Tipping is always a touchy subject, especially around the holidays. While it seems like a common custom, many people still get stumped when it comes to leaving a tip. After all, how much is standard?
First, think about all of the people who are helpful to you throughout the year, from inside your home, to your kid’s school to making you look and feel your best. While there are no hard and fast rules — for example, what’s appropriate here in the ‘burbs doesn’t necessarily apply to those living in a major metropolitan city — and vice versa, there are people we should all be mindful to thank.
For easy reference, here’s your Average Girls Guide to leaving the right tip for the holidays.
In your home: consider giving your standing Saturday night babysitter, nanny, weekly house cleaner, landscaper, pest control, dog walker, handyman and others the rate equivalent to one session or even up to one week worth of pay. For a baby sitter or nanny, encourage your children to also make a homemade arts & craft gift for something extra special.
Beauty: consider the length of the relationship and how often you go. I often give up to one treatment worth for a tip to my hairdresser, or an extra $20 to my nail salon where I use different people and the money goes into a pot.
Gym/yoga instructor/etc: Again, consider the level of the relationship. Provide a private instructor the equivalent of one private session, and a small token of appreciation to the check-in person at your gym.
School: teachers love gift cards! I hear that Target, Amazon and grocery stores like Publix top the list. While the mall might sound nice, it’s the practical gifts that go the furthest. Consider the relationship, and don’t forget the administration, and the assistants. Gifts from $25-$50 are most common.
Garbage men, USPS & newspaper carrier: a small gift card (around $10) or even $10 in lottery cards is thoughtful, and appreciated!
Doctors: while a gift is not necessary, consider sending a holiday note, or even a small box of chocolates to the office staff to thank them for helping you all year. A little love goes a long way the next time you’re in a pinch (or feeling like crap)!
Restaurants/Delivery: if you always head to the same restaurant or bar, or use the same delivery guy, definitely consider a generous one-time tip over the holidays. I’m sure they’ll be filling your vino a little higher in 2015.
Unexpected: what about the gal handling your dry cleaning (particularly since you’er dropping off dirty clothes!)? Constantly dropping off FedEx packages or UPS? Does your fast casual eatery always crank out your meal in record time? Does the Starbucks guy have your order ready by the time you’re at the front of the line? I rely on people like this BIG time. Even $10 gift cards or holiday notecards with $10 is a generous gesture to someone who probably doesn’t get many thank you’s at all.
TAGG TIP: Consider buying a few $5 gift cards to Starbucks and leaving them in your purse or wallet. You never know who you’ll come across that you’ll want to say thank you with a small token, and you’d be shocked how far in goodwill that $5 act of unexpected generosity will take you!
And, final words on tipping in general: when it comes to tipping in general, there are so many deal sites now where you can get beauty deals like massages and manicures and nights out on the c-h-e-a-p. Please be sure to tip on the real, pre-tax, total, not the amount after your 1/2 off discount. Remember it’s the venue, not the individual, typically offering the discount, so you don’t want to penalize that person when they’ve given you value of twice as much.
Lastly, if you can’t afford to tip everyone, people understand. A heartfelt card or just saying thank you in a meaningful way goes a really long way.