9 People You Should Tip, and How Much You Should Give Them

iStock
iStock

In the age of Square payments and online food delivery apps, it’s easier than ever to click a button and tip your barista or delivery guy. But those aren’t the only people you should  give a little extra. Here are a few tips for tipping, lest you start being known around town as a total Scrooge.

1. WAIT STAFF

Tipping 15 percent of the pre-tax bill (20 percent for good service) at restaurants is standard, but depending on where you live, a larger tip might be in order. In some states, tipped workers make less than minimum wage—even in expensive regions like Washington D.C.—so it’s always better to tip on the generous side. The federal tipped minimum wage is a horrifying $2.13 per hour, so keep that in mind before you stiff someone.

Plus, you should keep in mind that tips often don’t go solely to your waiter or waitress—tips are pooled between wait staff and back-of-the-house workers, and usually there are restaurant rules governing who wait staff should be tipping out. Bartenders, bussers, and runners usually get a cut, since they also play a big role in making sure your food and drink gets to the table in a timely manner.

2. BARTENDERS

At least a dollar per drink is the minimum, but if you’re on a tab, you can do the usual 15 to 20 percent. If you’re taking up bar space for hours but not drinking much, or if your bartender comps you a free drink, throw them a little extra. The same goes for complicated cocktails.

3. FAST FOOD AND COFFEE SHOP TIP JARS

The Emily Post Institute’s official policy is that there’s no obligation to put a dollar in the tip jar, but if you’re a regular or you’re asking for a complicated order, please be generous. While baristas generally make minimum wage, chances are they’re not getting paid much more than that. The Washington Post reports that at one D.C. coffee shop, tips account for around an extra $3 per hour for workers, while at a local La Colombe, baristas get about $50 a day from tips. When you’re slinging lattes to pay your bills in an expensive city, that kind of extra money can make a big difference.

4. DELIVERY DRIVERS

According to the food experts at Eater, the minimum tip for any delivery order, no matter how small, should be $5. On a larger order, go with 15 to 20 percent standard. That means if a 15 percent tip is less than $5, don’t default to the cheaper option! The same goes if you get groceries delivered. Remember, drivers don’t get a penny of that delivery fee, so don’t be stingy. And if you’re not sure why you need to pay a little extra for the pleasure of eating restaurant food in your pajamas, Groupon’s interview with a former pizza delivery driver is worth a glance.

5. PARKING ATTENDANTS

If a valet brings your car around for you, you should fork over at least $2 before driving away. That driver is the one keeping your nice car from getting dinged.

6. BATHROOM ATTENDANTS

Yes, you should give someone a buck for handing you paper towels and providing some lotion. But if the attendant is just there to make sure no funny business goes on in the restrooms, the Etiquette Scholar says you don’t need to tip.

7. SALON AND SPA WORKERS

A good rule of thumb is, if someone’s touching your body, tip generously. For one thing, that person has to deal with your gross toenails or back pimples. Give at least 15 to 20 percent to your manicurist, massage therapist, and waxing specialist. Keep in mind that in some salons with especially cheap services, your manicurist could be working for illegally low wages. And in the case of massages, working out those muscle knots for 60 to 90 minutes is hard, physical work. Tip accordingly.

8. HOTEL WORKERS

You need to tip the hotel staff, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association has a helpful tip guide you can consult [PDF] to figure out who gets how much. Tip a dollar or two to your shuttle driver, the bellhops who carry your luggage, and the door staff that hail your taxis. Housekeepers should get between $1 and $5 per night, left daily with a note specifying that it’s for them. Tip a dollar if the staff has to bring you something extra, like a cot or an extra blanket, and tip your concierge $5 to $10 depending on whether you’re getting restaurant recommendations or a hard-to-get theater ticket.

9. TAXI DRIVERS

In addition to the 15 to 20 percent tip, you should give your driver at least $2 for any bags carried. Maybe more if your suitcase is as heavy as a small whale.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Why Does Altitude Affect Baking?

This woman is going to make a quick stop at Whole Foods' bakery section before book club.
This woman is going to make a quick stop at Whole Foods' bakery section before book club.
nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you’re highly skilled in the kitchen, you might find yourself with a deflated cake or bone-dry brownies if you happen to be baking in Aspen, Colorado, for the first time. But why exactly does an oven at high altitude so often wreak havoc on whatever baked good is in it?

According to HuffPost, it all comes down to air pressure. The higher you are above sea level, the lower the air pressure is. This is mostly because there’s less air pressing down on that air from above, and it’s also farther from the gravitational forces on Earth’s surface. With less air pressure keeping liquid molecules in their liquid form, it takes less heat in order to vaporize them—in other words, boiling points are lower at higher altitudes.

“For every 500-foot increase in altitude, the boiling point of water drops by 0.9°F,” Dr. Craig F. Morris, director of the USDA ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory at Washington State University, told HuffPost.

Since liquids evaporate at lower temperatures, all the moisture that makes your signature chocolate cake so dense and delicious could disappear long before you’d normally take it out of the oven. To avoid this, you should bake certain goods at lower temperatures.

With less air pressure, gases expand faster, too—so anything that’s supposed to rise in the oven might end up collapsing before the inside is finished baking. Cutting down on leavening agents like yeast, baking powder, and baking soda can help prevent this. This also applies to bread dough left to rise before baking (otherwise known as proofing); its rapid expansion could negatively affect its flavor and texture, so you might need to adjust how much yeast you’re using.

If all the ways a recipe could go wrong at high altitudes—and all the experimentation needed to make sure it goes right—seem like a lot to keep track of, Betty Crocker has a handy chart with various types of baked goods and suggested modifications for them.

[h/t HuffPost]