contribute.
Basic formula/etiquette is – you invite someone over, they bring something (wine, dessert, flowers) and you cover everything else.
The miser illusionist’s misdirection was ensuring that their guests witnessed the exchange of money to pay for the dinner (watch my hands, abracadabra, tah dah, Dinner!) but the key point is the first: “My wife and I invited another couple over for dinner…”
It’s not even clear that the other couple knew they would be presented with a takeout menu when they arrived for dinner. Although social niceties may suggest going through that routine of offering to split the bill, you should only do that if you are prepared for your offer to be accepted. Splitting the bill may have not been financially possible for the guests.
Welcome to Earth.
I’m sure the unwritten rules say that if you invite someone, you should expect to shoulder the cost, but as a guest (and it’s takeout) I would always offer to pay (and with cash!)
At the same time, if they had invited their friends *out* for dinner, some “no no, let me” haggling would be completely expected. Take-out exists somewhere between cooking at home and eating out, and I don’t think anyone’s figured out the etiquette yet. In the case of the guests, it’s never a faux-pas to at least offer to chip in.
But hopefully they at least brought the wine.
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