The holidays are upon us and so is the guilt. Tipping expectations change this time of year. Luckily there are online guidelines galore that explain who needs extra tips and just how much they expect.
A quick stop by Emily Post clarifies that "holiday tipping is really just holiday thanking." And the people you thank are those who provide you "with year-round services."
But this is a recovering economy after all, and some accommodation must be made. Emily Post understands this and the first rule is "don't feel obligated to go beyond your personal budget."
If you have nothing, Emily Post doesn't let you off the hook. You should "consider homemade gifts." And if you are not crafty, "remember that words are always a great way to express your thanks for a year of good service."
Consumer Reports, Gifts.com, The New York Times and Kiplinger had lists of who to tip and how much. For some of the categories, Consumer Reports even added statistics on the percentage of people who would tip with cash, check or gift card.
$35 (Or an amount equal to one cleaning) Consumer Reports found 53 percent would tip.
$20 to $100 (Check with school policy first. A small gift from child.) Consumer Reports found 16 percent would tip. Forty-five percent gave a gift.
$20 to $50 Consumer Reports found 40 percent would tip.
$10 to $30 Consumer Reports found 36 percent would tip.
$15 Consumer Reports found 34 percent would tip.
$10 Consumer Reports found 33 percent would tip.
Pet Care Provider
$20 (Or about the value of three visits.) Consumer Reports found 21 percent would tip.
$25 Consumer Reports found 17 percent would tip.
$20 value (Giving cash or gift cards breaks federal regulations. Instead give snacks or perishable gifts or something that has little value like a mug or a handwarmer. Or maybe a nice letter to the carrier's supervisor.)
$10 to $30 (If the company allows it) Consumer Reports found 9 percent would tip.
$20 to $100
(One or two nights' pay)
Day Care Staff
$20 to $70 for each staff member plus a gift from the child.
Coach, Activity Instructor
$50 (Or cost of a session.)
Nursing Home Worker
Personal gift such as fudge or cookies. (Check facility tipping policies.)
Although it is cruel, writers are not allowed to accept tips. News tips, perhaps.
Kiplinger recommends giving the tips early in case the recipient needs them for holiday buying. "The optimum time for end-of-year tipping is the week before Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter."
Kiplinger also says to avoid using PayPal or other electronic payments. Instead hand them face-to-face if possible.
Gifts.com is blunter: "Give them cash! Don't worry about the wrapping paper and pretty bows. For these people you can show your appreciation with cold hard cash."
But if you don't have the money, you don't have the money.
Consumer Reports, however quotes Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert who owns The Protocol School of Texas. She says even if you don't have money for tip, write a note. "It's about what is authentic and genuine."
Emily Post also said that any gift or tip should be accompanied with a short handwritten note — maybe two or three sentences. But if you don't tip, don't worry about bad service. Except for cleaning people, Consumer Reports found that the majority of people tip zip for the holidays.
Whatever you tip and whomever you tip, Emily Post says to keep in mind that the "holiday spirit should always be your guide."
Just remember to leave the holiday spirit a tip. About $10 should do the trick.
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