How Not To Stress Over Holiday Tipping

As we enter the last few days before Christmas, are you still puzzled about whom to tip and how much? It’s not unusual to leave this chore until the final minute since it is often perplexing.

Holiday tipping is the practice of giving an extra amount of money or a special gift to those who provide valuable services to you and make your life more pleasant throughout the year. They might include your newspaper carrier, hairdresser or barber, housekeeper and pet sitter. The list goes on and on. Where do you begin to figure it out?

Start with a list of those people to whom you would especially like to show your appreciation. After you have made you list, your next step is to figure the amount for each, and finally do the math to see how this all fits within your budget.

There are no rules set in stone for how much you should tip nor is there any requirement that you must, but these guidelines should help you navigate the practice of holiday tipping.

* Tip according to the quality and frequency of the service rendered.

* Consider your own budget in determining the amount.

* Present a monetary tip in a card or a small gift accompanied by a handwritten note.

* Give it personally whenever possible.

* Do it within the week of the holiday or shortly before.

* Offer it joyously, not begrudgingly.

Now that we’ve established the process, let’s consider who and how much. The following suggestions are offered in hopes of eliminating some of the confusion as well as the stress surrounding holiday tipping.

* Housekeeper – an amount equal to the cost of a visit

* Gardner – $20-$50

* USPS mail carrier – USPS has its own rules regarding tipping. Cash gifts are not allowed, but customers may offer holiday gifts such as baked goods, candy or fruit.

Just don’t leave them in your mailbox overnight.

* Newspaper carrier – daily $25; weekend $10. Your carrier usually provides a card with an address.

* Teachers, tutors, coaches and trainers for your children – small gift from your child. Another approach is for several families to go together and purchase a quality gift from all in the group. Cash gifts may be construed as “bribes “for good grades or high scores so go for a gift rather cash.

* Baby sitter – one night’s pay plus a small gift from your child

* Full-time nanny – one week’s or one month’s pay depending on length of employment

* Dog groomer – the cost of a session

* Dog walker or sitter – one day to one week’s pay depending on how often they are employed

* Nail technician– $15 – $20

* Massage therapist – $15- $20

* Hairdresser – the cost of a usual visit. If you have extra services provided during the holidays such as coloring or a perm, you need not match that costly service. Tip in accordance with the cost of a regular visit.

If you belong to a private club, unless a single amount is collected to be distributed to all, there are servers, receptionists and activities personnel to be considered. Good judgment and an attitude of gratitude should be your guide.

When we think of tipping, we usually think of cash. However, if this is a difficult time and you can’t afford to give cash to all these people, make or bake a holiday gift. In some cases a simple handwritten note of thanks is sufficient. When times are better, you can be more generous.

The most important thing is to let these people know how valuable their service and their relationship are to you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or purchase a lavish gift to make your point.