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Ask Miss Maggie: Who Picks up the Tab?

March 18, 2011

I came across an article the other day that reminded me of an etiquette question that I get asked all the time.

Question:  “When you invite someone out to lunch, are you supposed to pick up the tab?” (The answer to this question might surprise you!)

Margaret Page Etiquette Expert

Answer: If you invite someone to lunch or dinner, you should always expect to pay.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a business lunch or dinner with an old friend the same etiquette rules apply. You invite. You pay.

You wouldn’t invite a friend to your home for supper and expect her to bring their share of food with them, would you? Bringing a bottle of wine to dinner is nice gesture (and much appreciated by every hostess I’ve ever met), but even when you’re entertaining at home, you should expect to foot the costs for the entire evening. Be prepared! Don’t assume your guests will show up with your favorite bottle of Cabernet or a plate full of gourmet brownies.

Now that I’ve shared the “you invite, you pay” rule of good manners, I’ll share an exception. If you and your girlfriends regularly “do lunch,” with an understanding of how the bill is split, you are not expected to foot the bill EVEN if you chose where to meet for lunch.

Now, I’m dying to know. Do you agree with the answer? Do you pick up the tab when you’ve invited your neighbor to lunch? Love to hear your thoughts. Share in the comments below!

Do you have an etiquette question for Miss Maggie? Feel free to post your question below and we’ll share the answer in a future post!

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Posted by Margaret in Ask Miss Maggie and tagged , ,