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With the holidays upon us, and 2016 coming to a close, end-of-year “thank you” tipping can be a tricky and confusing topic. What is the etiquette for which service providers should get a holiday tip and how much?

The purpose of holiday tipping is to reward good service and to say thank you. Below are 10 general etiquette guidelines on holiday tipping that will help ensure your tipping is appropriate and appreciated.

  1. Tips may vary by region of the country and locally. For example, tipping  may be higher in larger cities.
  2. Consider your budget. Don’t go beyond what you can comfortably do.
  3. Consider the quality and frequency of the service.
  4. Consider  how long you’ve used this service provider, and how close your relationship is with the service provider.
  5. For services that you normally tip throughout the year, such as hair dresser, barber, massage therapist, dog groomer or dog walker, house cleaning service, etc., you may  give a small extra tip (or opt for a small gift or gift card.)
  6. For services in which you don’t normally tip throughout the year, such as newspaper delivery or trash hauler, consider a holiday thank-you tip of $10-25. In my area, that usually means newspapers are consistently thrown carefully and the emptied trash cans are placed near the garage instead of left on the curb. In addition to the tip envelope, one of my neighbors even includes a plate of holiday cookies for the trash haulers to enjoy along their route!
  7. Mail carriers may receive small gifts, but are not allowed to accept cash, checks, gift cards or any type of currency.
  8. For a regular babysitter: a small gift or cash equivalent to an evening’s pay. For a nanny: minimum of one week’s pay (or more) and a gift from your children.
  9. Daycare provider or nursing home employees: consider food items or flowers that can be shared and enjoyed by all. Or you may opt to give your child’s specific daycare teachers a cash gift of $25-50 or gift card. Nursing home guidelines usually do not allow for cash gifts to employees, but small individual gifts to specific care givers are usually acceptable.
  10. Be sure to tuck money gifts and gift cards into a holiday greeting card or thank you note in which you write several personal lines (2-4 lines is enough) of heart-felt appreciation for the services provider.

Your generosity and thoughtfulness is appreciated by hard-working service providers at the holidays. These tipping guidelines will help accommodate everyone on your list without draining your bank account.