Holiday Tipping Rules ($10 Question)

Your Advice - help answer readers' questionsWith the holiday season almost upon us (or already in full swing if you accept what retailers are telling us), what are your holiday tipping rules? I had a quite lively debate about this with a group of friends who had a wide variety of opinions on the subject, and I’m sure the readers here have many more.

According to Consumer Reports, the following percentage of people give holiday tips to these workers:

  • Child-care provider (nanny, au pair, daytime sitter): 62%
  • Housekeeper/cleaning person: 61%
  • Child’s teacher: 59%
  • Hairdresser or stylist: 54%
  • Newspaper carrier: 47%
  • Manicurist/pedicurist: 44%
  • Barber: 40%
  • Gardener/lawn-care crew: 32%
  • Mail carrier: 31%
  • School-bus driver: 3


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8 Responses to Holiday Tipping Rules ($10 Question)

  1. dan says:

    I don’t do a lot of extra tipping during the holidays, but I do tip the gardener extra because he does an excellent job throughout the year and is quick to take care of things when I ask.

  2. Hilary says:

    It seems like the norm is moving away from holiday extras (bonuses are way down, apparently).

    Also, I find it really bizarre that people “tip” their children’s teachers. Is that really considered a service industry job? I always gave my teachers Christmas gifts.

    However, having worked as a waitress, I must admit that getting extra tips on holidays (July 4, etc.) was a huge boost. Maybe I will stop being a Scrooge and tip a little extra this season.

  3. annab says:

    @hilary — I think they give $$ gifts because the teachers spend a lot of their own $$ for the classrooms.

  4. baselle says:

    I tip my trainer – last year I gave her a Fred Meyer gift card (she goes to Freddy often). She told me that last year many of her fellow trainers got unhealthy food gifts like cookies!

  5. latte hiatus says:

    Tipping has gotten out of hand – seems like everyone expects a tip these days. I’d much rather do away with tips altogether.

    That said, whether or not I give a holiday tip depends mostly on two factors:
    1. Whether the position is in an industry that pays less than minimum hourly wage and depends on tips
    2. Whether I may be considered the “direct” employer

    For instance, my hair stylist receives a 27% tip from me for each regular haircut, and I tip her 222% for the haircut I receive right before the holidays. Bear in mind, however, that the 222% translates to $40 in my case, and that doesn’t buy much in the SF Bay Area with the high cost of living.

    On the other hand, not only do I have several neighbor mail carriers, they are federal employees who do not earn less than minimum wage. I appreciate their service, but I do not feel obligated to provide them with a holiday tip – their holiday bonus should come from their employer. Consequently, I express my appreciation in the form of a small tin of tea or cookies, and if I felt like they went above the call of duty, I would write a letter to their manager commending the person.

    Way back when I was working in an ice cream shop in high school, I regularly declined tips from customers on the grounds that I was already being paid to provide good service by my employer, and that the best rewards was simply a job well done. A couple dollars here and there was not my primary incentive to do a good job, and I felt awkward accepting tips because the price of my service was already included in the total bill. The best reward was when a customer complimented me to the owner, which made my work much easier. Weighing long term payoffs against short term small monetary gains is a no-brainer.

  6. Kelly says:

    I don’t give holiday tips, but I also don’t have relationships with anyone who provides regular services to me. The mailman and trash guys are the only ones I can think of that would qualify, but I don’t really feel that they should get tipped since they receive a regular pay check, not like a waitress who relies on tips. For other services like haircuts, I just use the walk-in place and don’t have a trainer or gardener like the previous commentors.

    Also, I find the tip jars left out at stores (like Dunkin Donuts) very annoying and never leave money in them. First of all because service at these places is hardly ever exceptional and the employees are already paid a wage that does not depend on tips.

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  8. gbowen99 says:

    Tipping is out of control these days. Here is my updated list of tips I hand out every year.

    * Child-care provider (nanny, au pair, daytime sitter): 0%
    * Housekeeper/cleaning person: 0%
    * Child

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