While well-mannered folks agree that it’s proper form to tip your waiter or waitress (at least)15 to 20 percent at a sit-down establishment, the party line on tipping for carry-out or pick-up orders is a little blurrier. If you view tipping as a way to acknowledge your waiters' service and show appreciation for their time, take-out presents a challenge of sorts: On one hand, you’re not being served; you’ve driven yourself to the restaurant, found parking, walked inside, and picked up your food. On the other, someone took the time to box up your meal, toss in the requested condiments and cutlery, and put it all in a tidy little package that ultimately saves you a whole lot of time, work, and kitchen clean-up. So what’s the verdict?
For tricky manners matters like these, we like to consult a source that’s been dishing out the dos and don’ts of etiquette protocol since 1922, The Emily Post Institute. Their experts say that there is “no obligation” for tipping on take-out orders, but they do suggest tipping 10 percent for additional services, like curb delivery, or if you have a “large, complicated order.”
Of course, just because you aren’t obligated to do something doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
I practically have a standing Sunday night appointment to pick up an order of basil rolls and stir-fried noodles at my neighborhood Thai restaurant. Because I see those folks on the reg, it’s important to me that they feel appreciated and receive a little something for their time. (And because, pridefully, I don’t want them to view me as a stingy Scrooge who never throws down an extra dime to thank them.) A 10 percent tip for my easy, no-substitutions, no-extras order feels appropriate, so I make sure to tack that on when I sign the bill.
Ultimately, though, whether or not you tip on a carry-out order is completely up to you. So what do you think … to tip, or not to tip on take-out? That is the question.
WATCH: Mind Your Manners: Leftovers
Whether you're eating carry-out at home or dining in a friend's home, there’s no excuse for bad manners. Good manners are free of charge, easy to employ, and bona fide evidence that your mama and daddy raised you right. Here, we're covering the etiquette of leftovers.