Several TikTok videos have sparked debate over birthday dinner etiquette, commenting on who should pay for the bill and if the decision to pay for the guest of honor is situational.

The TikTok discussions

One such TikTok user named Sean Lans posted a clip of him disagreeing with a friend’s birthday dinner choice.

In the video, Lans explained that his friend chose a restaurant where “the cheapest entrée was $41,” so he opted out from eating at the restaurant because “I am a little bit broke as it is, so I’m like, I’ll just skip the dinner, and then go out,” per People.

Despite opting out, Lars’ friend was mad at him for skipping out on the dinner yet joining the group afterward.

Lars defended himself in the video, “I’m not really looking to spend the equivalent of a week of grocery money on a single night out. I think I made a fair compromise, so I don’t know what to tell you.”


Restaurants in new york are so expensive in general it’s actually crazy #nyc #birthdaydinner #storytime #gay #expensive #broke #fyp

♬ original sound - Sean Lans

Another TikTok clip by dailyblastlive reacted to a video by viccgotti showing a heated argument over a $4,600 birthday dinner, which was going to be split evenly among the group — except for the “birthday girl.”

One of the commentators shared that they would only pay their portion of the bill as the birthday gift — nothing more, or if the decision was mutual and communicated among the attendants for a larger sum.

Regarding the original post, Business Insider spoke with viccgotti, who clarified that he contributed $24.58 for his meal; and because of the heated argument, he ended a friendship with one of the group members “whom he’d known since the third grade.”


A $4,600 Birthday Dinner Bill: Who Pays? — A TikTok of a dinner party arguing over how to split the bill has the internet divided. The person who posted the video said their friend’s birthday dinner came out to be a whopping $4,600. The birthday girl insisted she shouldn’t have to pay, and that her friends should all split the bill evenly. This did not sit well with everyone. So, what do you think is the right thing to do here? DBL’s Erica Cobb shares her thoughts. #birthday #birthdaydinner #tiktok #bill #billsharing #splitthecheck #check

♬ original sound - DBL

Should I pay for the birthday dinner?

According to The Daily Meal, the general and most ideal approach to handling the bill is for all guests — minus the guest of honor — to evenly split it. That way, it attaches similarly to people’s orders and, in addition, separates out the birthday person’s bill for taxes and tips.

However, as international etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore told U.S. News, “Etiquette is situational.” This can depend of how the birthday celebration is offered.

Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of The Etiquette School of New York, shared to Business Insider, “Generally when it’s the friends saying ‘Let’s all get together and celebrate Mary’s birthday,’ everyone except Mary pays for lunch.”

Napier-Fitzpatrick added, “But sometimes someone wants to have their own birthday luncheon, so let’s say Mary invites everyone to celebrate her birthday with her, in which case she would pay for everyone, but everyone should bring a gift for her.”

The importance of prior communication

It’s ultimately crucial that the decision to split the bill should be communicated beforehand. For example, if you want to invite others to your birthday dinner, it’s important to let people know that they may need to pay for their meals.

Etiquette coach Toni Dupree shared to Real Simple that the decision to split the bill should be done before the dinner commences — not when bills are served.

Karene Putney, CEO of Etiquette Etiquette, echoed the preparatory communication to Real Simple, “If, and only if, everyone agreed to split the bill before the meals are ordered, then it is OK to evenly divide that check when the bill arrives.”