Updated: 12/6/2011 1:01 PM ET|
Holiday tipping: When it's OK to skip
If your budget is tight again this year, cutting back on tipping is OK, but make sure you still express your appreciation in some way to the folks who make your life easier.
It's customary to thank service providers with holiday tips. But these aren't exactly customary times.
Giving less or not giving at all shouldn't be a source of guilt if you're having trouble making ends meet, says etiquette author Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute.
"If you're in real financial straits -- you've lost your job or whatever -- you may not be able to tip with a monetary expression of thanks," says Post, the author of "Essential Manners for Men" and four other etiquette books. "Nobody expects you to go into debt."
(A holiday tip, if you don't know, is a special voluntary payment made in December to people who have provided you good service. It's separate from, and in some cases in addition to, the tipping you're expected to do throughout the year. In other words, you don't get to stiff the waiter or the cabdriver because it's the holidays. If you can't afford to tip when it's expected, then you shouldn't use the service. Eat at home or take the bus.)
While the latest Consumer Reports holiday tipping poll finds that our largesse has stabilized after going south along with the economy three years ago, no more than 35% of us pony up for a monetary thank-you to our gardener, newspaper carrier or pet-care provider.
If you want to give but are too strapped to afford it, Post recommends one of the following:
A holiday card with a handwritten note. A warm thanks is appropriate, and you can touch on why your tip is smaller or nonexistent. "You don't want them to think the lack of a tip is a reflection on their service," Post says. "You can say: 'Thank you so much for all you've done. It's been a terribly difficult year, and we're looking forward to resuming our holiday tips when things improve.'"
Handmade gifts or treats. A plate full of holiday cookies or candy is a low-cost way to express your appreciation. "One evening of baking can produce a dozen or a dozen and a half cookies for each (recipient)," Post says.
Keys to tipping
If you can give, just not as much, here are some things to keep in mind as you triage your holiday tipping list:
Prioritize your most important service providers. If someone's work makes your life dramatically better, that person should be at the top of your holiday tipping list. The trusted housecleaner, the hairdresser who fits you in at the last minute and the baby sitter who always does a great job tending your kids should get more of your holiday tipping resources than service providers you use infrequently.
Don't skimp on your employees. If you have household workers, such as a nanny, a housekeeper or a caretaker for an elderly relative, Post cautions against forgoing holiday bonuses if at all possible. The holiday bonus is often considered part of the employee's compensation, Post notes. It all depends on your past practices, what's customary in your area and what you promised when you hired the person, of course, but withholding or shortchanging the bonus could be considered a cut in pay and you could wind up losing a valued worker because of it.
Tip strategically. If you live in a building with a doorman, superintendent or both, failing to tip can lead -- unfortunately -- to bad service. The higher the customary tip, the less likely a plate of cookies will cut it. Talk to your neighbors to see what the going rate is and try to come close to that figure to make sure your packages still get delivered and your friends can get into the building.
It's OK to consider need. The lower-paid the worker, the more holiday tips are likely to be appreciated -- and the bigger impact your gift can have. Your tip to a manicurist or gardener may be a bigger deal than the same-sized token to a package-delivery person.
If you tip generously all year, you can skimp a bit. A smaller tip or a modest gift at the holidays is fine.
A note should accompany any tip. Your message doesn't have to be elaborate, but should include a couple of sentences thanking the person for his or her good work and wishing a happy holiday.
Below are rough guidelines provided by the Emily Post Institute that you can adapt to your budget and local custom:
|Holiday tipping suggestions|
|Baby sitter||One evening's pay, plus a gift from your child|
|Barber||Cost of one haircut|
|Beauty salon staff||Cost of one salon visit|
|Day care provider||A gift from you, or $25 to $70, plus a gift from your child|
|Dog walker||Up to one week's pay or a gift|
|Doorman||$15 to $80 or a gift ($15 each for multiple doormen)|
|Garage attendants||$10 to $30 or a small gift|
|Gardeners||$20 to $50 each|
|Handyman||$15 to $40|
|Housekeeper||Up to one week's pay and/or a small gift|
|Live-in help||One week to one month's pay, plus a gift from you|
|Mail carrier||Gift worth less than $20; no cash, check or gift cards|
|Massage therapist||Up to the cost of one session or a gift|
|Nanny or au pair||One week's pay, plus a gift from your child|
|Newspaper deliverer||$10 to $30 or a small gift|
|Package deliverer||Small gift in the $20 range|
|Personal trainer||Up to the cost of one session or a gift|
|Personal caregiver||One week to one month's salary or a gift|
|Pet groomer||Up to the cost of one session or a gift|
|Pool cleaner||The cost of one cleaning, to be split among the crew|
|Superintendent||$20 to $80 or a gift|
|Teachers||A small gift or note from you, plus a small gift from your child|
|Trash collectors||$10 to $30 each|
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I'm a hair stylist and a salon owner. As it's always nice to receive a tip of any kind, I must say the best tip of all is for the client to be happy with my service, possibly tell others about me and return to my salon. My favorite "tip" is for the client to call me on the phone in the following days to tell me how much they love their hair! I would never want any client worrying about tipping if they don't have it. Sometimes a simple Thank you, I love it is better.
