Holiday Tipping 101

Not sure who gets some extra cheer this December? Read our guide to hoilday tipping 101!
Publish date:
Updated on

Image Credit: Erika Raxworthy

The hairdresser, postman, butcher... it seems everyone we know could use a bit of holiday cheer after a year of good, hard work. Yet with a sea of "standards" and mixed messages, what do we make of the proper holiday tipping rate? We recently spoke with internationally-recognized etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore who offered these tips (and plenty of grace!) for your tipping strategy this year:

  1. Give what you can. Tips are appreciated, but not mandatory. If your budget is limited, opt for a small gift and a thank you note. If you're unsure of who can receive tips, call the company and ask if there are specific guidelines. Someone in management will also be able to tell you if a cash tip or gift is more appropriate and what amount is customary.

  2. Make a plan. Before you make a run to the bank, make a list of those people who have assisted you regularly. Once you know whom you'd like to thank, make a realistic budget of what you can afford to give. If you live in a major metropolitan area, the expected tipping range is slightly higher. Increase the tip for individuals with whom you have a friendship or those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

  3. Hand-deliver your tip. When possible, deliver your gift in person accompanied by a handwritten card. Freshly printed, crisp bills are ideal. Gifts should be delivered on or before December 25, but may be given whenever you have contact with the person during the holiday season.

Plus, a few guidelines for how much to give:

  • Hair stylist: $50 to $100 or a gift

  • Barber: up to the cost of one haircut or a gift

  • Personal trainer: up to the cost of one session or a gift

  • Housekeeper: up to the cost of one visit

  • Teacher: A gift card or gift certificate for up to $25, or pitch in with some of the other parents and buy a more expensive gift certificate

  • Day care provider: $20 - $70 each, plus a small gift from your child

  • Babysitter: an evening's pay, plus a gift from your child

  • Massage therapist: up to the cost of one session or a gift

  • Mail carrier: small gift or gift card up to $20

  • Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30

  • Sanitation worker: $10 to $30 each for private service (check your local municipality for regulations, as some areas may not allow tipping!)

  • Yard or Garden Worker: $20 to $50 or a gift card

  • Handyman: $15 to $50 or a gift card

  • Pet Groomer: up to the cost of one session or a gift

Tell me, did everyone on your list make the cut? Anyone else you'll be tipping this December? We'd love to hear!

p.s. While you're in budgeting mode, have you seen this genius shopping app?