Another day, another online debate about splitting the bill.

Honestly, there needs to be an official etiquette book for this sort of stuff!

A woman has taken to the Moms on A Budget Facebook group to ask whether it’s normal to split the bill at a family member’s child’s restaurant birthday party. 

When she and her family were invited to attend, there was no mention of them paying their way so she assumed she didn’t need to and just left after the meal.

Only later did the host message her to ask her to pay for her family’s share of the bill. 

So, what’s the appropriate thing to do here?

Hundreds of parents weighed in with their thoughts. 


The mother said no one had mentioned them needing to pay for their dinner so they left.
The mother (not pictured) said no one had mentioned them needing to pay for their dinner so they left.
picture alliance via Getty Image

The anonymous mom shared, “We were invited to our nephew’s birthday lunch at a restaurant on the weekend. We had another party straight after and had to rush off too.

“We’ve just been told that we were expected to pay equally at the restaurant…”

She then asks the group whether or not they think this is normal. “I just thought it was family and a birthday so normally the host covers costs,” she adds.

“For reference when we have invited them and their four kids we have always paid for everything. I could understand if we just went out for lunch, everyone covers their own but for a birthday I thought the host would.

“There was no mention of us paying when we were invited and we wouldn’t have gone if we knew we had to pay.”

“We have never paid for others when hosting”

The mom concluded her post by asking, “Is paying for your own meal at a kid’s birthday really a thing?” 

Over 200 group members had something to say about the matter, with some asserting it’s completely normal, while others said that they’d expect the host to pay.


The host told the mother once she left the party that she had to pay her share of the bill.
The host told the mother once she left the party that she had to pay her share of the bill.
Getty Images

Others pointed out that either way, expectations should have been communicated prior to the event.

“We have never paid for others when hosting, they have always paid for themselves – unless it’s an activity then, yes I would cover all kids,” one mom said.

Another added, “Yes, it’s a thing. It would cost a lot if the parents of a child paid for the lot. We do birthday dinners so everyone can attend and it’s expected everyone pays for themselves/family. If they can’t afford it, then they don’t attend.”

“Pay for your own meals unless told otherwise. The host normally supplies cake though, haha,” pointed out a different user. 

Then some people said the host should pay for the kid’s meals but adults are on their own. 

“The paying equal thing doesn’t sit right with me, people order more than others”

Meanwhile, others took issue with the host asking to split the bill ‘equally’ as some people order more than others. 

“The paying equal thing doesn’t sit right with me unless it’s a set menu and the cost is the same for everyone,” one said.

A second person agreed: “Set menu – they pay, pick your own – you pay.”

And a third said: “Some people eat way more than others or drink more alcohol. I wouldn’t be paying for Uncle Ted’s new girlfriend to order lobster off a menu! So you should all split the bill but just pay for what you ordered.”

“I’d jump online and confirm the prices of what you ate and then transfer them that amount – that is what is fair,” someone else suggested.

“They should have stated that in the invite”

And many commenters agreed that communication is key here. 

“If I was in your position I would be really annoyed that it wasn’t mentioned beforehand but I would also accept that I need to pay what they expect.

“Just make sure you explain to your family that you won’t be attending next time if it’s not in the budget,” one mom mentioned. 

Then someone chimed in, writing, “When hosting, we always cover the costs of the event, whether at home or at an event space. So I definitely can see why you are confused. They should have stated that in the invite.”

“If  you are asking someone to come celebrate a birthday, you pay for it all”

And one camp of people agreed with the original poster. 

“I’m a bit old-fashioned and think if you are asking someone to come celebrate a birthday, you pay for it all. I wouldn’t have expected to pay,” one mom shared.

Another expressed: “I was raised to think that the host always covers the cost of any party. I hope you’re okay and not negatively impacted financially.”

Then one person simply called the host a “tight-arse.”

“You pay by giving the birthday person a gift”

Finally, some commenters made the point that giving a present was your form of ‘payment’. 

“When we go to birthdays we spend $50 min on presents, so it evens out,” one woman remarked.

Another stated: “You pay by giving the birthday person a gift, so if it’s an expensive meal situation or a lot of you attending the party, you might up the gift a little. It’s a win-win, invitees get fed and the birthday boy/girl gets spoilt.”