Tipping during the festive season is a way to thank your handyman, manicurist, house cleaner, hairstylist, or other individuals who provide services for you and your family throughout the year. But knowing how much to tip and how to do it can be confusing.
“Tipping is meant to be an expression of gratitude for a service well-rendered for a person you appreciate or for a role someone plays in your life that is important to you,” says Daniel Post Senning, copresident of The Emily Post Institute and great-great-grandson of famed etiquette expert Emily Post.
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how much to tip, but Senning says one easy way to work it out is to calculate the cost of a single service and tip that amount. Consider your budget and the quality of the services you received when determining the amount. You can also ask friends or neighbors for advice since tipping trends can vary by geographical area and type of service. If you already tip your service provider regularly, you could gift a more modest holiday tip.
Don’t worry if you can’t manage to give money. “My best advice is to never underestimate the power of your words to express what you are feeling,” Senning says. “You can communicate it with your actions: you can give a little something, bake something, or send a card.”
Your mail carrier might be the first person you think of giving a tip to as the holidays approach, but proceed carefully. US postal workers and FedEx drivers are prohibited from accepting cash or gift cards; UPS carriers can but are encouraged not to. The best etiquette in these situations is to consider these carriers’ tipping regulations, Senning says. He suggests gifting small items, such as hand warmers or snacks, as alternatives to a cash tip.
If you’d like to thank your child’s teacher or babysitter, an inexpensive but thoughtful present and a drawing or expression of thanks from your child should be appreciated. However, before giving a gift card or homemade treat to your child’s teacher, check with the school; monetary gifts or baked goods may be discouraged.