Tag Archives: restaurants

How and who to tip

I woke up this Christmas Eve morning to the sound of clinking glasses. The milkman has come to deliver my holiday milk order. I forgot to leave out his Christmas card yet again. This is rapidly becoming a tradition in my house. Whereas last Christmas, I spent the holidays with my beloved’s family; we’ll be having Christmas in our house this year. That means I can give Stuart the Milkman his card, homemade chili jam and his tip the day after Boxing Day. Another fortuitous outcome of this oversight is I get to share my thoughts on tipping in this impromptu post. One gives a tip to show appreciation for a good service. It is acceptable, and in most cases expected, to tip our hairdressers and waiters. I was a waitress in a former life. So now, I never eat out unless I can afford to leave a good tip. I also always tip the bartender after I order my first cocktail. Happy bartenders make better drinks. With that said, one must not feel any obligations to leave a tip if you have received bad service. 

Photo from tippingresearch.com

How much to tip Deciding how much to tip can be tricky. When it’s been decided for you with a service charge, you can just leave it at that. Leaving a tip should appear considerate. Don’t just thoughtlessly leave £1 (or 1 or a crown) on the plate; the waitress is not a homeless person. Nor should you just empty the entire contents of your purse. Ten to fifteen percent of the bill is generally acceptable, any more and it might seem as though you are expecting oh shall we say, “other” favours.

Tipping on holiday In the United States, the restaurant serving staff supplement their wages with tips. This makes it  practically criminal not to leave a tip. If you do the same in Japan, your server will chase you down the street because you “forgot your money”. But as hotels and holiday resorts adapt more and more to Western customs, tipping is becoming the norm.

Photo from The Standard

Debretts advises to think of tipping in units. So for instance, for the porter who helped carry your luggage to your room, that’s one unit per case. For the doorman who got you a cab, that’s one unit. You are not expected to tip the doorman if he simply opens the door of an awaiting taxi for you. Now, I advocate deciding for yourself how much one unit is, within your own budget. For me, one unit is the price of a decent cup of coffee in that city. In Rome, that may be €2, in Manila it’s the price of a latte in Starbucks. Finally, I would like to mention that it is not customary to tip the proprietor of the business.

With that, I will leave you all with my warmest wishes for the festive period. Don’t forget to leave a little something for Father Christmas. Traditionally, it’s mince pies and a carrot for his reindeer. Although in our house, Father Christmas enjoys whisky. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year! EtiKate



Formal dining: using your napkin

I recently wrote a short piece on Restaurant Etiquette for the website Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling. Even as I was writing it, I knew I could not possibly cover every aspect of  restaurant dining in one article. There are a myriad of things to consider; most of them, thankfully, have been ingrained into our psyche. Some aspects however, require a little more consideration. I’m rather proud that I am able to fill an entire blog post solely with “napkin etiquette”.

Photo credit theluxelife.com

Photo credit theluxelife.com

The title of this post is not “Napkin etiquette”. Could there be such as thing? The napkin is always inoffensively hidden in plain sight, on one’s lap. So here is my post on napkin etiquette, more appropriately entitled: The Etiquette Butterfly’s Practical Guide to Using Your Dinner Napkin.

1. The napkin for your use is the one to your left, or directly in front of you or tucked in your wine glass. Place it on your lap as soon as you are seated. Do so without show or flourish.

Refrain from using the napkin as a bib. The exception is that if lobster is to be served, a suitable bib may be provided or everyone may tuck their napkin into their collar. If you regularly stain your shirts, it might be because you are leaning in too close to the table when you take a bite or eating your soup incorrectly. Do read more on my previous posts on eating messy food and soup etiquette.

Fold the napkin with the edges facing away from you

Fold the napkin with the edges facing away from you. Photo credit: Jay and Bee

2. Place the napkin on your lap folded in half with the edges away from your body (see photo above). There is a practical reason for this. We all know napkins are there to prevent staining one’s clothes and for dabbing excess food from around one’s mouth (I say dab; madam shouldn’t have to ruin her lipstick now, should she?). Dab with top layer of the napkin only.

If the edges were facing you or the napkin is laid unfolded, the natural tendency would be to use the side of the napkin which is in contact with your clothes. This would defeat the purpose of having a napkin. (See evidence below).

Food stains (beautifully represented by my red lipstick) kept from clothes by two layers of cloth.

3. If you have to temporarily leave the table for whatever reason, place the napkin on your chair. Just place it again on your lap when you return.

4. When you have  finished your meal, place the napkin directly in front of you on the table, or to your left if your plate is yet to be cleared. This is one way of showing the waiter you have finished. There is no need to fold it neatly, just lay it crumpled as it falls.

Photo credit powerscourthotel.com

Photo credit powerscourthotel.com

Napkins or serviettes?
Traditionally, a person belonging to the upper-class would probably say ‘napkin’ and the middle-classes would call it a ‘serviette’. None of that matters today, of course. Now, it is customary to call the cloth ones ‘napkins’ and those folded paper ones used at McDonald’s ‘serviettes’.