31 New Things: Leave a Really, Really Big Tip

Having worked in the hospitality industry before, I’m usually a pretty good tipper. If you ignore me, make snarky comments about my order of pie and bacon and then spill things on me, I will still probably give you 15%. And if you behave like a human being? I’ll give you 20%.And sometimes I’ll just give you 20% because my math skills rival those of a third grader and somehow it’s easier to figure out 20% than 15%.However, I’m not one of those people who tips three dollars for a five dollar drink. Largely because three dollars is roughly equal to my non-profit teacher’s salary. So I knew that if I was going to do this giant-tip thing, it was going to have to be A Very Special Occasion.

And what is a weekend in Vegas if not A Very Special Occasion?

During our three-day weekend in Las Vegas, the BFF and I ventured ever.so.slightly off the beaten path (aka three blocks from Fremont Street) and happened upon a very promising little piano bar, endearingly named Don’t Tell Mama. We decided that we should probably pop in for a few drinks, hoping that we’d see a sexy lady in a sequined dress rolling around atop a baby grand.

We did not see this. Instead, we saw a nearly empty bar, being serenaded by a 20-something dude who looked like a chubby Jonathan Brandis but sounded oddly like Frank Sinatra. We ordered drinks from a lovely and attentive waitress, suffered through a drunk and mumbled version of ‘Fool’s Rush In’ and wondered if we could find pizza anywhere between the bar and our hotel room.

But just as we were emotionally committing to a night of cheese and carbs in front of HBO, the lovely and attentive waitress took the stage and blew us away with her rendition of At Last. And then with You’re Gonna Love Me. And then lovely and attentive bartender took the stage and there were various amazing and awe inspiring duets! And then the other bartender joined them and it Destiny’s Child all over again. Really. It was amazing.

And it was obvious that everybody who worked there loveloveloved their job. They loved each other. There was that tangible taste in the air of people doing what they love. And the former theater-geek in me just wanted to jump up and hug all of them, wanted to be a 20-year-old music major at UNLV, waitressing at the coolest little piano bar in Nevada. They were so good at what they did and obviously loved it so hard.

I decided that they loved their job 110% so that’s probably the tip I should leave. So I did. And then I went back to the hotel and ate pizza in front of HBO.

Have you ever left a giant tip? Or received one?



i know there was alot more to your post than pie and bacon, but i am so stuck on that. pie and bacon! you crack me up sometimes!


i used to do makeup touch-ups for free at a really lush nightclub in Toronto. i often wouldn't even get tipped but sometimes people would pass me $5 and that would make my night. When that would happen i would go get a pizza slice after work and leave the rest of my tips to the pizza guy (which was roughly 110% but still not much…)

Once a lady loved what i did so much she gave me $30 and i tried to give it back to her because i made a decent hourly wage and she wouldn't let me leave without it. it was soo sweet.

i bought pizza for my roommates and i. It always goes back to pizza….


i used to do makeup touch-ups for free at a really lush nightclub in Toronto. i often wouldn't even get tipped but sometimes people would pass me $5 and that would make my night. When that would happen i would go get a pizza slice after work and leave the rest of my tips to the pizza guy (which was roughly 110% but still not much…)

Once a lady loved what i did so much she gave me $30 and i tried to give it back to her because i made a decent hourly wage and she wouldn't let me leave without it. it was soo sweet.

i bought pizza for my roommates and i. It always goes back to pizza….


This post makes me so happy.

I'm a poor (well, okay, I make decent money on my part-time job serving people food) student myself and can only imagine how happy a big tip must have made them.

But regardless of that – I really love the story. I love it when you can see that people just genuinely L O V E what they do.


What an *amazing* story. My family always goes out to dinner on Christmas Eve, and I love/hate it because I feel so bad for the wait staff who aren't home with their families. Perfect HUGE tip time.


I unintentionally left a big tip once, haha. It was in high school and we were allowed to leave campus at lunch so we all went to this little Mexican place and got tacos. It was a cheap meal and we had never really gone to a restaurant alone before so we didn't know how much to tip. Everyone left a dollar, so our little $10 lunch ended up getting a $5 tip.

Unicorns For Socialism

Once — while waitressing in New Zealand, where tipping is not customary — I received a $20 tip from a woman who ordered a basket of chicken fingers and fries. She had just won big at the casino, and wanted to spread the good luck around. God bless NZ!


In lieu of The Big Tip, sometimes I like to make The Big Phone Call when I get awesome service. If some shop assistant or waitress or phone-center person (or tow-truck driver, receptionist, gas station attendant,etc etc etc) treats me really well or is super sweet and helpful, I like to get their name and the time, and later call their supervisor and rave about them.

