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Holiday tipping: How not to be cheap

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

Who to tip and how much to give is a common head-scratcher this time of year. And with all the spending you need to do over the holidays, being generous to the people who make your life easier can be an added financial strain. How do you tip on a budget without being cheap?

No matter what your financial situation is, Lizzie Post, etiquette expert from The Emily Post Institute, says everyone has the opportunity to express gratitude with a thoughtful gesture. Whether it’s a handwritten card, a small gift or an envelope with cash, the most important thing is that you take the time to say thank you in any way, shape or form.

“Always look at your budget and think about what you can accommodate this season. Remember that this is really about holiday thanking, so don’t let it overly stress you out,” says Post.

The musts vs. the maybes

“Your must list for holiday tipping should really include the people that you see on a daily and sometimes even a weekly basis,” says Post. These include people that might live in your home or visit your home every day, like child and home-health care providers, housekeepers, and dog walkers. The recommended amount to give ranges from one week to one month of pay in cash, according to Post.

The “maybe” list can include service providers you interact with on a regular basis throughout the year. If your hairdresser is important to you and goes out of his or her way to accommodate your schedule, consider showing your thanks with a tip up to the cost of one session. Others you may want to tip up to the cost of one session can include your babysitter, personal trainer and pet groomer.

Cashless tipping

If you don’t have enough money to thank all the people you want to with cash, homemade goods like candies, cookies, and cakes are the way to go, says Post. Certain service providers – including hospital staff, mail carriers and sanitation workers – are restricted from accepting any form of currency so it’s important to check with agency policies to learn what’s appropriate.

How much is too much? Or too little?

There can be such a thing as giving too much. An overly lavish gift can create an uncomfortable sense of obligation for the recipient. Or they might think you’re trying to buy favoritism with them. To be on the safe side, a general rule of thumb is to tip the cost of one service.

As for too little, Post says anything under $10 to $15 in cash may come across as a hollow gesture. Instead, a small D.I.Y. gift with a handwritten card is a nice alternative, says Post.

Do you think you’re a good tipper? Tell us in the comments below or email us at YFmoneymailbag@yahoo.com

Source: The Emily Post Institute