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Tips for Tipping: What to Give, When to Give, and How to Give

Dec 23, 2019 3 min read Michael DiChiara

Key Takeaways

  • Do the math — there are shortcuts to make it less complicated.
  • Food servers aren't the only service providers who deserve tips.
  • Show some extra appreciation during the holidays.


When you're buying a round of drinks or splitting the bill at dinner, the question of how much to tip is bound to come up. While tips are usually simple to calculate, it can be difficult to decide how much to give if the service was particularly outstanding (or terrible), or if you're deciding as a group. Perhaps we can all benefit from a tipping primer.
Whether you're tipping your server or a worker in a different industry, it helps to know how much — and what kind — of a tip to give.

 


Whether you're tipping your server or a worker in a different industry, it helps to know how much — and what kind — of a tip to give.


Simple math

Tipping your servers may feel like second nature, but do you know what constitutes an appropriate tip? A good tip is considered 20% of the total bill. It only takes some basic math to calculate; you don't even need a calculator to figure it out! For example, if your total bill is $44.00, move the decimal point over to make it $4.40, then multiply by two for a 20% tip of $8.80. (You can also round that up to $9.00 if you want to avoid having to do even more addition.) A less precise strategy is to double or triple the sales tax (depending on the tax rate in your state).

Tipping in the food industry goes beyond just tipping your servers. There are also delivery drivers and bartenders to consider. For bartenders, the same rule for servers applies: 15-20% of the tab. When it comes to delivery service, the amount you tip largely depends on the size of your order. For a regular order, 10% should suffice, but if the order is complicated or delivered during hazardous conditions, give the driver a heftier tip of 15-20% for braving the elements.


Tip other service providers

Food industry workers are far from the only service providers you should tip. It's good practice to compensate the people who help you look, feel, and live your best. You may be aware that tipping your hairdresser is a common courtesy, but if someone other than your stylist washes your hair before your appointment, you should tip them too. This also applies to moving. The movers who help you take everything from your old home to your new home deserve fair tip for their labor. (It's also good practice to provide lunch and beverages to your moving crew.) The more strenuous the move, the more money you should tip.

This handy table can help you decide how much to tip workers in various industries:

 

 


'Tis the season

Giving an end-of-year tip (as long as you don't go over your budget) is a great way to spread holiday cheer. From your doorman to your babysitter to your dog groomer, a little thanks goes a long way.

Sometimes it's better to give a physical gift rather than a cash tip — especially during the holidays. For example, when parents give a thoughtful gift to their child's teacher, it sends a powerful message of gratitude. Books and gift certificates can be appropriate holiday gifts for teachers.

You can also offer gifts to nurses or other healthcare professionals. Food and dessert platters are an inclusive way to show your appreciation to attentive staff. If you prefer to give money, you can make a donation if it's a non-profit institution.


Travel tips (pun intended)

Keep in mind that tipping workers — especially waiters — is mostly an American custom. In certain foreign countries, such as Switzerland and Japan, workers earn a living wage and tipping would be taken as an insult. If you have travel plans, brush up on your destination's tipping and etiquette customs before you make the trip.

 

What you can do next

Make a list of your favorite service providers and set aside money for end-of-year holiday tips. By budgeting for the added expense, you can spread extra cheer without adding to the stress of the season.

 

Michael DiChiara is a Content Manager at Prudential.

 

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