This works especially well at bigger companies where managers are always getting complaints. They are shocked to hear something positive, and I know that at least once someone has gotten a promotion as a result of my call! And it's free and takes 5 minutes 🙂


One time, a friend and I had a terribly embarassing experience at this nice restaurant downtown. Somehow, a chicken leg flew into a potted plant, sushi had slid off of my friend's plate, and our steamer for dumplings had been teetering of the edge of the table; all at the same time, right as our waiter had appeared to ask us how the meal was. I had thought that he would have been huffy and rude with what we had done, but he had just laughed along with us. For the rest of the meal he was having fun with us, just being as cheery as can be. He was especially attentive and warm towards us, which I thought deserved a whopping tip. Probably the biggest tip I have ever given.

amanda lee

I love that you did this. I just finished working a waitress/bartending job to tide me over until my current contract gig started, and I can't even tell you how many entitled, annoying people did exactly the opposite [leaving a $3 tip on a $100 sushi/bar tab]. Clearly your time as a waitress has given you a good deal of empathy…which speaks for how great a person you are. 🙂


I used to work in food hospitality as well and I remember someone left me a 50% tip. It was so generous that I felt guilty not going back to check if they made a mistake — and they didn't!

I usually leave the standard 15% unless it was horrible then it's 13% because if the base tip is based on whether you do your job or not (not so much how well), and you don't do your job, then you don't deserve 15%.

That Kind of Girl

What a GREAT story! And what worthy recipients of your big-tip gesture! Also, I can't believe I grew up in Vegas and have never heard of this bar. I'll have to check it out next time I'm visiting my parents!


My family went out to eat at California Pizza Kitchen and the waitress made one mistake after another. But she was really sweet and apologetic. She ended up not having us pay.

Since she was such a darling, my dad left her a $40 tip. He stood outside the windows waiting for her reaction and it was the nicest thing! All of the waiters/waitresses gathered around and it was just exciting!

Great challenge!

That Gal Kiki

I love that you did that!!! I, too have been on the receiving end in the service indutry (as a stripper and a food server) and can tell you, I tip the same way you do.

I remember getting tipped $100.00 one afternoon on stage and went home because my feet were killing me. Turns out, the club had a drug raid that night! It pays to follow your gut. Pun intended. 🙂


This is a nice story! I love hearing when people truly love their job…Did mention Fools Rush In? I love that movie!


As a Vegas local who frequents (and loves!) the cool little bars on the East side of Fremont, this post made my day. Glad you had a good time in one of the lesser-known unique places in town.

Hip Hip Gin Gin

My parents are always very nice tippers but it has become a tradition to tip crazy good whenever we find ourselves back in my college town. Most of the waitstaff in the whole surrounding area are college students and when I told my parents that while we were out one night they started leaving giant tips every time they took me out while I was in school.
They still do it when they are there on business and such.
And I always leave big tips on holidays, I hope everyone does. I figure the only reason I can have a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve is because these people are working instead of eating cookies with their family so they deserve to earn more!


I started tipping better when my waitress friend in AZ told me how much she made an hour. They don't even get paid minimum wage there because they are expected to get tips.
I'm not sure I have ever intentionally left a super big tip, but I left one on accident once after have quite a few drinks. I closed out my tab and wrote what my friends, who were a bit more sober, told me was a very generous tip. It may not have been intentional, but I still feel good about it. 🙂


I always tip pretty well too – I think it's hard not to after working as a waitress or bartender or something along those lines. I've never left a HUGE tip, but once I was getting coffee & the woman in front of me was just being NASTY to the barista almost to the point of making her cry and me deck her, so when I got my $5-or-so latte I was suuuuper polite & friendly & I gave her a $20 & said keep the change.

To me that's not HUGE, but it's enough to feel waaaay better after having an awful customer.

When I was a waitress I once got a $50 tip on a $70 dollar table which was pretty nice. I'm not even sure why they did it, but it was a nice surprise!


I work as a waitress, so I always leave at least 20%. I don't even know what would have to go wrong for me to give a bad tip. I always give servers the benefit of the doubt, just because I totally know how much craziness goes on behind the scenes sometimes. This was a really nice thing for you to do! You must've their night!


I accidently recently left a 100%+ tip on brunch. I paid, a friend went to the bathroom, we left when she got back… hours later I realized I never received my change. Oops! At least I felt good knowing I probably made that waiter's day.


This story made me smile so much! I'm going to have to write down the name of this bar in case I am ever in Vegas!
We don't tip here, so I don't even have any fun stories to share. It always weirds me out when I am in a place where you are expected to tip… I'm just not used to it and I don't want to be rude, so it's quite possible I over-tip all the time!


When I worked as a server at this little diner there was this one guy who would come in every day alone, read the paper and order the special – which was never more than 10$ and he would always leave a 20$ and say to keep the change. People like that really make up for the horrors of serving.


I usually try to leave atleast 10% of tips but I have to confess-sometimes when I don't have change I let it be lesser than 10%! Horrible, I know.
I am going to improve though.
And next time I go out: I'm leaving a huge tip just cuz of this post!


