5 on Your Side

5 on Your Side: Holiday tipping

Posted December 1, 2010
Updated December 2, 2010

Tis the season for tipping! But figuring out WHO to tip and how much to give can often be a bit of a challenge! Some factors to consider when deciding how much: how long you’ve used the service, your relationship with the provider, as well as the quality and frequency of the service you receive.

But many of us also like to consider what everyone else does-- to make sure we’re in line with the masses! Last season, Consumer Reports surveyed more than 1,800 people to find out what they think and do. Here's what they said – and for comparison, I’ve also included what mistress of American manners Emily Post says.

Those most likely to be tipped and the average amounts:

  • Housekeepers $50 (Emily Post says one week's pay)
  • Child Care Providers $40 (Post says $25- $70 gift for each staff member)
  • Hairdressers $20 (Post says up to cost of one salon visit)
  • Teachers $20 (Usually a gift-- because most teachers cannot accept cash.)

And according to Post, a regular babysitter should get one night’s pay. A personal trainer, massage therapist, and dog groomer should receive up to the cost of one session. The newspaper delivery person: $10 - $30. As for the mail carrier, they’re only allowed to accept small gifts that have no more than a $20 value: i.e. snacks, a beverage, travel mug or small tin of cookies. Cash, checks and gift cards are NOT allowed!

And back to TEACHERS who play such a HUGE role in molding of our children – a note from your CHILD can be a nice added touch! As for what NOT to give, many of the teachers I know say while thoughtful, they really don’t need another tree ornament, desk knick-knack or coffee mug that’s decorated with a picture of an apple or school bus! You know what I’m talking about!

And by the way, don’t just slap that tip cash in an envelope and hand it over. We really should include at least a short handwritten note that lets the provider know how much we appreciate them. That’s what this is all about, so never feel obligated to tip an amount you can't afford! Tips should not bust your holiday budget!


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  • derekwaite Dec 4, 2010

    I think that this article is missing something. Restaurant employees (servers) rely solely on their tips. I am a server at a local restaurant, and do not receive paychecks, as they are usually 0.00 dollars because of taxes. (we make 2.13 an hour). I find it discerning that my tip percentage during the holiday season actually decreases. I assume this is because people feel that they have spent too much money on other things during the holiday season. Keep in mind that this train of thought will literally starve a server, so before you go out to the establishment that is out of your price range, keep in mind that the industry standard gratuity for servers is 18%. 20% is considered a good tip. If you get good service, give 20 percent! The holidays are about helping and taking care of each other, not that 50 inch plasma.

  • play4god Dec 2, 2010

    What about our waste management drivers? Should we tip them? I have given $20 in a card before.

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In addition to the stories you see on TV, Monica is always looking for ways to help consumers find deals and avoid fraud. She'll blog about what you need to know here.