Dining out with bigger parties is a growing trend in the restaurant scene. While in an upscale setting, it's important to be courteous and conscious. Don't be intimidated. Even if it's a special occasion for you, restaurants do this all the time, but there are some things you should know. The folks at the Davenport Hotel's Palm Court Grill provided us with some general guidelines on how to eat with a group.

Make a reservation

You can never be "too early" when it comes to notifying the restaurant. Generally, it's best to make a reservation at least 24 to 48 hours in advance so the staff can fully prepare. Additional staffing could be necessary, floor plans might need to be rearranged to accommodate the bigger table and chefs may want to prep items ahead of time. Not only is life made easier for the staff, but you'll also be more likely to ensure the best service.

Don't stress the math

Dividing the costs of a meal (and the booze) doesn't have to be awkward. At the beginning of the meal, simply let your server know if you'd like to split the check evenly or receive separate checks. Often, the server will ask you first. To make things even smoother, you can let the host or hostess know how you'd like the bill split when you make the reservation and they'll pass the information on.

Tipping is key

The size of your party shouldn't affect the way you tip. Instead, it should be based on the quality of your service. Common gratuity is 18 to 20 percent, to be left on the full portion of the bill, excluding discounts and complimentary items. If your server exceeds these expectations or makes the meal especially memorable, it's a nice gesture to leave a little extra.♦

Deck The Falls Festival @ Cutter Theatre

Fri., Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m., Sat., Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 4, 2-3 p.m.
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