Having been a bartender, I usually tip really well whenever I go out, 20% at restaurants, usually a little more at bars. Whenever I go out to a bar, I usually go to the bartender first, hand them $20 and say "this is for you, get me whenever you can" and then I always tip $1-2 per drink as well. Always got great service and the bartenders always appreciated it.

On the other end, when I was bartending I used to get a lot of businessmen who were traveling. I had one guy come in every few months, would sit at the bar and eat dinner on Sunday (always got caesar salad, filet mignon and a bottle of red wine) and he would leave me a $150 tip every time! A lot of newer girl bartenders I knew would always blow off the older men and women and just flirt with younger guys. Too bad for them that young college guys are broke and don't tip! Older men and women appreciate good service and they know how to tip haha 🙂


Why yes I have! Mostly because I was a tourist dolt traevling around the US… my math is not super and I was embarrassed of not leaving enough, so I ended up giving a lot. Also, when I got a new tattoo in NYC, I gave a massive tip because I was so damn thankful! Fun fact; in San Francisco I ended up giving a bartender a kiss tip – all my drinks that night were free, how was I supposed to tip that? 🙂


i used to waitress at a "new england country inn" – a cozy and quaint little restaurant that was quite pricey. we also worked holidays.

on christmas, i made a 100% tip once… but also on another christmas eve, i made $2 on a $100 check… not cool. and i was the same lovely and attentive waitress for each occassion, haha.

sure wish i could sing too though…


I was an absolutely horrifyingly bad waitress at a sushi restaurant for about four months, and I hated it because no one bothered to train me or help me and they'd speak in Korean about me in front of me. But in that four month period 30-100% tips were a regular occurencce. I asked someone about a fifty dollar bill left for a seven dollar food bill, and thanked them profusely, and they said even though I'd minorly fucked up their order, I was so nice and apologetic about it I'd seem to spin it as almost endearing. I guess people in my town are just super duper nice!

emma wallace

When I lived in Seattle, I worked at a little cafe. I had several regulars, including a group of construction guys working on a renovation next door. They always left nice, 20% tips but one day, for his $15 check, one of them gave me a hundred dollar bill and told me to keep the change. Never gave a reason or did it again. I still get warm and fuzzy when I remember it.


If it's $3 for something, and you tip $2, it's so worth it just to know that a face is lightening up behind you. And yes, we call all afford it.


This was such a positive post. How sweet!

I also take tips pretty seriously. I can't specifically recall an amazing customer service experience off the top of my head, but I will say this: if you serve me well, I'll return the favor!

Um, that sounded kinda dirty, but…you get the idea.


As a college student, I may not always be able to afford enormous tips, but if I have a great waiter I always make sure to tell the manager "X did a fantastic job! He/she deserves a raise!". We people in customer service gotta stick up for each other, even if you can't do it monetarily. If that comment worked (it's been known to in the past,) I gave that person a lot more money than a big tip.

The Silver Sachet

Well, this isn't exactly a tip, but a couple years ago, my brother and i were walking around NYC and came upon a man playing the bagpipes in a small park with the case open. The music was so haunting and beautiful, that i dug in my purse and pulled out a hundred dollar bill i have saved to spend in New York and placed in the case. I never regretted it, even though i didn't purchase much of anything. Music inspired me that day


when i was in high school, a bunch of my friends went to olive garden and we left a $70 tip on a $100 bill. the waitress was so happy that she ran out of the restaurant to chase us down in the parking lot and thank us! it felt so good that she was so touched. it was nice to redefine the stereotype of bratty high school kids, too!

Sidewalk Chalk

This was a really sweet story. I usually leave a 15-20% tip, but I've always wanted to leave a huge one to make someone's day. Maybe soon!
I'm really glad I stumbled on your blog — I think it's inspiring that you're trying so many new things before your next birthday. Good luck!

– JoAnn, Sidewalk Chalk


I think once we tipped the pizza guy $13 dollars for a $17 order. We were feeling generous.

And I got some pretty awesome tips when I did pizza delivery. I think the biggest one I ever got was $50. Of course, it was for a huge order, but still, it's not like it took very long to deliver it. Oh, and I work at McDonald's and once in a while I have to do the birthday parties. People aren't expected to tip, but they often do, and the best tip I've gotten so far was $20.


I had a physical this year, had not eaten before it that morning.
after the physical, i was hungry and really tired. went to a great
breakfast place in Chicago, ‘Yolk’. had a fantastic waitress who
got EVERYTHING with my order right: coffee, pancakes, more coffee, water…
you get the idea.

She made me feel better. 🙂
I made sure that she was rewarded for amazing service with a ginormous
tip…$25 on a $35 bill. It was so worth it. I just love great service and someone who gets it.


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