Tipping is one of those things you don't learn about in school, but it's probably one of the most important things you'll do as a consumer. So it seems necessary to explain things like who not to tip, who you absolutely should tip but probably forget to, and even some ways people have gotten creative with the sometimes-awkward ritual of tipping. Tipping isn't just something customary, it shows your appreciation for someone working incredibly hard to make your experience the best it can be. It's important not to short change these individuals, because often times they're working for tips alone (or less than minimum wage, plus tips).
And while there are a few people in society that decide to just tip 20% wherever they go, it is generally acceptable to tip a certain amount, derived from the amount of service you're being offered. All jobs are not created equal, and sometimes it's fitting to tip someone more for going above-and-beyond.
Bartending is no easy gig, it involves being on your feet all night, coming home smelling like stale booze, making below minimum wage, and dealing with every kind of annoying drunk you've ever met. So tipping your bartender is an absolute must, as tips also make up a majority of their income.
When figuring out how much to reward the person who literally makes happy hour happen, it's important to consider how much work is actually involved in each drink. For a simple pint of beer, or glass of wine, $1 per pour is considered standard. For cocktails that require more steps, like a gin and tonic, $2 is considered polite. If your bartender is a mixologist who is actually grinding fresh mint into your mojito, $2-$3 or 20% of the total price of the drink is considered fair. And be sure to add extra if you receive particularly excellent service, that is why they do that, after all.
Delivery people really can't be tipped enough. Their jobs are notoriously difficult and they're paid very little in salary. That said, the standard tip for most deliveries is 10%. But if you're ordering a pizza in the middle of a snowstorm, you need to tip way more. Tip what you would want to be tipped to walk or bike through whatever weather you see outside your window, and if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford delivery.
While people will sometimes say 15% is the standard tip to give your waiter, the national average is actually 19%. And in cities where the cost of living is considered higher, 20% is the norm. This is because your tips are the bulk of what your server will earn, as the federal government sets the standard minimum wage for servers at a paltry $2.13 per hour.
If you are supremely unhappy with your server and are tempted to write something sassy on your receipt instead of a tip, consider talking to management before denying someone their salary. Basically, if you think people deserve to be paid for doing work, you should always tip - even a grumpy server - at least 15%.
When going to a fancy event, it's important to anticipate tipping the coat check, so it's smart to have some singles handy. The standard tip for one coat is $1, even if the coat check isn't free. You might think coat checking is easy, but remember, coats are heavy, and big events require coat checkers to be not only fast, but super organized, so coats aren't being lost left-and-right.
If the event charges you to check your coat, pay the fee when you check in at the start, and hand them the tip when you come to pick it up. Tips are why coat checkers do what they do, but not everyone realizes that, so expect them to be way friendlier and speedier when they see you're someone who knows the coat-check etiquette.