tipping, how to tip at the holidays, tipping advice

Holiday Tipping Essentials: How Much to Give and Whom to Give It to

December 10, 2009
by Isabel Cowles
During these difficult economic times, it’s tempting to forgo tipping. But it’s important to reward the people that provide valuable services year-round. Fortunately, there are a number of Web sites that help clarify the purpose and process of tipping at the holidays.

Tipping Basics

At one time, tipping was reserved for extraordinary service. Now it's considered standard practice. Before you contemplate the specifics of holiday tipping, be sure you’re giving appropriately across the board any time a tip-worthy service is rendered. If you’re not sure how much the shoe shiner, bellhop or salon shampooer deserves, a tipping chart from PayScale offers guidance.

Holiday Tipping

The Emily Post Institute’s guide to holiday tipping provides a detailed overview of what to consider when tipping and giving gifts at the holidays, including budget, regional customs, length of service and location (some parts of the country have higher tipping averages than others). The site also has a chart that covers what to give and to whom. For example, while you may consider giving cash to a live-in nanny, a private nurse should get a gift.

Typical Tips Explained

Real Simple Magazine demystifies some tipping traditions, explaining how to give to the people you see most often, including assistants, bosses, babysitters and teachers. For example, teachers should get gifts, not money. Real Simple advises keeping the present under $25 and suggests that you should not feel obliged to give if your child has multiple instructors.

Hotel Gratuity

If you plan on traveling this holiday season, remember that one of the most luxurious aspects of staying at a hotel is the service: From the moment you arrive, doors are opened, bags are taken and rooms are cleaned. Each person involved in the process of making you comfortable deserves a small ”thank you.“ The General Manager of the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan tells Better TV who is responsible for making you comfortable during your stay and how much each person deserves. For example, did you know that you should tip housekeeping between $3 and $5 every day?

What Doormen Deserve

People living in buildings with doormen or parking attendants are especially sensitive to tipping protocol come Christmas. With multiple attendants, doormen and service people in a building, it can be difficult to determine who deserves what and how to distribute money. A New York Times article, “An (Un)easy Guide to Holiday Tipping,” details the history, purpose and nuances of tipping. Don’t worry if you can’t be overly generous this year; sociologist Peter Bearman, author of the academic text “Doormen,” explains that excessive giving “is easily interpreted as an attempt to transform an employer-employee relationship into a master-servant relationship.” According to Bearman, “too much giving can lower the giver’s status and delegitimize the intended meaning of the gift.” 

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