Holiday Tipping Guide 2008

Despite the tough economy many people still rely on proceeds from holiday tipping for a large portion of their seasonal income. But tipping is not reserved for only traditional service professions such as restaurant servers.  Around the holidays there are many other tipping opportunities for people who provide a service to you throughout the year.

Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Tip

Quality of the service provided.  Obviously, if you are unhappy with the service you are receiving you should not only not leave a generous tip, but should probably discuss the level of service with the provider.  When determining how much of a tip to leave let the service level guide you.  Does the individual go above and beyond, or just enough to get the job done?

Tip within your budget.  Sure, it would be nice to add to your paperboy’s tuition fund around the holidays, but a large tip might not be in your household’s budget.  Do not feel pressured to live up to a tipping standard (like the ones offered below) if your budget does not allow it.

Tip frequency throughout the year.  Do you typically tip for this service during each transaction?  When I venture out to get a haircut I typically leave a few dollars extra as a tip throughout the year, so at the end of the year I don’t leave a particularly large Christmas tip.  However, I do not tip our newspaper delivery person throughout the year, so I’ll include a little extra with the December bill as a thanks for keeping the paper out of the yard and on the pavement.

How Much Should You Tip This Holiday Season?

Like I mentioned above, a general rule of thumb should be to allow the level of service guide you.  Still, it is good to have a baseline, or starting point, when determining how much to tip.  Hopefully the following amounts will help get you started.

  • Newspaper delivery person: $20, or less if you are like me and only receive the weekend editions.
  • Baby sitter: Equivalent of one evening’s pay (in addition, a small gift from the child is a nice touch).
  • Hairstylist:  If you tip throughout the year, double your normal tip amount.
  • Mail carrier:  Gift up to $20, but not cash.  Personally, we like to bake a few goodies for both the mail carrier and the policeman that directs traffic after school.
  • Housekeeper:  Consider a tip equal to the cost of one service.
  • Personal trainer: If you see your trainer regularly (as in more than once a week), $30 to $40 ought to be sufficient.
  • Gardener: Equivalent of one week’s pay.  This should be reserved for lawn care providers or gardeners that provide a regular, weekly service.  Give less for seasonal lawn care providers.
  • Day care staff: A tip of $25 to $50 to each care provider plus a small gift from your child.

This is also a good time for a reminder that tips are appreciated by those in service industries all year.  One of my family members used to deliver pizza while in school and said you would be appalled by the amounts of some tips he received – in the $1 or $2 range, if any at all.  Think about it, food delivery drivers brave the elements and navigate traffic to deliver your meals.  Why do they receive less than the standard 10%-20% of the total bill that servers in restaurants receive?  Never quite figured that one out.

We are going through rough economic times, and tip income seems to be down for those in jobs that typically rely on tips for income.  People are eating out less, and canceling unnecessary services, minimizing the opportunities for those that work for tips to earn their money.  If you can afford to be a little extra generous, now is a great time heading into the holiday season.

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