restaurant tip jar ideas
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Tipping is an age-old practice that has been around for hundreds of years. With the increased digitalization of transactions, tipping online has become just as popular as the old-school tip jar.

In today’s article, we’ll look at some creative restaurant tip jar ideas, as well as how you can enable online tipping at your restaurant.

What Does the Tip Jar Do in My Restaurant?

If you work in the hospitality industry, you are very familiar with the concept of a tip jar. A tip jar is a container that businesses display to encourage customers to leave a little extra money for the service provided.

So, how does a tip jar work? In most casual restaurants, it’s displayed next to the point-of-sale so it’s visible to customers ordering food or picking up their orders. Online, it can take the form of a field at checkout where customers can enter the desired tip before paying for their order.

Do People Tip More with a Full or Empty Jar?

Ah, the burning question. The most effective tip jars are those that have a little money in them. If the jar is empty, it will probably stay empty for the foreseeable future.

Customers tend to follow a pattern, so if there’s money in the tip jar, they’ll probably add some too, and they will often tip using the same bill denomination they can see.

What makes people tip more?

Since we’re on the topic of customer behavior, let’s have a quick look at some server tips and tricks that will determine customers to tip more:

  • Introduce yourself: This makes you appear friendly and personable, which goes a long way with customers.
  • Address regulars by name: A regular will already be tempted to tip more, especially if they see you make an effort to remember their name.
  • Offer recommendations and answer questions: You should know the menu inside and out so you can help customers make informed decisions.
  • Repeat the order back to the customer: That way, they know you’ve been listening and that you’re paying extra attention to get their order right.
  • Use positive body language: From simply smiling to visually checking in now and then to make sure the customers are enjoying their meal. These small gestures can improve customer service and lead to a bigger tip.

What Does Salting the Tip Jar Mean and Should You Do It?

tip jar

Source: Shutterstock

‘Salting the tip jar’ refers to the practice of adding some money to the tip jar yourself so customers can follow your lead using social proof.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the technique, you don’t want to end up just tipping yourself. A good alternative for that is to never empty the tip jar entirely, which leads back to the previous point of not having an empty jar.

10 Restaurant Tip Jar Ideas: How to Get More Tips in Your Tip Jar

Draw attention with a funny saying or pun

Funny tip jar signs get a lot of attention because they bring a smile to people’s faces. But before you use humor, look at your target audience to figure out what kind of jokes they would appreciate.

This will increase the chances of bigger tips while ensuring you don’t offend anyone. Here are some funny restaurant tip jar ideas you can use:

  • Tip Me Baby One More Time!
  • Let’s get tipsy!
  • Roses are tips, violets are tips, please give us tips.
  • Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy… but tip me maybe!
  • Afraid of change? Leave it here.

Incentivize with small freebies

Motivate people to tip more money or more often by offering incentives like a free beer to the largest tip of the night or an entry into a raffle to get a discount coupon for every dollar tipped.

Check out the video tutorial below to learn how to easily generate a discount coupon code in minutes:

Make people vote on a trending topic

Customers will be more tempted to tip if they’re invested in a topic. Based on your target market, come up with topics that they would love to vote on.

These voting tip jar ideas for restaurants can help you get started:

  • Friends vs The Office
  • Calling vs texting
  • Playlists vs podcasts
  • Puppies vs kittens
  • Marvel vs DC
  • Vikings vs Packers
  • Slytherin vs Gryffindor
  • Hot coffee vs iced coffee
  • Edward vs Jacob
  • Morning person vs night owl

Make up lighthearted consequences of not tipping

Keep it fun and light with messages starting with ‘Every time you don’t tip, …’

  • a child gets a mullet.
  • a Pokémon doesn’t evolve.
  • our trip to Mexico gets further and further away.

Use positive quotes that will brighten your customers’ day

If you don’t want to use funny restaurant tip jar ideas, you can always take a wholesome approach and put a smile on your customers’ faces with an uplifting message, such as:

  • Better days are on their way!
  • Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
  • Today is a good day to try.
  • Hey, you, reading this. Yes, you. You’re an awesome human being.

Appeal to customers’ modesty (or lack thereof)

Keeping in theme with making people laugh, challenge them to rate themselves in tips with signs like ‘On a scale of $1 to $10, how awesome are you?’. Replace awesome with any other compliment, from intelligent to good-looking or witty, and let the tips roll.

Turn the tip jar into a game of ‘Who tips best?’

Remember when we said customers like restaurant tip jar ideas that allow them to vote? This relies on a similar strategy, where people will want their side to win. Here are some examples of ‘Who tips best?’:

  • Men vs women
  • Introverts vs extroverts
  • Cat people vs dog people
  • Millennials vs Gen Z
  • Singles vs couples

Decorate the jar to celebrate holidays and special events

If you’re one to celebrate holidays at your restaurant, then you shouldn’t just decorate the interior, but the tip jar as well.

This will get everyone in the spirit of the holiday, be it Easter egg stickers for Easter, turkeys for Thanksgiving, or twinkle lights for Christmas. Pair the decorations with a holiday quote and you’ll be golden.

If you’re looking for additional holidays you can celebrate at your restaurant, as well as promotional ideas for each, download our Food Holiday Calendar for free.

Have every staff member decorate a tip jar and encourage customers to vote

This is a good way to engage your employees and customers alike. Have each employee decorate their own personalized tip jar and display all of them at the counter.

Urge customers to cast their vote by putting money into the jar they like most. Every staff member gets their tips, but the more time and energy they put into designing the tip jar, the more tips they’ll collect.

Support a cause (whether trivial or serious)

Looking for cute tip jar ideas for your restaurant? Ask people to donate money for a trivial ‘cause’ like ‘Support our staff’s addiction to coffee.’ or ‘Fund our staff’s teambuilding to Spain.’

Of course, you can also take this seriously and ask people to donate money for a real cause you or your staff care about.

How to Get Tipped Online: Make a Virtual Tip Jar

When you’re offering food delivery or pickup, it’s easy to get left behind on tips if people choose to pay the order in advance by credit card.

Luckily, we have a simple solution. The online ordering system from GloriaFood comes with a digital tip jar option that you can enable in seconds. All you need to do is go to your restaurant dashboard -> Setup -> Payments -> Tips.

tips for delivery orders

The option will show up after you enable online payments and only when the client chooses to pay online at checkout. You can select a default tip that customers will be able to edit.

Learn more about enabling online payments and setting up tipping options for pickup, delivery, and order ahead in the video below:

Once you enable digital tipping, your customers will see the option at checkout and be able to enter the desired amount or slide the bar to choose.

restaurant tip jar ideas: enable online tipping

Enable digital tipping for online orders Bring the classic tip jar to your online menu in seconds

Wrap up

Give customers the option to tip you whether you’re serving them in the restaurant or delivering food to their doorstep. Using creative restaurant tip jar ideas and intuitive digital tipping technology, you can boost your profits without too much effort.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.