DEAR MISS MANNERS: I sometimes host cocktail hours at my home for people in my industry. The company that supplies the bartender prohibits a tip jar and adds a 21% service charge to their bill, of which the contract states 18% goes to the service staff.
This compensates the bartender at a living wage and then some. Still, some guests insist on sliding across dollar bills, which makes others reach into their wallets, too, which defeats part of my hospitality. Is there a way to tell people that staff in my home have already been fully tipped (a practice I find abhorrent anyway)?
GENTLE READER: Before the guests arrive, assemble the service staff, say how much you are looking forward to the party, thank them profusely -- and remind them that, as a demonstration of that gratitude, they will be receiving 18% of the bill as tips so that guests may enjoy themselves.
After the party starts, intercept the first tip and return the money to your guest, asking that they please not worry themselves: You have already ensured that everyone is being fairly compensated.
Miss Manners notes that this will go better if you have used your pregame meeting to identify the server least likely to grimace behind you when you return your guest’s money. As a party game, everyone could then go looking for the unexplained 3% that has been added to your bill.