Tips from Real Life 101

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Tipping Etiquette 101

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One of my favorite restaurants suggests in bold letters at the bottom of their menu “18% gratuity is appropriate and recommended.” With restaurants suggesting how much to tip before you even place an order, appropriate tipping etiquette may be confusing. When do you leave a generous tip? Is it ever acceptable to leave no tip at all? We’ve created a little cheat sheet of the modern guidelines when it comes to gratuities and tipping etiquette.
Restaurant Dining: Tipping used to show an individual’s appreciation for exceptional service. Restaurants now factor in tips as a way to lower wages, and therefore it is customary to leave:

  • 15% gratuity for average service.
  • 20% is recommended for exceptional service. 
  • 10% gratuity is appropriate for less-than-mediocre service. 

It is never appropriate to leave a nickel or dime out of spite, and the manager should be confronted privately if the service does not deserve even 10% gratuity.
Tip Jars: Many small establishments, such as coffee bars and ice cream shops, have a tip jar next to the register. Because these tips are shared between all employees, it is not necessary or expected to leave a tip.

  • Frequent patrons should drop in a few bucks from time to time. 
  •  This guideline can be applied to bar service as well. 

Private Parties: It is not recommended to tip servers or bartenders at private parties, unless the server has provided extraordinary service.

  • Etiquette experts suggest a small tip of appreciation in special circumstances, such as help when you spill on your shirtfront.

There are a few other situations when it is customary to leave a small tip:

  • Valet parker: $2-$5
  • Doorman: $5 for hailing a cab (more generous tips are recommended around the holidays for doormen you encounter regularly)
  • Coat check clerk: $1-$2
  • Hairdressers, barbers, manicurists, etc.: 10% of total bill (more is recommended during the holiday season)
  • Taxi driver: 15% of total bill
  • Skycaps at airport: $1-$2 per bag
  • Grocery loaders: $1-$3 depending on the number of grocery bags

Sources: How to be a Gentleman, John Bridges
Essential Manners, Peter Post

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