When it comes to holiday tipping, experts agree that there usually aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but rather rules of thumb based on common sense, specific circumstances, the type and quality of service and the personal relationship—if any—with the service provider.
We may see slightly less holiday tipping this season because fewer services were provided during the pandemic. “On the other hand, I think some people will want to be more generous if they feel that maybe a service provider or somebody they would provide a holiday tip to is hurting financially, or really could use a little extra help or an extra thank you,” says PeggyPost, a Bonita Springs resident and emeritus director of The Emily Post Institute, the quintessential source of etiquette and manners for nearly a century.
“I think holiday tipping might be a lot more individual this year, because for the last 18 months, it’s been a different world,” Post says.
The founder of the Southern School of Etiquette, which has locations in Naples, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, agreed that the pandemic has affected monetary gift-giving for many. “It’s wise for all of us to lower all expectations. This is the reality,” says Diane Carr, who received certification from the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta. “Cash is the best gift, but a gift card or small gift should be appreciated.”
Tipping is personal and dependent upon a variety of specific factors. “So much of it depends on where someone lives, or how close the relationship is with the person,” Post says. “In Southwest Florida, maybe tipping is not as prevalent as in Manhattan or a big city where people tip everybody in their apartment building, for example, from the custodian and the doorman up to the superintendent. You can’t go wrong if you really want to show someone you appreciate what they’ve done for you. So, you can develop your own individual list.”
The gesture should be as personal as possible, which means including a brief, handwritten note, if possible.“Whoever it is,” Post says, “I think it’s really good to put a little note and put the money or the check or whatever into the note and say, ‘Thank you so much.’”
SUGGESTIONS FOR HOLIDAY TIPS OR GIFT OPTIONS
Mail carrier: A small gift only. United States Postal Service employees cannot accept cash gifts, checks, gift cards or any other form of currency.
Package deliverer: A small gift only, no cash, if you receive regular deliveries.
Doorman: Gift or $15-$80 cash.
Garage attendants:$10-$30 or a small gift.
Yard/garden worker: Gift or $20-$50 cash each.
Pool cleaner: Gift or cash up to the cost of cleaning to be split among the crew.
Handyman: Gift or $15-$40 cash.
Day care provider: A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member who works with your child and a small gift from your child.
Personal caregiver: Gift or one week up to one month’s salary.
Home health or nursing home employees: A thoughtful gift, if gift-giving is not against company policy.
Personal trainer: Gift or cash up to the cost of one session.
Barber: Gift or cash up to the cost of one haircut.
Beauty salon staff: A small gift or cash up to the cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you.
Massage therapist: Gift or cash up to the cost of one session.
— The Emily Post Institute, emilypost.com