Everyone should tip everytime they get good service - from waiters to hairdressers to massage therapists. But this is about HOLIDAY TIP - i.e. EXTRA money, in addition to the regular tips. And on the basis, I say most of this list is absolutely ridiculous .
I tip 25% when I get good service at a restaurant, and I tip my hairdresser 20% (who charges $50 per cut) everytime I get a cut, but I WILL NOT give any of those people extra tips during the holidays!! I think a holiday tip may be due if you pay for the person's income and they do not usually get a tip (i.e. a live-in housekeeper or nanny), but NOT to someone that provides services to the general public. I certainly don't get a reward for doing what I am supposed to do at my job. If anyone has gone above and beyond providing services for you in the past and you feel like giving something, that's great. A nice teacher probably deserves a token of appreciation. But cookies are fine for that as well - it should be about the GESTURE, PEOPLE! Enough of this entitled mentality!
I am 73 years old and retired. Not wealthy not poor. I tip our service people every Christmas..Mail Man --- Paper delivery ---Trash man ----and lawn service. $20.00 each and I do that because they provide a service to us that we consider is helpful to our lives.
Regarding tipping waitress...Are some of you not aware that waitresses in places like Denny's, Sonic Drive inn and many others, are only paid $2.40 Per Hour and their tips are the backbone of their income so to speak. For example - I go to Denny's on a regular basis in the morning for coffee and sometimes I'll eat something. Sit at the counter. Coffee is $2.40 with all the refills. Now if I tipped 20% that would be about a 50 cent tip which would be ridiculous. I leave $6 for my coffee and tip and feel very good about that.
This gripes my axx every year. I'm told I should tip my hair-dresser. Sorry, but my hair dresser already makes more than double what I make per hour. Any my garbage collectors? On top of their generous hourly pay, they get plenty of government benefits I don't get, including a retirement fund, and much better health insurance coverage than I can get. And I'm supposed to be tipping them? I serve and wait on patients in a private doctors office every day. Are the patients supposed to be tipping me?
Trash collectors make much more than the median income, they should be tipping not the other way around.
Question: Do you know the people on the list as family friends? With the one exception of the baby sitter, there is not one person on this list that deserves a "Holiday Tip"
Not the teachers, superintendent, mail carrier or any of the other professions on the list. This is the problem with America, everyone thinks they deserve something extra for doing their jobs.
I am so sick and tired of people who complain about their wages and then pressure customers or employers into feeling a tip is required to insure quality service! Tips are out of control and no one should ever EXPECT them! I've had several jobs on this list and NEVER accepted tips! Why? Because I take pride in myself and my work. My only goal is to satisfy the customer (or my employer) and never expect anything extra. Employers should set fair wages and if you are not happy with them....GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! Don't expect the customer to compensate your "crumby" salary. I would much rather pay higher prices just so tips could be done away with, then there would be no guessing, no questions, just service!
I stopped eating out with my family at restaurants that forced tipping based on amount of the bill. I'm sorry but a waitress does NOT work harder, or deserve more, just because they carry a $30 dollar plate of food as opposed to a $10 plate of food! Is a more expensive meal harder to carry? Does it put more strain on their poor little arms? I once went out with my family to a buffet....a BUFFET....where the waitress did NO MORE than see us to our seats and bring us our drinks. The bill was about $100 dollars for six people and we were there less than an hour. The waitress had the nerve to ASK us if we would be leaving a 20% tip! Just asking made me mad so I proceeded to ask her, "What exactly did you do to deserve $20 dollars, sit us down and bring a few glasses of tea?".....she got $5 and should be glad for that.
