Another holiday tipping season is upon us. People are comparing notes about appropriate tipping guidelines. How should we reward people who have provided high quality services to us throughout the year?
The grim realities of our sluggish economy, coupled with the fact that so many people are struggling to make ends meet, loom larger during the holiday season. Nevertheless, there is no need to feel stressed. It is possible to navigate this process and not bust your holiday budget.
First of all, remember that holiday tipping is a gesture. It is not just about the money. If I could wave a magic Yuletide wand and ensure my wife’s hairstylist had the happiest of holidays, I am sure she would prefer that to any check or gift card we could hand out. But barring that, our holiday tip is a way to show appreciation to individuals like her who provide services for my wife and my loved ones.
When setting your tipping guidelines, think about everyone who has provided services for you and your level of interaction with them. Avoid framing your decision to give a holiday tip solely because you feel it is expected of you.
Ironically, we often skip over the very people who should get a holiday tip simply because they do not put themselves forward. Here are some scenarios to help you work through the ins and outs of tipping etiquette, circa 2010:
If your regular hairdresser gets a great tip every time you visit them, you will not violate tipping etiquette if you don’t give them an additional holiday tip unless they are re-arranging their schedule to fit you in to get the special hairstyling that you absolutely must have before your big holiday party.
Suggested holiday tip for that stunning holiday hairdo: 50% over the standard amount that you ordinarily would tip for a hair appointment.
If your dog walker or pet sitter did a great job all year, and also showed up at your house during the biggest snowstorm on record and brought your pet their favorite treats when your grocery store was snowed in, now is the time to show that you value their going the extra mile.
Suggested holiday tip for loyal dog walker: Equivalent of what you would pay for 3 visits, plus a new pair of mittens to replace the ones that your dog chewed up.
Your child’s tutor or school teacher can make excellent use of a gift card to your local book, office supply or arts and crafts store. Rather than presenting them with cash, by giving them something that enhances their ability to do the work they love it is a win/win for everyone.
Suggested holiday tip for fantastic teacher: One or two $25 gift cards.
If you have decided to outsource housekeeping to free up more room in your schedule, be sure to acknowledge those who keep your home clean.
Suggested tip: $65-$70 for the average house, or the equivalent of what you’d pay for a week/biweekly cleaning.
Talk about a thankless job. Up seven days a week in the cold, dark wee-hours of the morning to get a fresh copy of the newspaper to your driveway.
Suggested tip: $20 or so. Come on, you probably leave tips of half that for one meal out at a nice restaurant, and those servers only brought food and drink to your table from a warm, dry kitchen at 6:30 in the evening.
In sum, if you can afford to be generous, this is the time of year where your generosity can have a big impact. If you are financially strapped, that fact of your being a good customer is, in itself, a boon in these difficult times.
In this situation, consider sending someone who has provided services to you a holiday card thoughtfully acknowledging their service. You also can add that you intend to continue being a loyal customer in the future.