DEAR HARRIETTE: My family went out to dinner with friends of ours who were in town visiting. There were five of them and three of us, and the restaurant was kind of expensive. When it came time to pay the bill, it was a little awkward. Normally we would just split the bill, but the number of people in each party was so different. When I thought about it, though, I was OK with splitting it because we had drinks and the others drank water. (Alcoholic beverages always hike up the bill.)
Our visitors ended up doing a partial split, where they paid a lot more than us. I guess it worked out, but I don’t know if I handled it as well as I should have. What is the best way to handle a situation like that? -- Splitting the Bill
DEAR SPLITTING THE BILL: Whenever there is a group and people need to split the check, there can be an awkward moment.
The easiest thing to do is to take a quick glance at the check to get a sense of what you owe. If your portion is significantly smaller than the others’, you can offer to pay for your group plus a hearty tip and give the rest to the other people who are paying. You could also simply split it evenly (if you can afford to do so) -- but that is not necessary. People go into situations like that knowing who they want to pay for. If you are upfront about what you plan to do and quickly and proactively make it known what your intentions are for settling the check, chances are, the others will follow suit.