I have 3 boys and the barber can give them all a haircut in just over an hour at 12 dollars each....$36 dollars an hour (more than I make) and he deserves a tip too?!?! What happened to "Thank You" and repeat business being good enough?
I see "tip jars" popping up everywhere now.....even on the counter at our local Subway sandwich shop! Give me a break! I would actually go broke if I tipped everyone wanting a tip! Everyone has their hand out and it's simply pathetic.
Come on all you salon workers and other related professionals, post on here and tell us how you feel. Obviously, receiving tips is nice. You don't need to tell the general public that. We get it. What I don't understand is why you all think that you deserve great tips. Your tip should reflect your service. I always start my tipping at 15% before tax. If the service is exceptional I will raise it to as high as 20% before tax. If the service is poor, I will reduce it to as low as 10% before tax. Isn't that the way things used to be? And if you steal money from me, no matter how negligible it may be, I will not tip you at all. For instance, if my total is $9.48, I hand you a $10 bill, and you return to me with two quarters, I will not tip you, and may be inclined to leave you a note on a receipt letting you know. It's the principle of the issue. You cannot assume what I am going to tip you, and technically that is stealing. It's wrong.
I have worked in food service before, and I understand the importance of tips. However, as I see it, you must actually work for tip. And comments like "We don't get nearly the cost of your haircut back," seem completely ludicrous to me. This is America. If you don't like working in a franchise, go start your own business and charge whatever you want. The free market will decide how much you make, and the quality of your service will help to spread the word.
I read a comment below that said something like, "If you tip me poorly, the next time you come in I will not give you as good of a haircut as previously." Are you kidding me? You are a business, trying to get customers. If you give me a crappy haircut I am going to go somehwere else the next time. You should be ashamed of yourself. That kind of attitude makes me sick.
If you can't afford it, don't do it. The collective debt of Americans (not America) is already great enough. Don't add to it by being "in the holiday spirit" and tipping when you can't afford to. However, if you can afford to do it and believe that a tip is deserved, give a tip. Use your own discretion as to what you should tip. After all, it's your money, and no one says you have to give it away.
I tip waiters and waitresses (very well I might add) I tip the dog groomer when the dog is groomed, I tip the person who does my hair, I tip the people who wipe my car down at the car wash.
I do not tip the mailman, the garbage man or any one else who gets a good salary. This is their job and they are not starving. I pay lots of money in property taxes so I'm already taking care of the garbage man.
Tipping has gotten out of control. I tip who I believe should get a tip not just any old person who thinks they deserve tips
Can't help it if you didn't pick a career that requires you to accommodate me and relies on tipping instead of your cheap employer paying you more.
I can't tell you how many lunches I've missed at the office, or how many times I've come in early or stayed late to accommodate my boss, but I don't get tipped.
I am amazed at some of these comments. I live in a rural area-so some of this does not apply to me. But my mail carrier, it is her job to leave the mail every day, that's what she does for a living, so I am not going to tip her for doing her job-the superintendent of our school system....get real, he makes more than 4 people and it has been proved they are going around the system to make more, and half the others, the garbage man, again that is his weekly job-just like I go to work every single day of my life and I don't get tipped on that day for showing up. Now, teachers - they give of themselves to my children every day of the year for very little pay, here in rural Indiana, so yes, I give them a gift-but it is to show my appreciation for the little things they have done for my children. All the others, no I'm sorry-it is your line of work and in today's economy anyone who expects it is out of line.
I feel sorry for restaurant and bar workers but the restaurants/bars needs to step up and pay their employees and stop expecting handouts. Yes I worked in restaurant industries when I was young and the owners all lived in very nice big houses and drove very nice cars.
This is the most ridiculous article I think I have ever read. Ok, maybe it is an opinion article but in that case she has the worst opinion of tipping I have ever read. First and foremost, waiters and waitresses, and in many cases bartenders do not make a living wage without their tips. The "minimum wage" for waiters and waitresses is far below what the actual state minimum wage is. If you are going to tip anyone, tip your waiters, waitresses, and bartenders. If you are a generous person, then you should tip the other people on this list.
Federal and state minimum wages are certainly not enough to support a family, however the waiters, waitresses, and bartenders that make even less than that rely much more on your tips than those that are lucky enough to make minimum wage.
I am no longer a waitress, but I used to be, and I made $3.19/hour ... and then whatever tips I got.
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