Lv 5
Nancy asked in Society & CultureEtiquette · 9 years ago

What is a polite way of saying we cannot pay for the meal ?

Both my kids are in late 20's and my son has been home on leave with Military. My husband and I wanted to take him to dinner and my Daughter & her live in boyfriend wanted to come. I didn't know the polite way to say they needed to pay for their own meal. When we ordered I asked the waitress to please put orders on separate checks, which she did not do. When the bill arrived my daughter & BF did not offer to pay for their own BUT my son did ! We wanted to treat him and he knew that. My husband has been temporarily laid off for the last month and we are careful about spending. My daughter knows this. Unsure of how I should have handled this.


**** Pierre ***** That is extremely funny !!!! Thank you !

9 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think it should have been arranged before you left for dinner to avoid awkwardness and confusion.

    HOWEVER - whenever we are invited for dinner out, we always take money in case the 'host' isn't paying. We never assume someone else is paying.

  • 9 years ago

    That food server really dropped the ball. Hard to say what you could have done or said differently, since it was a series of events vs just one unfortunate event.

    We can all figure out what would have corrected any situation after the fact, but not when there are so many variables. I suppose (only with the benefit of it being AFTER all of this) I suppose when you were still at home, and you and your husband were talking about taking your Son to dinner, the moment your daughter and her bf started to try to get in on it, was the opportunity to call it off right then and there. You could've said something about wanting to cook at home since everyone wants to spend some time together, and it's just easier and more comfortable to cook spaghetti at home and relax with the family.

    I only say that, knowing what we know now, the bf who's living with your daughter wasn't about to step up to the plate, and he's an opportunist. If you had had a crystal ball to show you this, then you could have sent your daughter and the guy to the store to pick up some extra ground beef and some dinner rolls.

    At that point, (once they're gone) you could have explained to your son that you and your husband are still planning on taking him out for a nice dinner, just the three of you, and you'll do it next week.

    If you didn't have that crystal ball to show you the future, and you were all sitting at the restaurant..I suppose leaving nothing to chance would have been good. Getting up and telling the manager, as well as the food server that you HAVE to have separate checks and being firm about this (in privacy of course). It could be that your son had had a word with the server at some point (without your knowledge) and he asked for the bill to be all on one check, because he was intending on paying for the dinner all along. He's been away and in a war..he's just happy to be with and spend time with the whole lot of you and I'm positive that it did his heart good to do this. Honestly. He's happy to have his Mum, his sister..even her bf..all together. Since he's been at home, that means he knows your husband is out of work, he knows the particulars of how his sister came along, and how the bf just insinuated himself into it all. He knows what's going on so he rose to the occasion, which is really sweet.

    You can still take him out for a nice meal later on and that will be that. I don't like the sound of your daughter's bf, though because he should have known better.

    Sounds awkward but what's done is done. I guess the only thing you could have done differently would be to have kept the dinner with your boy somewhat of a secret so you could enjoy his company alone, and also had enough to cover the bill without having to worry about a couple of extra mouths to feed.

    In the future, if you have instructions for the food server, it would be smart to let her manager know, as there are no foul ups.

    Whew! Well, today is the first day of a brand new year, so hopefully it'll be better for all of us.

    Happy New Year.


    Pierre R, you are funny.

  • 9 years ago

    Immediately you should have told the waitress ' I asked for separate checks' and insisted she re do them.Following basic rules of etiquette means that no one who is not invited should be there. That means your daughter and her live in boyfriend who were not invited should not have been there. I do not know why you are so worried about a polite way of saying it since your daughter is not concerned about being polite.. Call your daughter and ask her for the money. Then send the money back to your son saying that it was your honor to treat him to dinner . Im afraid your daughter is a freeloader opportunist, no?

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I would have simply excused myself when the bill came and said "I'm going to the bathroom", and out the door you go, with the car spitting gravel as you roar out of the parking lot.


  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 9 years ago

    She is your daughter she needs to respect you both as parents and pay for you. You have been buying stuff for her her whole life. She needs to realize that you can't afford paying the bill. Otherwise you won't include her in future family outings

  • 9 years ago

    Well, before you take some one/your children to some place

    always make sure you told them "pay your own expense" or "not my treat"

    so they will know what's coming and can ready some money

  • 9 years ago

    it should have been discussed with your daughter prior. if she is old enough to play house, she's old enough to pay her own way.

    God bless your son and thank him for standing up for my freedoms as a US citizen! I am so happy for you and your husband that he is home safely!!

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    You should have expressed that BEFORE you left the house. When your daughter and her live-in boyfriend invited themselves, you could have said - You are welcome to tag along but you'll have to pay your own tab.

  • 9 years ago

    either ask for separate tickets, yet again, or whip out the calculator and say, "dutch treat"

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.