The Savvy Gal's Guide To Tipping Etiquette

Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Tipping can be complicated. And, sometimes, to the detriment of the service provider, we don't always get it right. How much are you supposed to leave the hotel housekeeper or the wedding bartender? To clear up the confusion, we asked etiquette expert Akilah Easter to help us tip like a boss under any circumstance.
Click through for smart advice on leaving the correct gratuity in every situation. You'll never be left wondering if you left enough again.
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Splitting The Bill
At a restaurant when an equal amount of food was shared among all parties, just assume you will all split the bill evenly. Don’t pull out the calculator and compute your total. Just make it even if everyone shared the appetizers, ordered an entrée, and had the same number of beverages.

Exception: If a person obviously only ate a small meal, like soup or just a salad — or if they didn't have a drink — don't expect them paying an even amount.

Note, as of this year, the IRS is instituting a new law to make sure that automatic gratuities are now taxed as service charges. So, these tips would having the same tax parameters of a regular wage instead of the declaration being taken care of by the server. As a result, fewer restaurants will be building in tips for large parties.

Tip: 20% tip on a large party check
Tip is calculated from the subtotal (before tax) and can be evenly divided among the entire party.
$400 for a party of four = $100 per person
Tip: Each person leaves 20% of their total ($20), so in the end, it will come to $120 per person.
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Pick-­Up From A Sit-Down Restaurant
People don't usually tip on takeout because they don’t “see” the work that is performed. But, it is suggested to tip a couple dollars — or 10% — on a takeout order, as work has been done by the person taking the order over the phone (or retrieving the order from the Internet), and the order was packaged and prepared. In short, there was effort exerted assembling the Pad Thai you're going to eat in front of the TV.

Tip: $2 to ­$5, or 10% of the subtotal.
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Service Assistance
Tipping when traveling is a way to thank the staff for their due diligence, and it just might make for a better stay. If you become a regular at a hotel, this will definitely enhance your visit — the staff will often give you the perks that many may not have the privy to experience. The parameters below are based on U.S. customs. When traveling abroad, research the country's tipping protocol.

Service: Valet
Tip: $2 to $5
Advice: If want better service, or have your car left in front of the establishment, tip before and after. Otherwise, you traditionally tip after your car is retrieved.

Service: Room Service
Tip: $5 minimum, or 15 to 20% of the total

Service: Housekeeper
Tip: $2 to $5
Advice: Leave daily with a note that says "For housekeeping"

Service: Skycap, bellhop, porter
Tip: $2 first bag, $1 each additional
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Discounted Services
When you have a discounted service, tip on the regular price. Discounts are offered by the company or higher ups; the individual providing the service should not have to suffer for when they give you the same quality of service.

Research the original price and tip 15 to 20% on that amount.
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Tip the bartender — whether cash bar or an open bar — per drink. This consistency will bring your drinks faster and ensure the bartender will “take care of you” for your tenure. If you start a tab, treat it as a restaurant bill, tip at the end on your total bill.

Tip: Per drink, $1 to $2. Bar tab, 15 to 20%.
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Beauty Services
Beauty-service tips should be given in cash. With many services, multiple individuals are involved and cash is easier to distribute. Prepare ahead of time and hit that ATM!

Tip: 15 to 20% of service provided
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Holiday Tip-Outs
Your yearly tip-outs are for those people who you see regularly (once a month or more) and make your life easier. A large tip at the end of the year thanks them for their contribution to your family and your life. These people have been your counselor, bettered your health, made you more beautiful, and delivered your packages. Provide your tip in cash or the new VISA/MasterCard gift cards (with no fees!) in a nice envelope with a handwritten thank-you note — don’t just hand over a wad of cash.


Personal Trainer: One session price

Doorman: $25 to $100

Housekeeper: One week's salary

Stylist/Colorist: $25 to $100, depending on your regular services

Manicurist: $10 to 40, depending on how often you visit. Weekly visits should be toward the higher end of the range.

Nanny: One week's salary and a gift from the kids

Mailperson: Legally cannot accept cash gifts, and tangible gifts should not exceed $20 in value.
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Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
The 20% Rule
Many people have their own personal tipping range based on the quality of service. A good range for a city with a high cost of living such as Chicago is 18 to 20% — most people choose the latter because the math is easier.

If the service is extremely poor, it's better to tip in the 15% to 18% range versus no tip at all. If the service was extremely poor, express this to the staff or supervisor instead of being passive aggressive and providing no tip after eating an entire meal.

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