Tipping Guidelines for Catered Events

Waiter with tray of pastry

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In the whirlwind of preparing for your catered event, it's important to remember to tip all the individuals that are helping make your event a success. Many of the staff working for a catering company rely on these tips for their living. It also is good etiquette and only reflects positively upon yourself. Show the catering staff how much you appreciate their hard work for your special event with generous tips.

Tipping the Staff

It is customary and expected for you to tip the staff that is working on your catered event, about 15 to 20 percent of the total catering bill. This includes the waitstaff, the kitchen staff, the bartender, the coat-check person and the valet. Many people don't realize that the tip is not included in the hefty service charge that comes with a catered event. Some venues will include a gratuity fee on the bill however, in which case no extra tips to the staff is necessary. Find out ahead of time how the catering service handles tips so you will be prepared.

Tipping the Owner

You do not need to tip the caterer who owns his own business. He may be coordinating all of the catering elements of your event, but as the owner, he is getting a majority of the profit. Tip the catering staff, but do not feel obligated to tip the owner. An exception may be if the owner has gone above and beyond his agreed-upon duties, throwing in extras at no charge.


Sometimes the people who get forgotten when it comes to tips are the people who are dropping off items for your catered event. This includes the florist deliverer, cake deliverer and food deliverer. This also includes those delivering and setting up a tent for the event. You should arrange for someone to tip people delivering items for the event about $5 to $10 each.

How to Tip

Tip those who will not be around at the end of the event right away, such as the delivery and set-up people. You can arrange to have the person accepting the tips give each person an envelope. For the catering staff who will be there at the end of event, you can hand individual envelopes to the catering manager or banquet hall manager, who will distribute the tips to each member of the staff.