Monday, July 19, 2010

Tipping Etiquette

Tipping has become a widespread social custom of including extra payments to service-related industry workers. They are never required and vary by culture. Failing to give an adequate tip often violates etiquette standards. Knowing when and who to tip is always uncomfortable when you are unsure of who should receive it and the amount to delegate. Here are some basic rules of gratuity…

Service-related industries are built upon gratuities. The actual wages of the workers are extremely low, approximately $2, as employers factor in tips to the overall salaries of employees. If employers had to pay higher salaries because workers were not generating enough income from tipping, the costs of the said businesses would increase and no one would be happy. Therefore, one should always tip a bartender, taxi driver, delivery person, hotel maid and server but each one requires a different method. (Keep in mind that these are GENERAL rules of gratuity.)

o Tipping a bartender $1 per drink is usually sufficient.

o For a Taxi Driver, everyone has different ideas of right/wrong, but it is customary to give between 10% and 15% of the fare. Citidex has the New York City pricing guides.

o It is customary to tip a delivery person between $2 for small packages and $4-$5 if there are more. For large items, such as a bed, $10 is appropriate.

o Hotel maids/housekeeping should get $2-$3 per bed per night. The tips should be given each day. Check out’s Tipping Guide for Hotels by Charlyn Keating Chisholm.

o Servers typically receive between 15% and 20%. When calculating the tip, dividing the pre or post-tax dollar amount by 5 would provide you with a 20% tip. Dividing by 6 will give 17.5%→18% and diving by 7 will offer 15%.

o Tip Jars: Up to You… There is no steadfast rule about a tip jar next to a cash register. Although the trend has been popping up around pizzerias, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks alike, do not feel obligated to contribute to the fund. At this juncture, many only tip if they receive exceptional service.

You may tip anyone who went above and beyond to help you. A tip is not only a cash gift but an acknowledgement of your appreciation for services rendered. Eye contact, a smile and a big thank you are also a must when someone does something for you.

Etiquette enables people to avoid uncomfortable situations by providing social standards. Setting a good example for kids by using and applying the behaviors will ensure that they will have the social skills to succeed in society in the future. PS- is a great resource to answer the rest of your burning questions about tipping.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rules for Eating Utensil Placement

In the Dear Julie section of, a question was recently submitted about the placement of eating utensils. “Where are the utensils placed during and after a meal?”

As I had responded to the “anonymous” writer, the rules of dining etiquette are simple and finite. They clearly signify a brief pause in eating or the end of a delicious meal. Using proper dining etiquette ensures that the place setting, tablecloth and person’s lap stay clean throughout the meal. Therefore, used utensils should never be placed on the table.

Soup bowls are often brought on flat plates, which is where the spoons should be placed when the portion is complete. According to, the same is true for position of spoons for tea and shrimp cocktail forks.

When taking a break between bites, the fork should be placed on the left side of the plate and the knife on the right. This is because when one uses the knife and fork, the knife is held with the right hand (to slice), while the left hand holds the fork (to keep the the food in place).

If you would like a second helping, put the fork and the knife together on the right with the handles facing towards you. This will make room on the plate for another portion of food.

When finishing a delicious meal, Chef Albrich will tell you that the knife and fork should be placed parallel to each other with the handles pointing to the right. Jennifer Maughan will remind you to place them more towards the center, so they don’t fall off the plate when removed by a server.

Teaching children the three tricks to utensil placement will ensure that the social skills become an innate behavior. Children will not have to think about how to behave properly: they just will. They can teach their friends, the word will spread, and you will no longer have to worry about flying utensils when servers clear your place setting.

If you have an etiquette question, it can be answered for you! Go to the Dear Julie section of the website. All questions are anonymous; all tips are free!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Passing Etiquette

Sitting at the dinner table in a formal dining situation, many people are unaware of the rules that are in place for how to pass food. As etiquette was created to allow people to feel comfortable in social situations, knowing the informal rules will help when in a group setting.

According to Essortment, simple rules of handling:

1. says to always serve the woman at the right of the host and all of the women thereafter, feeding the men last. Modern manners dictate that when passing serving dishes around the table, everything initially goes to the right.

2. When someone asks you to pass the salt, pass the salt and pepper. It is like getting two for the price of one!

3. If someone asks you to pass a dish, do not help yourself to a serving until after that person has taken what they want.

4. As stated in The Art of Manliness, don't leave your seat and enter someone's personal space to reach for something. Just ask the nearest person to hand it to you. Please. Reaching across the table ensures that both you and your neighbor will be wearing your meal instead of eating it.

Children can abide by these rules as well. As they learn from modeling behavior, be sure to follow these rules of etiquette yourself. Insist that they also “use their manners” at dinner by practicing Passing Etiquette. Meal time will have far fewer spills and much less stress! And of course social skills will be at an all-time high...