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The Senior’s Guide to Tipping

The Senior’s Guide to Tipping

From stylists to skycaps, tipping is an important income source that goes far beyond restaurant employees. But for seniors and caregivers, it can be difficult to afford a proper tip for good service — or even know what constitutes a good tip. This guide to tipping aims to help you figure out how much to give, and when.

But First, a Bit of History

According to a New York Times Magazine article on tipping, there’s some speculation that the word is an acronym for “To Insure Promptitude.” The custom of tipping is traced back to the English Tudor period and was limited primarily to tavern keepers. Over time, tipping etiquette spread into practically every service industry.


The need to leave a tip is not always cut and dry, so here’s a little help. According to Emily Post’s “General Tipping Guidelines,” you can usually pass on those tipping jars at the bar. In addition:

  • Waitstaff in a restaurant should be tipped 15 to 20 percent of the bill before taxes are added.
  • Buffet staff receive 10 percent tips; hosts and maître d’s are not obligated tips.
  • If you’ve been confused whether to tip a carry-out meal, you only do so (10 percent) for large, complicated orders or curb service.
  • Delivery people who bring your food expect 10 to 15 percent tips.
  • Tip bartenders $1-2 per drink, or leave 15 to 20 percent of the tab when you’re finished.
  • When he or she returns your car, give the valet $2-5.


If you plan to travel extensively, plan to tip extensively, too. Take along this guide to tipping:

  • At the airport, tip the skycap $2 for the first bag, and $1 for each additional bag.
  • Don’t tip a doorkeeper for merely holding the door open for you. For anything additional, a $1-4 dollar tip is standard.
  • The bellhop waiting at the door usually receives $2-3.
  • There’s no need to tip the concierge for answering questions, but do tip $5-10 for any tickets or reservations made.
  • Often neglected, it is entirely appropriate to tip housekeepers $2-5 for each day’s service. An accompanying note of gratitude is also appropriate.
  • Any service at a salon or spa calls for a 15 percent tip.

Remember that tips are a part of an employee’s livelihood, and the best thing to do in any situation is to use sound judgment. While no guide to tipping can give you all the answers you need, these guidelines can help you provide your servers with tips that thank them for their hard work and allow you to live within your means.

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