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This Is the #1 Worst Thing Restaurant Customers Do Around the Holidays, According to Servers

The (mean) spirit of the season.
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It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? So why are so many restaurant diners apparently on their absolute worst behavior around the holidays? We're not 100% sure why, but we are quite sure that many people are absolutely horrible to their servers at this time of year. We know because we put out an original Eat This Not That! survey asking servers what the worst thing customers do around the holidays, and because we scoured the web far and wide for other seasonal server horror stories.

Take these as cautionary tales if you work in the restaurant business. And for goodness' sake, take these as life lessons on what not to do if you ever eat out in restaurants. That goes for all year round, too, not just the winter holidays. But especially now, let's spread cheer, not these train wrecks of human behavior.

 8 Worst Customer Behaviors That Make Restaurant Servers Roll Their Eyes

Over imbibing

drunk woman in a festive cap holding champagne in hands

The holidays are a time of excess in many ways, with everyone decorating the home and the office, spending lavishly on gifts, eating more than their fair of treats, and, it seems, drinking way too much booze. One ETNT poll respondent lamented literally having to push drunk diners out the door, enduring their ire all the time.

Complaining about prices

holding menu

Both servers and many people who work in retail have noticed an annoying trend among many customers this year: complaining about increased prices. As one ETNT poll respondent said in part: "People are so mad about inflation. They complain and seem to think we have control over the price, which we don't. I don't let it bring my holiday spirit down, I just feel sad for them."

Miserly tipping

money tip

Being a mature, decent human being, you'd probably expect that, if anything, tips would go up during the holidays, with customers feeling generous in the spirit of the season. In fact, in the experience of many servers, it's the opposite case, though. Many waiters and waitresses expressed an opinion similar to a Reddit user who said: "Honestly I felt customers were stingier around the holidays." Some assumed it was because of how much money people were also spending on gifts, others on the fact that many restaurants are so busy during the season, but whatever the reason, the results are often smaller tips.

Constant complaining

unhappy customer

Even during the holidays, some people just can't seem to get into the spirit and complain about every aspect of their meal. Respondents to an ETNT poll aimed at servers shared anecdotes about "the customer that is so demanding that you can never please them they gripe about everything" and asking to change things that can't be changed, like "pepper sauce without pepper or slow cooked BBQ ribs without BBQ sauce."

Coming in at closing time

closed restaurant

A surprising number of servers relayed stories about people coming in shortly before the kitchen was slated to close and expecting a full-service dining experience even during the holiday season—and yes, that included on actual holidays, where the issue is often compounded when customers don't realize the restaurant was to be closing early.

Shouting and threats

snapping at server

Yes, many servers endure literal shouting during the holidays. One Redditor recalled being yelled at for not bringing garlic bread fast enough. An ETNT poll respondent relayed an incident with a thrown steak. And the ugly stories continued aplenty.

Camping out


All most servers want to do during the holidays is get through their shifts and get home, they being people who enjoy spending time with friends or family or just relaxing at home. But many servers lambasted holiday-time customers who simply while away time at their tables long after their meals are done and often even after bills are paid.

One frustrated server had the time to post on Reddit during his shift as customers were loitering about for so long. He said: "Still here at work. My night was a giant pile of garbage. Still have 2 tables of dill weeds that will never leave. Still have all the side work to do. Might key their cars while I wait though. TIS THE SEASON!"

 Here's How Much You Should Really Tip At Restaurants Right Now, According to Experts

Just plain rudeness

upset restaurant server

When one server took to Reddit to say in a general post "If you feel the need to be rude to your servers during the holidays season, then stay at home and yell at your microwave." The outpouring of support and lament that came from other servers was amazing. A small selection of the comments included these remarks: "Some of the worst people come out for the holidays," "It's like something just triggers the grinch/scrooge in them," and "I'm halfway through my shift right now (on break) I really wish it was legal to smack people upside the head just once a day. Just. F*****g. Once."

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven
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