Lauren Conrad's etiquette laws for dining out with a group

For today’s Ladylike Laws post, I am tackling an extremely common situation that many of us find ourselves in on a weekly basis: dining out with a group. Most of us know the etiquette ins and outs when it comes to restaurant dining with just one or two friends, but when that group doubles or triples in size, things can get complicated. Here are some rules to keep in mind the next time you’re part of a large party…

When You’re Running Late…

Being on time is always preferred of course, but when you have several other people waiting on you it becomes even more imperative. For one thing, you presumably have a reservation whenever there is a large party involved. So not only are you keeping your friends waiting if you are running late, but you are complicating things for the restaurant management and wait staff. Keep in mind that certain restaurants won’t seat you until your whole party has arrived or will only hold a reservation for 15 minutes. If you do end up running late and it’s out of your control, text someone in the group to let them know what you’d like to order or that they are free to order without you so that you are not holding everyone else up.

When Food Comes Out at Different Times…

When there are several people at your table, there is a good chance that the food may not come out all at once. If your food arrives before others in your party are served, you may be wondering whether you can start eating or if that would be impolite. If no one says anything when your food comes out (particularly if it is a salad or cold dish that will still taste just as good after sitting out for a couple of minutes), it’s best to wait until everyone’s plate is in front of them. But if others in your party encourage you to start eating before your food gets cold, it is all right to listen to them, especially if you all indulged in shared appetizers to begin with and no one is starving.

When You are Splitting Dishes…

If the food is meant to be shared or served family style, be sure not to take more than your fair share the first go around. Once everyone gets some, you can go back for seconds if there is anything left on the plate. If the dish is something you really loved, you can always see if everyone is up to order another one. If you have special dietary requirements that prevent you from eating several of the shared dishes, it is OK to order a plate of your own, even if everyone else is sharing everything.

When There is a Lull in the Conversation…

When you’re on a date or dining one-on-one with a friend, you probably wouldn’t pull out your cell phone and start scrolling through social media, knowing that it can be rude to the person you’re sitting across from. But somehow when you’re out with a large group, people tend to forget this basic tenet of etiquette. Just because there are other people there to talk to, doesn’t mean you should ignore those sitting around you and stare at a screen instead. Unless you have small children at home or need to keep your phone close in case of emergency, your phone really belongs in your bag the whole time, not on the table.

When It’s Time to Pay…

Knowing how to gracefully split the bill can be the trickiest part of dining out with a large group. Splitting everything evenly is certainly the easiest solution. But if you are someone who always orders less food or doesn’t drink when all your friends are three cocktails deep, this can be frustrating—especially if you were purposely ordering a modest amount in order to stick within a set budget. If splitting the bill always leaves you with the short end of the stick, plan on bringing cash along with you so that the server can still divide all the credit cards evenly. But if everyone ordered a relatively even amount of food or if it was a shared plates menu, plan on just splitting the bill—definitely don’t complicate things over a couple of dollars. Keep in mind that the polite thing is to make it as easy as possible on the wait staff, as well as your friends.

Do you agree with all of these tips? Would you have anything else to add?

I hope you found this post helpful!

XO Lauren

Photo: Stephanie Todaro Photography for LaurenConrad.com
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