‘Tis the season of giving, and not just presents for loved ones and friends. Whether you’re picking up giftables or baking holiday treats, don’t forget to appreciate those who provide services and personal care for you all year long.
Although it might seem like our culture is becoming more narcissistic by the moment, a recent care.com survey indicates that 70% of American families plan to give between $100-$250 in special holiday tips. Of these, 41% budgeted for this giving, and 18% plan to give more than they did last year.
In some settings, tipping has become almost obligatory. For instance, many upscale restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity to your bill now. Still, holiday tipping is a whole different situation. That same survey also shows that 85% of those who plan to give holiday tips are doing so out of a desire to express gratitude to those who provide consistently great care or services, while only 21% do so because it’s expected. This leads to my #1 tip for holiday tipping: make sure you’re giving from the heart. It’s not so much about how much you give, but the spirit behind it. With that in mind, let’s look at a few more practical guidelines for holiday tipping.
Tip #2: Know who to tip, who not to tip, and what’s appropriate to give.
Having the right heart is important, but you can still make people feel awkward or commit a giving faux-pas if you don’t do your research. Here is the list of service people who might be appropriate to recognize with small gifts or monetary tips this season:
- Newspaper deliverers, package carriers, lawn care providers, regular maintenance providers, sanitation services, housecleaners, pet care providers, parking garage attendants, hairstylists, massage therapists, personal trainers, in-home caregivers, child care providers.
Appropriate gift amounts for each of these ranges from the cost of one service, one day’s pay, or even one week, depending on the level of time commitment and personal care they’ve provided. If the person you’d like to tip isn’t listed above, it doesn’t mean you can’t express appreciation: there may just be special circumstances. For instance, U.S. postal workers are not allowed to accept gifts of money, or any gifts valued over $20. Stay within these limits if you want to appreciate them. It’s also considered inappropriate to give cash tips to teachers, who should be at the top of your list of people to appreciate. Instead of cash, small homemade gifts from your child or taking up a class collection for a special present are more appropriate ways to express gratitude for all they do.
It’s also inadvisable to tip those in the professional sphere, no matter how much they’ve done for you: doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, investors, your managers, staff, etc.
Tip #3: If you can’t give money, give homemade treats and words of gratitude.
Perhaps you really can’t afford monetary tips this year, or you want to appreciate someone who can’t receive gifts of money. This doesn’t have to keep you from giving. Use your talents to create something special (baked goods, homemade ornaments, crocheted beanies) and most importantly, include words to express exactly why you’re grateful for them – spoken, written, e-mailed, or otherwise. If you’re not that eloquent, a simple “thank you for all you do” is all it takes to make someone’s holiday a little brighter.
Tip #4: Come up with a list of people in service industries who have been the greatest blessing to you this past year.
Don’t feel obligated to acknowledge all of these individuals during the holidays. Focus on a handful of those who really put their heart into their work, always have a friendly smile and cheerful attitude, and go out of their way to make your life a little easier or happier. And, most importantly, discover the joy of giving!