Friendships, Lifestyle

A Handy Tipping Guide for the Holidays

The easy “how-to” for tipping during the holidays.

We all have service people that help us throughout the year, but sometimes it’s confusing on how much to tip or even whether you should tip at all during the holidays. I’ve been in the restaurant business for more than twenty years, and sometimes it’s a little confusing even for me! Tipping is easy enough in a restaurant – not so easy in other settings.

I have a simple guideline for who to tip during the holidays. It comes from my uncle who said, “At the end of the year, think of the people who have helped you. If you’ve been helped, it never hurts to tip.”

So, I think about the places where I’m a ‘regular’ – at least once a month, weekly, or semi-weekly. I also especially think of businesses that know me well, and where I’m always satisfied. For instance, the hairdresser, barber, or manicurist. Maybe the dog walker or the groomer.

As for how much should you tip, that depends on the price you typically pay for one visit. If a typical visit is $50, then your tip should be $50. If you’re only an occasional client, then the holiday tip can range from $10 to $25.

For the person who babysits for you, the tipping guide could be one day’s earnings. If you have a full-time nanny, then consider giving out a holiday gift or ‘bonus’ that’s equivalent of one or two weeks of salary – depending on how long they have worked for you.  Remember the person who comes to clean your home – the tip amount could be equal what they receive for a day’s wages.

I don’t forget individual cases like the mail carrier. Even if you live in a high rise and don’t know them at all – it’s important to remember them. You’re at their mercy when it comes to getting your mail that might not have your apartment number on it.  Federal law prohibits a USPS worker from receiving anything higher than $20, so make your tip anywhere from $5 to $20. I think this rule applies to other anonymous delivery people (consider newspaper and laundry).

Speaking of apartment and condo living – I also think of the staff who are there for me 24/7/365. How much to tip each person varies significantly depending on if you rely on that person daily or perhaps rarely ever see them. Gratuity can be anywhere from $50 to $200 per person depending on their job and how much you actually interact with them during the year.

Proper tipping etiquette says that when you tip with cash, give it directly to the person whom it is intended. However, giving cash is not always the right thing to do for everyone.  If you are tipping professionals like physicians or teachers and day-care providers, then a thoughtful gift or gift certificate is the appropriate tip for their service.

Unless you want to go completely anonymous, think of putting the tip (cash or gift card) in a personal card that’s addressed to the recipient. I use a seasonal greeting card, but some folks like to use a nice thank you card. The card accomplishes two things: first it puts a face to the tip; and second, it lets the person know why they’re appreciated.

Don’t forget –tipping is a ‘thank you’ for everything people have done for you during the entire year. It’s an indispensable part of what sophisticated living is all about.



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