Get a signed copy of our latest book, Emily Post's Etiquette - The Centennial Edition, for yourself or to give as a gift, and support Vermont's independent bookstore Bridgeside Books.

Join our Substack newsletter for more from Emily Post.

Finer Points of Tipping Hero Label

Finer Points of Tipping

Tipping is one of the most stressful and confusing aspects of etiquette today. It is a significant way to show appreciation for a job well done; however, treating the person who has served you with respect is every bit as important. Furthermore, praising the person himself, or, when you can, commending him to his supervisor, can go a long way toward letting him know what constitutes good service. For how much to tip, please see our general tipping guidelines.

Always treat servers with respect.

Leaving a generous tip doesn’t make up for ordering someone around or treating them dismissively. While tipping augments servers’ incomes and rewards them for a job well done, treating them kindly is just as important.

Remember to carry some cash.

Some places, such as salons, it may not possible to put a tip on a credit or debit card. This is also a good idea when staying at hotel.

If you are in doubt about whether to tip, ask in advance.

If a department store is scheduled to deliver a new sofa, call and ask someone in the furniture department whether tipping is customary; in a hair salon, ask the receptionist. In some situations, leaving a tip could be seen as demeaning. Taking the time to find out what’s expected can spare you an embarrassing moment.

It is acceptable to tip on the pre-tax amount of the bill.

For large parties this can be quite different than the total.

Tipping discreetly is classy.

Tipping is a private matter. Don’t act like a “big spender” and flash a lot of bills.

Money is the tip of choice.

Sometimes a small gift, usually given during the holidays, can be substituted for cash. In the case of a hairdresser, for example, this gift can “top off” the cash tips you’ve given over the year. Read more about holiday tipping.