Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
What’s the Tipping Protocol When Dining With a Big Group?
Q. When I dine out with a large group, a 20 percent gratuity is usually included in the bill’s total. If the service is really
excellent, I always feel like a skunk if I don't leave an extra tip on top of the 20 percent minimum. What’s the right thing
A. There’s nothing more revealing about people’s personalities than watching them the moment the check hits the table at a restaurant. There’s always the person who is suddenly very engaged in conversation and can’t be bothered, while someone else emerges as the person who deals with the math and the tip. And then there’s the “Wait, how are we splitting this?” person, and still others who will sit by and complain about how expensive it all was, and that their food wasn’t that good. And then there is you. (Bless you―you must have waitressed at some point in your life.) You’re the person mostly concerned with the poor staff not getting properly compensated. Since you care about this particular aspect of the bill, I recommend that you step up and volunteer to be the person spearheading the bill management. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming that person in the peanut gallery piping in about how much tip to leave without really helping to get it done. If you establish right away that you would like the group to leave a certain percentage for the tip, chances are, most people will go along with you. And if there is resistance to your proposal, then you’re in a perfect position to slip a little extra into the pot without making your fellow diners feel badly.
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