Tipping has ingrained itself within American culture. What was once a gesture used “To Insure Promptitude” (T.I.P, see what they did there?) in the taverns of England in the 1700 slowly has made it’s way to serve as an indication of manners and gratitude. If this habit is so common today, however, how is it so hard to decide how much gratuity to give? It’s important to give back to the people who work hard to serve us, but how much is appropriate without breaking the bank?
A common misconception is that it is acceptable to tip your breakfast waiter or waitress 10% or less. Often times, however, you aren’t paying that much to start with at that little breakfast joint down the street. That breakfast special you order with two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and unlimited coffee for less than five dollars? A 10% tip on that would be fifty cents, and a majority of time, people leave less or none of that. If I woke up at 4 in the morning every day to wait on teenagers, workers in a rush, and crying babies, I would be pretty frustrated if I went home with only a few bucks, maybe ten if I’m lucky, after my shift.
A good rule to live by is a 40% tip at every breakfast place you eat at. 40% of your 5 buck meal would only make it 7 dollars total. I promise you can afford it, and you will make your server’s day.
Most of the time, coffee shops will have a tip jar. Whether it’s Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, or a local place on the corner of the street you work on, the typical accepted amount to tip on your cup o’ joe is less than a dollar. If you get change back, a good practice is to start throwing it in the jar instead of putting it in your pocket. The college kid behind the counter will greatly appreciate it.
If you ordered something complicated, over 5 bucks (you crazy, rich, coffee fiend, you), or you got incredible service, throw a dollar in the jar. Coffee shops are still in the service industry, and the employees work hard to keep you awake every day.
This one is probably the easiest; you should always tip between 15% and 20% at any restaurant. If it’s lunch time, 15% is perfectly fine. However if you are there for dinner, especially if it’s busy, you shouldn’t be tipping anything other than 20%. Many of these workers do not make minimum wage, and “tipping” may have been what attracted them to the food service industry in the first place.
At places like Chipotle and Panera, tips aren’t expected. However, if there is a tip jar and you just ordered seven burritos during the lunch rush, be considerate of their time and effort and leave them a buck or two. If you’re really nice, throw that extra change you get into the tip jar; it’s just going to weigh you down anyways!
A good rule of thumb is 1 or 2 bucks per drink. If it’s an elaborate mixed drink special, go for 2. If it’s a Bud Light, go with 1. Don’t ever skip on the tip for your bartender; next time you go out on that crowded Thursday night, you will not be their priority. They are sober, and they will remember that you don’t tip.
Fine dining is tricky because sometimes, you aren’t sure who you should tip and who you shouldn’t. The answer? Tip them all. Valet should always be between $1 and $3, your wait staff should be 20% of the bill, and if your host or hostess got that hour long wait down to 15 minutes because you forgot to make the reservation your girlfriend kept nagging you about, they deserve a few bucks, too.
If you are enjoying a buffet-style meal where you pay at a counter, get your own meal, and get your own drink, you don’t need to tip (obviously). However, if you are eating and wait staff brings you drinks, checks on you, and brings you your check, you should give them $2 or $3.
A minimum delivery tip should be $1, nothing less. As a general rule, you should tip about 15% on a delivery. If it’s an order for a large group (think 8 or more pizzas), tip a little bit more. And remember, the delivery charge is not an already included tip for the driver!
Normally, you wouldn’t think to tip when picking up some take out for dinner. On most occasions, this is fine. However, if you receive some sort of service besides a simple monetary transaction (read: packaging your food in a specific way for you, throwing you a discount that you didn’t know about, etc.) you should tip a dollar or two. They scratch your back, you scratch theirs, ya feel? They didn’t have to do any of that for you.
If you ordered sushi, give them up to 10%, as it takes a lot to prepare.
This follows the same rules of fast-casual dining. No tips are expected, but your spare change or a dollar in exchange for fast service (and delicious food) is greatly appreciated. A good tip makes a happy chef.