'Tis the season to be jolly and make others happy with little tips and remembrances for those who do such personal services as barbers, hairdressers, child-care workers and waiters.
To begin with, restaurant officials suggest slipping a $10 or $20 bill to a favorite bartender or waiter who always renders good service, although they do not want to offend customers who don't follow such practices.Holiday travelers also may want to leave a slightly heavier tip to restaurant workers working Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, said Martin Hehman, assistant manager at the Vista International Hotel in Pittsburgh.
"If you're dining Christmas Eve and Day, you should on those days give a 20 percent tip," Hehman said. "Otherwise, 15 percent is all right. It's generally accepted that waiters and waitresses get a little more those days."
Barbers, hairdressers and manicurists should not necessarily be tipped, said Richard Levac, director of membership services for the National Cosmetology Association in St. Louis.
"If you've gone to same beauty salon year after year, and you want to give a gift of money, a plate of fudge or something, that's fine," he said. "A bottle of wine, homemade cookies or money with card is fine.
"The IRS is really clamping down on the tipping business. They're not going to bother you if you bring in a plate of fudge. That's a way to say, `I thank you for what you've done for me for the past year.' It's more of an appreciation," Levac said.
Parents who want to thank child-care workers can give them a lunch, a restaurant gift certificate or a gift of an umbrella, tote bag, scarf or daybook, said Polly Lipkind, director of the child-care program at the non-profit Ursuline Center in Pittsburgh.
"Basically, cash is not recommended," Lipkind said. "That's real hard to deal with. The amount gets to be an issue."
Child-care workers "do talk to each other" about how much they get, she said.
"And one will say, `This mother gave me $5 this year, but $10 last year,' " she said.