With Thanksgiving behind everyone and Christmas looming, it’s time to start thinking about giving thanks to the many people in our lives through holiday tipping. It’s a topic that confuses many: how much to give and to whom?
Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, offers these tips:
Give what you can. Tips are appreciated, but not mandatory. If your budget is limited, opt for a small gift and a thank you note. If you’re unsure of who can receive tips, call the company and ask if there are specific guidelines. Someone in management will also be able to tell you if a cash tip or gift is more appropriate and what amount is customary.
Make a plan. Before you make a run to the bank, make a list of those people who have assisted you regularly. Once you know whom you’d like to thank, make a realistic budget of what you can afford to give. If you live in a major metropolitan area, the expected tipping range is slightly higher. Increase the tip for individuals with whom you have a friendship or those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Hand deliver your tip. When possible, deliver your gift in person accompanied by a handwritten card. Freshly printed, crisp bills are ideal. Gifts should be delivered on or before Dec. 25, but may be given whenever you have contact with the person during the holiday season.
Keep it simple. When you’re on a budget, consider tipping only three to five people whom you or your family members see regularly. An example may be your manicurist, hairdresser, babysitter, teacher and housekeeper.
Cash is king. When you’re not sure what to give, give cash. Money is always appreciated by most and probably won’t be returned or regifted.
Customize whenever possible. If you choose not to give money, give something the person will use and appreciate. For example, if the person loves coffee, give a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. If you know the person loves books, give a bookstore gift card.
And as for how much to give:
- Manicurist: $25 to $50 or a gift
- Hair stylist: $50 to $100 or a gift
- Barber: up to the cost of one haircut or a gift
- Personal trainer: up to the cost of one session or a gift
- Housekeeper: up to the cost of one visit
- Teacher: A gift card or gift certificate for up to $25, or pitch in with some of the other parents and buy a more expensive gift certificate
- Day care provider: $20 – $70 each, plus a small gift from your child
- Mail carrier: small gift or gift card up to $20
- Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30