Creative Tip Jar Ideas to Boost Guest Tipping

How accidentally-ignorable are most tip jars? Guests are up at the register to order, they pay their tab, then rush out the door to get to work without as much as a glance to the lonely tip jar right under their noses.

This is a story as old as time. Nobody in the industry truly takes it personally. We have all been there but it certainly doesn’t make it any better when 25%+ of customers forget their tip. As we know, most places with tip jars are staffed by employees who are paid on the lower end of the spectrum, and the difference between leaving with a couple extra bucks in their pocket vs not can make or break their shift. Everyone in the industry cares about tipping and notices who tips and who doesn’t; it has been and probably always will be a hot-button issue. So, what is a good way of making that shy little tip jar blossom into an attention grabbing butterfly? Getting creative!

Creative tip jar ideas

Tip jars that are funny or polarizing (hopefully both, in a good way) are an awesome way to get diner’s attention and start tipping. Competing tip jars are great because they play off of peoples’ natural inclination of the need for their team to win. Which series is better -- Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? Which New York sports team is best? Who shot first – Han or Greedo? Which season is best? Pineapple on pizza – yay or nay?  Which fitness style is best – fitness or fitting this whole pizza in my face? You get the idea.

We guarantee most people have an immediate answer and would be willing to throw in some change or a buck to cast their vote. Even if they don’t, it’ll still grab their attention. When that happens, the chances of guests whipping out their cell phones to snag a pic and share it online increases. So it can double as a cheap marketing tactic, too.

Want to take it a step further?

Run a new tip jar competition each week. Give out a raffle ticket for each tip, pick one from the winning side at the end of the week, and whoever wins gets a free menu item (coffee, smoothie, or something else of a reasonable price). Incentivizing customers to tip is a surefire way to increase tips and make your staff happier than they have ever been.

GALLERY: Some other creative tip jar ideas