Source: Photo: mrktwain

Source: Photo: mrktwain

There are many things to spend money on during the holidays, from entertaining to gift buying to holiday tips. Many people realize that holiday tipping is an important ritual when you receive regular services throughout the year. However, you may have had to cut back on the amount of services you have received recently, and your budget may be tight enough that you are worried about your ability to tip. Forgoing the tip altogether, though, is not always the best plan. Here is what Kiplinger points out about holiday tipping:

End-of-the-year tipping is an important way to show your appreciation; ignoring the custom is not only bad manners, but it also sends the wrong message — that you’re dissatisfied with the service you’ve been getting throughout the year. “No matter what, you should make some gesture of appreciation,” says Jodi Smith, president of Mannersmith, an etiquette-consulting firm.

Carefully think of the people who give you regular — and good — service throughout the year. Hairstylists, caregivers for your children, cleaners, gardeners/caretakers and newspaper carriers are prime candidates for holiday tipping. If you have cut back on the amount of services you are receiving, you should explain why you have cut back (financial hardship), and make sure you let them know that you haven’t cut back because you are unhappy with the service, but that you in a bit of a money crunch. A holiday card, including a handwritten note of appreciation, is appropriate, as is a token gift.

Acceptable signs of appreciation don’t have to be cash, either. You want to keep leaving a customary tip, and then provide something extra for the holidays. This can be thoughtful, homemade items, or small, inexpensive gifts. If you are “crafty”, you can create something attractive and thoughtful for service providers. You can also make tasty baked goods, or put together your own gift baskets for a relatively small price. There is no reason to completely clean out your bank account when holiday tipping, but you should do something to show your appreciation for the service that others have rendered you throughout the year.

Tipping when you have a enough

When you have enough money to be generous with your holiday tipping, you should show your appreciation to regular service providers. If you are concerned about what is appropriate, here are some helpful hints as to what is considered the norm for different service providers:

  • Babysitters: Your regular babysitter (usually a neighborhood teen) should receive the equivalent of one evening’s pay.
  • Nanny: If you have a nanny, the norm is one week’s pay. Add a small gift from your child to this.
  • Cleaners and caretakers: Your regular house cleaner and/or gardener should get one week’s pay as well, as a gesture of appreciation. If your home is cared for by a team, you might consider getting a team gift of nice chocolates, or a gift basket instead.
  • Hairdresser: If you have someone who regularly takes care of your hair, you should give a tip of the cost of a normal visit. Make sure that this is on top of the regular tip you give for your regular visit.
  • Newspaper carrier: This depends on whether you tip throughout the year. If you do, a smaller tip of $10 to $15 is acceptable. If you do not, up it to $20 to $25.
  • Personal trainer: If you have a good relationship, and one that is on-going, with your personal trainer, and use his or her services regularly, consider a tip of around $50.
  • Child’s teacher: No money! A small (less than $20) from your child is appropriate. Another tactic is to get with all of the other parents in the class and chip in to get a gift certificate from everyone.
  • Mail carrier: Again, no money. Post Office workers can’t accept it. And they also can’t accept gifts of more than $20 in value. A handwritten note of appreciation, along with some sort of small gift (or homemade item or baked goods) is appropriate.
  • Servers: If you are a regular customer at a restaurant, you should consider tipping a little extra during the holidays. Even if you aren’t, your server might appreciate a small boost to the tip you leave at the end of a meal.

No matter your financial situation, showing appreciation for services rendered is an important part of interacting with society. And if you can’t afford to tip those who regularly provide you with services, perhaps you need to rethink whether you are in a position to be enjoying those services.

Do you give holiday tips? How much do you think is appropriate?



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.