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Is a little Christmas gift appropriate for our favorite server?

  • m

My husband and I go to our favorite restaurant once or twice a month and ask for the same server. I'll call her Jane. Once in a while (maybe once every 3 months) if Jane is off, she will seat us with another server (always the same one). I'll call him Steve. Jane very generous with us and always comps us our first drink. Often, she will send out a free dessert or pack a little bag of bread or chocolates for us to take home. Steve usually sends us a drink when he is our server. This is a fine dining restaurant and we always tip on the value of food served, not billed, and usually tip at least 30%. My question is this: Is it appropriate to show our appreciation by bringing Jane a bottle of wine or other token gift when we dine next week? What about Steve?

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  1. I would say that your favorite server would be thrilled with any gift you bring. I'm sure the gesture will be appreciated tremendously.

    1. A bottle of wine may not be the best gift. She may not drink, may not have anywhere appropriate to store it, and/or it may be visible by the management who might not like to see the staff receiving gifts from patrons - it could even be against some kind of policy.

      I would suggest something small and portable - if you don't wish to just give a cash present, what about a gift card? Say, to the local grocery store? Everyone buys groceries. This is something the server could easily put away without fear of it being stolen or disapproved of by management and something just about everyone could use.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rockandroller1

        I would think that far from being against policies, management would be pleased to see servers getting gifts from regular patrons. it's a testament to how happy they have made the customers.

        I realize that not everyone drinks, but in the restaurant business, the number of non-drinkers is pretty low. Restaurants prefer servers who are conversant in food and drink and often give out bottles of wine as incentives.

      2. I would give money (however much you think appropriate) tucked into an elegant card. More for Jane since you see her more often...less but still generous for Steve.

        Guessing someone's taste is tricky...

        1 Reply
        1. re: fauchon

          I think it's a lovely idea. I think a gift card to a generic department store (Walmart, Target?) in your area for an amount that you consider suitable would be quite welcome.

          Depending on your circumstances, I would get one for both Jane and Steve.

          You are very lucky to have a 'regular' place.

        2. jfood has a couple of dozen little bags of truffles in his car that he keeps to bring to all his buddies around this time of year.

          Who doesn't like chocolate?

          1. Cash is king. My bf and I do what we call "Christmas tipping" with our regular servers, delivery drivers etc. I'm sure Jane gets plenty of "token gifts". I'm also sure she'd love a crisp $50 bill.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Oh Robin

              I agree. You have no idea what people's personal proclivities or allergies are. Many people are trying to watch their weight (or have diabetes, or a conflicting medication) and a gift of chocolate might have to be re-gifted and be completely useless to the receiver. And there ARE people who don't like chocolate, I'm married to one of them. And just because servers are supposed to know about wines doesn't mean they drink. I worked with a lot of servers who don't drink but could make good recommendations for guests on alcoholic bevs, as well as vegetarian servers who could recommend tasty meat dishes. I mean, I don't have any children but I can help people find clothes at my job at a department store in the children's department.

              Unless you know the person, it's just a presumptuous gift to give anyone anything that's food or drink related IMO. This is why I suggested the gift card if the OP didn't want to give cash.

              And if the restaurant is a chain, management would definitely not be all smiles about a server receiving something like a bottle of wine or anything else like that. There are in fact company policies about such things.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                I agree, rockandroller1, that's why I also suggested a gift card. But cash is good, too, I guess.