Tipping & The Holiday $pirit

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One of the things I have learned from my parents is tipping.

I don't think i'm a lavish tipper, but I do take care of good service and make sure I take care of those who take care of me.

I wrote up before my guide on tipping in a bar, and that mostly holds true today. This was an article I read called "Be a Generous Holiday Tipper, Without Overspending" and figured it was worth reprinting:

New York (AP) -- This holiday season, a leaner budget might
clarify which people truly make a difference in your life. The
challenge will be figuring out how much to tip them.
Determining what to give during the holidays, if anything,
will likely be more complicated than in years past. Even if
money is tight, it's hard not to feel guilty about skimping on
the usual year-end bonus. You might also worry that not tipping
will create an awkward tension, or result in shoddier service.
Still, you won't be alone if you scale back. About a
quarter of respondents to a recent Consumer Reports survey plan
to tip less this holiday season than they did last year. Only 6
percent plan to give more. If you're among those on a tighter
budget, here's how you can save without appearing cheap.

Before you start doling out money, you might be curious
about what others are giving.
There are no hard-and-fast rules, but year-end tips are
generally the cost of a single session. So if a haircut costs
$40, that's how much you could give as a tip.
And holiday bonuses are generally reserved for people
you've relied on for at least six months, said Mary Mitchell,
author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Etiquette."
So don't feel obligated to tip a hairdresser you've only been
to a few times.
For someone like a paperboy who doesn't charge per
delivery, ask others what they're giving if you're at a total
loss. Practices usually vary by region, however, so don't use
your sister in Wyoming to gauge what you should pay in New York
City. You also shouldn't feel pressured to keep up with
Remember that some workers have guidelines on what they can
accept. Mail carriers, for example, can only take non-cash
gifts valued at $20 or less. That could include a gift card,
but not personal checks in any amount. Alcohol isn't allowed
either, even if it's worth less than $20.
Teachers generally can't accept cash either. The rules
vary, however, so be sure to check with the school. There could
also be guidelines on tipping other employees, such as bus
drivers and teacher's aides.

One way to save is to focus on those you feel must be
Last holiday season, for instance, the downturn didn't
affect how much housekeepers and teachers got. But fewer people
tipped their barbers, garbage collectors, mail carriers and
manicurists, according to Consumer Reports.
"The dollar amounts aren't changing so much as who is
getting tipped," said Donato Vaccaro, who helps conduct the
magazine's annual holiday tipping survey.
Since the economy hasn't improved, Vaccaro said more people
will likely trim their lists this year.
If the strategy sits well with you, start by identifying
those you feel absolutely should get tips. They'll likely be
people you have frequent or intimate contact with, such as
child or pet care providers.
You might also want to consider financial situations when
drawing up your list. A yoga instructor might not need, or
expect, a tip as much as a manicurist. Another reason you might
leave someone off the list: you already tip them generously
throughout the year.

If cash tips aren't in the budgetary stars, you can still
give small gifts that don't cost a lot.
Baked goods, jams and candles are the perennial crowd
pleasers. But use your knowledge about the person to be
creative. For instance, someone who recently took up knitting
might appreciate a subscription to a knitting magazine. Or if
you know someone who wants to start a side business, you could
offer to teach them how to set up a Web page.
Another option is pooling resources to buy a nice gift. For
example, tenants in an apartment building could team up to buy
an iPod for the super. It shouldn't be hard to find people
willing to participate, with so many looking to save right
If you feel you can't afford a tip or gift, thank you notes
can still make a difference. You could even spruce it up with a
Godiva chocolate; one box should be enough for all your
Of course, you might feel sheepish about giving a card that
doesn't have any cash inside. But at the very least, a warm
message can help ease any awkwardness that might come from
avoiding the issue altogether.
If you still can't shake your guilt, consider lightly
touching on your economic situation in the note. Business
etiquette author Mitchell suggests thanking the person for
bearing with you during these tough times.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on November 18, 2009 12:46 AM.

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