These fall under the “nice to have” category.
These days, few waiters are called upon to light cigarettes and cigars. In the old days, a lighter was an indispensible tool that every waiter carried. Even today, it’s considered a mandatory tool if only to light a candle on a birthday or anniversary dessert. Most waiters simply buy a Bic or other disposable lighter, but a nice refillable lighter is still considered a stylish gift. I’ve always like the Colibri brand and they have a wide variety of nice lighters. We’ll start with a pricey lighter, the appropriately named “Tonino Lamborghini”. Here’s one that will remind you of a Miura from the ’60s, with its striking green color (and it’s $150 retail price):
Obviously, this is for those with deep pockets and champagne tastes.
Here’s the art deco/prairie style Aspire (for a more modest retail of $59):
For the sporty, outdoorsy type, here’s a rubberized yellow slicker colored “Jet 2”:
And, if you want to emphasize the “culinary” theme, here’s a flask-inspired model that’s priced right, the well-named “Flask (at $34.95):
Obviously, you can find cheaper lighters just about anywhere. Feel free to shop around. But I really like the Colibri brand. They are well-made and stylish. You can get single, double or even triple flamed models (the later great for the cigar smoker, but not necessary for the waiter). And you can find them at selected retail establishments at a discount.
Along the same line is the increasingly obsolete cigar accessory. They are obviously not obsolete for cigar smokers per se, but most waiters now work in smoke-free environments. If you know a waiter who works in an establishment like a private club or country club where smoking lounges are still found, you might consider something like this:
This is a well-made model, far better than the cheap plastic ones that you can pick up in cigar shops for $5. This one will set you back $24.95 retail.
Finally, we have the humble crumber. Most crumbers are aluminum metal affairs, but some are made of stainless steel (these hold up better). Some are painted, some are distributed with logos, some are bare metal. They vary in thickness. In many restaurants, especially those with tablecloths, they are a required item. They look something like this:
The thing about crumbers is that they are easily bent or lost and the pocket clips tend to fall off. They are pretty hard to find locally so waiters are always in need of extras. They usually cost between $1 and $3, although they are often given as liquor company promos with logos of famous wineries. This isn’t much more than a stocking stuffer type gift, and it should be given in quantity (5 is a good stock for a waiter to have available). Here’s a good source for them:
But if you want to go a bit further, you might offer them this:
As you can see, it’s a variation on the Bissel manual sweeper that every waiter is familiar with. It’s bulky but it’s priced at a reasonable $6.95. I’ve never used one, so I can’t vouch for how well it works, so gifter beware!
Here’s a more upscale and higher-priced version:
This will set you back $19.95 here:
And even more upscale at $36.33:
So, I hope that this gives you more ideas for a holiday gift for the waiter in your life.