Year End Holiday Tipping Guide

Holiday tipping is a traditional way of saying thank you to people who provide you with year round services. Do you know who to tip or what is the appropriate amount? Here is a guide to making sure you tip well and within your budget.

Give within your budget

Do not feel obligated to go beyond your personal budget. If your budget does not allow for cash tips, consider handmade gifts; and if you are not particularly good at crafts or baking, a few kind written words are a great way to express your thanks for a year of good service.

Give the traditional way

Tuck crisp new bills into a card with a handwritten note expressing your appreciation. Whenever possible, deliver it in person. If you cannot do it face-to-face, for instance with the early morning newspaper deliverer or the mid-day garbage collector, mail a check or gift card. Try not to wait until the final weeks of December — the recipients may appreciate the ability to spend the money on holiday gifts.

Whom to include on your list  

People in the service industry who make your life easier by giving exceptional service and personalized attention should be at the top of your list. They may include your nanny or caregiver, hairstylist, fitness instructor, housekeeper, dog walker, garbage collector and, if you live in a condominium or apartment, handyman or concierge. The cost of one session is a good benchmark for many on your list, such as a pet groomer, weekend babysitter or weekly cleaning person. For a nanny, a week’s pay is appropriate. For a complete list with gift and cash amount suggestions check the Emily Post Institute’s Tip Guide.

When a gift is more appropriate than cash

Check a company’s policy before you tip one of its employees, some employees are not allowed to accept cash. Mail carriers cannot receive cash or cash equivalents such as gift cards; they may accept gifts worth less than $20. Individually giving cash to a teacher may seem like a bribe. Consider joining up with other parents to give each teacher $100 to $300. Think of it more as a holiday gift than a tip. Nursing-home workers might not be permitted to take tips or gifts. If you want to tip a professional, such as your doctor, lawyer or accountant give home-baked goods, a bottle of wine or chocolates.

People to skip

Good news for your budget, there is no need to tip the owner of an establishment, salaried staff, full-service gas attendants, furniture or flower delivery people.

For a bit of fun, test your tipping knowledge with Kiplinger’s Holiday Tipping Quiz

Remember, Holiday tipping is about showing gratitude and sharing smiles.  Enjoy!