Tips on Tipping: Who to Tip and How Much to Give

giving-someone-a-tip
You’ve set up your bar mitzvah budget – hooray! – and you’re tracking expenses. But have you thought about gratuities? The time to do that is NOW, believe it or not, so you’re prepared on the big day.

Who do you tip? How much should you give? Mitzvah parents wonder about this. A lot. So we went straight to the vendors to ask for their expectations and guidelines when it comes to gratuities.

First things first: you won’t tip every vendor. Photographers, photo entertainment providers and decorators do not expect gratuity, and you wouldn’t tip the owner of a company. (If you do, they’ll just distribute it to working staff members.)

Caterers and Venues

  • In general, catering teams warrant gratuity if service was great.
  • The service charge, which you’ll see included in contracts and on your final catering bill, is NOT the tip. That covers the hourly wages of servers.
  • For excellent service, some caterers report that servers get a $20 tip, and bartenders $40. A banquet captain or buffet manager may get $50.
  • Other caterers report a flat 20% gratuity given on the final food and beverage fees for the owner to distribute to staff at their discretion.
  • When catering is provided through a hotel or event venue, the server and bartender tipping guide still applies, but you may also include a tip for your event manager if the experience exceeded expectations.
  • If you’re unsure about your caterer’s tipping policy, ask about it in a planning meeting. Make sure tipping is not already included in your contract and confirm how many servers/bartenders you will have at your event.
  • Also don’t forget to think about ALL your caterers – Shabbat dinner, Kiddish luncheon, etc….

DJs/Musical Entertainment

  • The DJ/MC/Dancer crew typically gets tipped for managing the party flow and creating the right atmosphere for guests.
  • Several DJs say any form of “thank you” is appreciated, but for those who wish to give cash, here’s a guideline for tipping:
    – MC $40-$100 per person
    – DJ and Dancers $20-$40 per person
    – Production crew (if staff is there to set up and breakdown stage, light kit, screen, etc.) $10-20 per person

Transportation

For safe, on time pick-ups of the kid crew or relatives, a tip of $20-$30 for the coach or limo driver is appropriate.

Synagogue Staff

You might offer a $20-$40 tip to the support services staff of your synagogue, depending on the size and scope of your on-site bar mitzvah arrangements – for setting up your Shabbat dinner, Kiddush luncheon or evening affair.

Clergy

While this isn’t a “tip”, it’s a nice touch to make a donation to your synagogue (through a discretionary fund, religious school fund, or whichever category is meaningful to your family) in appreciation of the rabbi and cantor following the bar/bat mitzvah weekend.

Remember, it’s totally OK to have conversations with your vendors beforehand about their tipping policies and how you can acknowledge outstanding service – and that’s an important TIP!



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