5 on Your Side

5 on Your Side: Holiday tipping

Posted December 1, 2010 4:43 p.m. EST
Updated October 25, 2018 7:06 p.m. EDT

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!

About this Blog:

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.