When I was a very little kid, there was a sign in the parcel pickup lane of our grocery store that said "No Tipping."
I always thought this just meant that the guys who put the groceries in our back seat were not supposed to tip them over, although I could never figure out why they needed a sign to remind them of that. It seemed like common sense to me.
It wasn't until years later that I learned what a tip was and eventually put 2 and 2 together about the grocery store sign.
Now that I'm all growed up, I have to make decisions about tipping on a regular basis, and quite frankly sometimes I'm still confused about what it means.
Luckily, I found this website that pretty much explains it all, and because I'm such a giving person, I thought I'd share a few of the many recommendations they've listed for when and how much to tip in certain situations. Any commentary of my own will be in italics.
* Food Server - 15-20%
* Bartender - 15-20% or $1 per drink.
* Wine Steward - 10% of wine bill.
* Coat Check - $1
* Restroom Attendant - $1
* Keep small bills available for the purpose of tipping.
* Let the bellhop carry your luggage, even if it is one small bag.
* Tip the bellhop $5, in a first-rate hotel, plus $1 for each piece of luggage.
* Give the bellhop $5 for opening the room and showing it, even if you have no luggage.
* Make the exchange seamless. The money should be surreptitiously passed in a handshake or small, minor exchange.
(Travel tip... stay at Motel 6 to avoid this issue)
* Tip the stylist 10 to 15 percent of your total bill if he or she is the only person who worked on your hair.
* Give the shampoo person - if there is one - a separate gratuity. Typically, a shampoo person receives $1 to $2.
* Offer a 10 percent tip in a barbershop. If you don't get your hair cut very often but usually go to the same shop, consider a $5 tip.
* Tip the manicurist $1 to $3.
(tip for this pedicure? Priceless)
* Keep in mind that a maitre d' usually receives no tip, except a smile, unless he or she performs an extra service such as changing your table, wrangling you a great window table or bringing in that diamond ring on command.
* Tip $5 to $10, depending on the above - more if you feel especially generous. If you're a regular patron of the restaurant, tip the maitre d' every few visits.
(or, tell him "Here's a tip... GET A REAL JOB!")
* Have enough cash in your pocket to tip at least 10 percent over the fare.
* Go beyond standard expectations if your driver performs an extra duty such as acting as a tour guide or providing beyond-the-call-of-duty baggage handling - or if the cabbie gets you there lickety-split on a heavy traffic day.
* Remember that tipping is not mandatory, but drivers rely on tips for the majority of their salary.
* Give the tip with the fare.
(recommendation: interest rates are at an all-time low right now so consider taking out a home-equity loan in preparation of your cab fare)
* Tip $5 to $10 in a first-rate hotel, depending on the concierge's efforts.
* If he or she helps you find a limo, obtains great seats at the opera or recommends a wonderful out-of-the-way restaurant, reward the service with a tip.
* Give the money to the maid personally, as a safer alternative, or hand the envelope to the desk clerk and write "housekeeping" on it.
* Tip a maid $3 per night in an upscale hotel, $1 per night in other hotels. If you stay for a week, a bit more (perhaps $5 to $7 a night) is appropriate.
* Reward extra service, such as bringing more soap or towels, with an appropriate tip.
* Avoid adding the housekeeper's tip to your hotel bill as you check out.
(add extra $2 if someone doesn't bang on your door at 6:00 a.m. while shouting "HOUSEKEEPING!!!")
* Around the big holidays, in general the five-day-a-weeker can expect between $15 and $20, and the weekender between $5 and $15. Both? A generous gift is $25.
* You can go out and meet the delivery person and present the envelope with a warm handshake. Or, again, you can add it to your bill.
* As an alternative, a card in an envelope can be hung on your front doorknob with a rubber band and "Newspaper Delivery Person" written clearly on the front. Many delivery folk toss the paper from a moving car, however, and won't notice the card.
(to avoid this tip, cancel your newspaper 1 week before Christmas and renew the week after New Year's... so I've heard)
* U.S. Postal Service regulations state that mail carriers are not allowed to accept gifts of cash from their customers.
* They may accept gifts of food and beverages, perishable items such as flowers and cookies and gifts with a retail value of less than $20.
* Tipping is never required, but is often done around the holidays by people who see their mail carrier on a regular basis.
(I suck at this one. I always WANT to tip but I never remember)
Rubbish removal for the Dustman: (this one only showed up as a British suggestion, although I admit I've never heard of tipping the waste removal guy, so maybe there is no recommendation for Americans here)
* Select a time of year when a tip will be most appreciated. Christmas is normally the best time, when the streets are cold and the work of your dustman is even more arduous.
* Find out what day he comes and make sure you are in the house at that time.
* Put however much money you intend to give him in an envelope. It is best to stick with banknotes, so £5 is a good start.
* Watch for your dustman of choice approaching, and then leave the house taking the envelope with you.
* Ask to briefly speak to him as he is about to pick up your bin. Discreetly say that you appreciate his work and give him the envelope. Try to avoid the other dustmen or neighbours seeing this.
* If he does not accept, just smile and place the envelope on top of the bin and walk away. That way he has no choice but to pick it up.
(so covertly British... almost like a spy operation!)
* Give the dealer a tip appropriate to the service level. This is similar to restaurant service. Good service gets 15-16%; excellent service should get 20% or more. Base this amount on the amount with which you gamble.
* Bet for the dealer. Simply put a bet next to yours, and say, "Bet for the dealer" to the table. You still play the hand, but the dealer wins (or loses) the bet.
* Give the dealer a tip occasionally through the session. To do this, put the tip on the table away from your bet and say to the dealer, "For the dealer."
* Give the dealer a tip at the end of the session. Most casinos do not like you to hand the dealer anything, so as you are leaving, just put the tip on the table in chips or cash and say, "Thank you, this is for the dealer."
(Really? Give the tip at the END of the session? So what exactly IS 20% of nothing?)
Others mentioned at the web site in case you're interested, and this post wasn't quite long enough for your taste:
So as you can see, there are many opportunities for which to provide a gratuity. However, I think they left out one very important one: