So, here's the scenario - I work in a small office of five people (including myself), but I work as part of a separate organization from the other four - I'm part of a national team and I'm the only person in my region, so even though I'm physically co-located with the other four people, I'm not officially part of their team. I do, however, work closely with them and there are projects where we partner.
In a few weeks the office is having an annual holiday lunch, and I've been told by the manager that he does this every year as a thank-you to his staff - they all go to a nice restaurant, and he picks up the tab. The manager has invited me to join the group, but has let me know that he isn't comfortable paying for my meal, as it's something special for his team. I'm totally fine with paying my own way, but I'm not sure what would be the most effective way to approach the meal. I see four options:
1) Talk with the manager in advance, and pay him for the rough cost of my meal and let him pay for the whole meal at once.
2) Get a separate check from the restaurant, and pay for it separately there.
3) Ask the manager to pay for my meal along with everybody else, and then reimburse him afterwards.
4) Approach the manager and ask him for his preference.
I want to maintain positive relations with everybody on the team, so what is the most effective course of action?