Another "to pay or not to pay" thread - for adults.

So, I was reading and responding in the threads about whether the parents hosting kids on an outing are expected to pay all expenses or not. The general tone seems to be yes, but the parents whose kids are being hosted should at least offer to pay.

So, how does this work for adults? I’m curious because I went to a friend’s house the other day and all four of us (two couples) decided on take out. The husbands went out to get the food and us wives hung out with the kids. They got back, we ate and when I was telling my mom how we spent our weekend, she was horrified to find out that our friends didn’t pay - or offer to pay - for our food. It was just automatically assumed by both parties that we’d foot the bill for the two of us and our kid and they would do the same for theirs.

I get the general concept - that you wouldn’t charge a cover or expect your friends to pay you for the cost of ingredients when you invite them to a homemade dinner; however, I don’t generally expect my friends to pay for my food if I go to someone’s house and we order takeout. What about you?

I don’t know what would be “proper etiquette” or any of that other Emily Post crap, but a straight split sounds more than fair for group takeout like that and I’m rather surprised you didn’t even offer to split.

With all due respect to your mom, I think she’s wrong. While it might be polite to offer to pay, the assumption is that getting food is a joint decision, and so should be a joint payment.

About the only situation I can see where paying the whole thing is if it’s a regular thing with those friends, in which case you’d take turns.

I think I may be missing something here or perhaps I just wasn’t clear - we did split the cost, with my husband and I paying for us and the kid and the friends paying for themselves and their kid.

I also think my mom’s operating on etiquette that no longer applies. Just wanted to get the opinions of other dopers.

Now I see I read your OP backwards. I saw “their food” when you wrote “our food.” My apologies.

On third thought, that’s not exactly how I read it either. But I understand now, and yes, your mom is a tad out of touch.

It depends. I’d really like to know more about the get together first. For the record here’s my general thinking on inviting people to my house. If my invitation covers the period of time that encompasses “dinner time” then I assume I should be providing a meal. However I know some of these things are best done more informally like a potluck.

If the invitation is “come over to our house and we’ll get takeout” then they pay.

If the invitation is “come over to our house” and during the course of the day you stay through dinner as a spontaneous thing and you all decide the solution to getting fed is takeout, you go dutch.

In your mother’s world, it should have been very rude of you to stay through dinner if the initial invitation did not specifically include dinner. At about 4:30 you say “we have to get home for dinner.” Only if you are pressed to stay - and really pressed - would you stay, and they would pay. If I were your mom, I’d be more shocked that you put your host in that position than that you split the check. Of course, having put your hosts in the position of needing to feed you with inadequate food in the house, you’d split the check.

No worries - I just thought I was having a senior moment of my own.

In the case of take-out, we usually bought the booze, or we’d all pitch and buy from the common pool.

If I were at a friend’s house and we got takeout, I’d expect to pay my share. If we were at *my * house and we got takeout, I’d usually expect to pay for all of it, but gratefully accept any offer to share the cost.

I find that it makes my life much, much easier and less stressful when I just assume that I will pay my share or more of it. That way I’m only ever pleasantly surprised.

Yikes! From the responses I must have been REALLY unclear! We were specifically invited to dinner - not just the schlubs that hang around while our hosts stare at us and edge quietly toward the door in hopes they can boot us out.

The situation was this:

Our friends called us up and said, “Hey, want to come to dinner? Bring the rugrat and he can watch a movie with G. We thought we’d make lasagna. Ok with you guys?”

We said, “That sounds great! What time do you want us and what can we bring?”

They said, “Stop by about 5:30 - we’d like to have an early night, but we haven’t seen you in forever and we’d like to chat. Don’t worry about bringing anything unless you’d like some booze.” (The wife is pregnant with #2 and husband doesn’t drink, so we brought some sparkling grape juice because she likes to drink and is kind of bummed that she can’t. I know, cruddy replacement, but I don’t like to show up empty-handed.)

We got there and they said, “We didn’t feel like cooking. Let’s get some Outback. We really want an onion.”

So we got Outback (onion and all). And that was that.

Yes. Yes you were.

They should have offered to pay.

Your Mom was right. They invited you for dinner then changed once you got there, while I have no doubt that their intentions were honorable, it was still there faux pas.

Your elaboration totally changed my initial opinion. They invited you for dinner and should have paid for the take out when their plan fell through. It’s a good thing they didn’t ask you to bring something.

This does change everything (context is awesome!). Your friends definitely should have paid for your food.

Your mom is still a little out of touch though.

Also, this was your friend.

You have likely worked out the who/what/when/where/why’s of the friendship and intuitively know when it’s your turn to host/offer/expect, etc.

The other thread was about a ‘new’ friend situation, so it’s a bit more formal.

If I invite you over for dinner, that means I’m providing the food, whether I’m cooking it myself or we’re ordering in.

It sounds like you’re comfortable with the situation as it went down, so that’s cool. I would have been a bit taken aback if I thought someone was making dinner for me, then after I got there found out I was supposed to purchase my own food, but it wouldn’t be a huge deal. I would be pretty unlikely to have much cash on me, though.

Yeah, I didn’t mind paying - although I usually pay when people drop by my house and we get takeout, it didn’t really occur to me to get bent out of shape when my friend asked for our half. After all, they have a kid with #2 on the way - she’s a stay at home mom and he has a decent job, but hardly one with a huge salary. Both my husband and I work full time, have decent salaries and were looking forward to hanging out with these guys - it was definitely worth the price of the food.

What did surprise me was my mom’s abject horror at the fact that we paid. That, combined with the other threads about whether parents should pay for outings on their kids’ behalf or provide some pocket money made me wonder what other Dopers’ experiences were. I wish I could recall how the subject of payment even came up with my mom. (I also wish I had written the OP more clearly, but too late for that now, isn’t it?)

Agreed. You were invited for a meal so they should have provided one. You weren’t invited to go swimming and decided to grab chinese at the last minute so you didn’t have to go home and cook.

Yes, they should pay, except there is another rule in play here. When two men go to buy food (or sometimes drink) the most Manly man pays. This can often lead to problems so, rather than debating the point endlessly or even dropping trousers, we will usually just split the bill.