Is it okay to invite someone for lunch or dinner and ask that they buy their own drinks?

I don’t like eating alone. And don’t have a lot of cash. But, I have some friends that can rack up a booze tab. I would like to think that they would be gentle on the booze tab, if I were buying. But then again, I don’t want to rain on their parade. How is the best way of handling this?

Your friends are being jerks. Tell them to stop being jerks, and if they won’t stop then don’t invite them out to lunch anymore.

Not if you’re inviting them over to your house.

No, this is totally hypothetical. I want to avoid a possible huge booze tab.

If they are friends, why don’t you just “meet for lunch.” I think that’s a universal signal that everyone is buying for themselves. If they only order food and a soda, be a nice guy and pick up the tab. If they order four scotch and sodas, be a stand up guy and get them a cab.

Why are you taking friends out to lunch if you are short on cash?

I live alone and eat lunch out everyday. As I mentioned, I don’t like eating alone.

The phrase you are looking for is “Hey, do you want to get together sometime for lunch?”

Unless its a date or a business affair, most people assume that meeting someone for lunch means you pay your own way. If you do it regularly maybe you’ll trade off paying:

“Let me get this … .”

“Okay, but I’m paying next time.”

However, there’s no polite way to say “I’ll pay, but you have to buy your own drinks.” Either you’re the host or you’re not.

Since you’re looking for opinions, moved to IMHO (from MPSIMS).

Go to a place that doesn’t serve alcohol. Problem solved.

I think if you’re good friends, and better if there’s a running joke about drinking, you can say, Hey, I’ll take you to lunch. Be great if we each cover our own drinks, though–wouldn’t want to hold you back but then I just have a few hundred dollars in the budget for this.

Actually say one thing from that, or another, whatever is comfortable, but that’s the gist of the tone I’m recommending.

Not sure how a, “Wanna meet for lunch?” invitation to a friend obligates you to pay for any part of your friends’ lunch. Particularly when there is more than one coming out to meet you.

I meet friends fairly regularly, and “let’s get together for lunch” or “let’s meet up for lunch” always means that we’re going dutch, unless one of us follows it with “my treat”, or “I’ll pick it up”, etc…

That said, I do have a few very close male friends who I alternate picking up the tab with, but that’s something that’s developed over 25 years, not something formal that we really set ground rules for.

Invite them to a BYOB joint. If you’re feeling generous, bring a bottle or 6-pack of something, but warn them upfront that it’s BYOB.

That sounds like something that YOU need to work on.

If you request that people join you for lunch, unless they are good friends and know your financial state or you phrase it correctly, then the assumption is that you’ll be picking up the tab. If that’s been a problem for you, then you should probably discontinue inviting friends to lunch and simply bring a lunch or learn to eat alone.

Or find friends who aren’t alcoholics or problem drinkers who feel the need to drink at lunch (assuming that this isn’t limited to weekends.)

OP, a lot of what everyone else has said, plus you really should learn to cook. It’ll do wonders for your bank account, for one thing. You also need better friends if, “let’s meet for lunch” = let’s crush the bar and stick OP with the tab. I wouldn’t guess that meeting coworkers for lunch meant you were picking up the tab, unless you were their supervisor and it was work related.

I mean, I can exploit a wine list with the best of them, but I’d never expect anyone else to subsidize my vice. Rather the opposite: I’ve ordered weird stuff that I really wanted to try, and asked if the table wanted any. Naturally, I picked up that portion of the bill.

Don’t invite them to lunch, invite them to join you for lunch and it’s dutch. With my friends and coworkers it’s always dutch so it doesn’t need to be specified, unless someone says “my treat, to celebrate XXXXX”.

Unless someone says specifically, “let me buy you lunch,” or “let me take you out to lunch,” it’s a dutch tab. I would never expect someone to pick up my lunch tab unless they specifically say so upon the invite.

I would also rarely drink more than a couple during lunch. Sounds like you have a bunch of lushes for friends. Take a good book and make a serious go at dining at the counter. I find the waitstaff attentive and sometimes good conversation if it’s not too busy at the counter.

Also, if you’re watching your pocketbook, I find restaurants that serve alcohol to generally be more expensive to eat at, anyway. There are lots of places that serve decent food without bar service.

Oh, for god’s sake, are these your friends or aren’t they? Between friends it’s perfectly acceptable to say you will buy their lunch but not their drinks if that’s how you roll. Friends are supposed to understand these things.

I actually have the opposite problem with one of my friends. I have to do these things like, “Hey, I have a gift card for pedicures, want to go with me?” Never mind that I bought the gift card myself because otherwise she wouldn’t go because she doesn’t want to be a financial drain and she only has the money for the really cheap pedicure place and I don’t like that place.

On edit, this is kind of the same thing. If you will embarrass your friends by telling them they drink too much, take them out to lunch some place that doesn’t serve booze, problem solved.