The easiest way to split a restaurant bill when you are eating with a group is to split it evenly, so that everyone pays the same thing. If everyone agrees, then you’ll be in great shape, and the meal will end on a happy stress-free note.
Sometimes, though, at least one person will object. Some people like to figure out their shares exactly down to the penny. Some feel, reasonably, that it would be unfair to split the bill evenly if they ordered food that was significantly less expensive, or if other people ordered drinks and they didn’t. If you end up having to figure out everyone’s bill individually, the larger the group, the more difficult it will be.
If you anticipate that people will not want to split the bill evenly, then you can try, at the beginning of the meal, to request separate checks. Some restaurants will be glad to do that, while others won’t, especially if the group is large.
If you can’t get separate checks, and if everyone does not agree to split the tab evenly, then you’re just going to have to bring out the pencils, calculators, and cell-phone calculators and figure it all out.
Even if some people in your party insist on figuring out individual shares, you might still be able to save some trouble if you can convince them to let you (or whoever is in charge of figuring out the bill) round off and approximate the bills. Some people, though, will insist on figuring everything down to the penny.
The next hurdle is figuring out the tip. If some people in your group are generous tippers, and some are – let’s say, not so generous – that can cause a great deal of conflict, and even lasting anger and hurt feelings. It may be best if you can agree on a single percentage, and have everyone pay the same percent of their bills.
Because, with some groups, splitting the bill can cause so much stress, you might want to try to find ways to bypass the problem altogether. Perhaps you can go to a restaurant that serves prix fixe meals, where everybody is charged the same thing. Or you could try a buffet, where each person pays individually at a cash register. Otherwise, the best you yourself can do, if conflict breaks out in your group, is to be as flexible as possible. Someone has to try to keep the peace, and it might as well be you.