Here’s a Tip for the Holidays

7 Dec

My father-in-law famously hated tipping.  To anyone in earshot, he’d grouse about how he’d rather pay “twice as much” for a given meal or service than be forced/guilted into anteing up another 15 percent on top of the total.  Poor Charlie!  He never made the transition to 20 percent, what his son and I consider de rigeur in the 21st century.

Tipping becomes trickier during the holidays, when tips and gifts morph into one pricey package!  Just the other day, I sat down and added up the number of teachers, aides and assistants in our lives.  Between our two kids, it’s a whopping 34 women and two fellas!  Which doesn’t count hairdressers, the cleaning lady, or the sweet old gal who has delivered our mail for 11 years!

So who to tip?  Who should receive a gift rather than greenbacks?  I found the following guide in Real Simple, one of my favorite magazines:

Give a Tip to Your…

Landscaper/gardener: $20 to $50. If he or she comes frequently, give up to a week’s pay.

Pool cleaners: For a regular crew, the price of one cleaning, to divide among themselves.  If a different employee shows up each visit, holiday tipping is unnecessary.

Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price.  Sometimes you can include a tip when you pay your bill.

Handyman: $15 to $40, depending on how much work you’ve had him do.

Buy a Gift for Your…

Teacher/tutor: Don’t spend more than $25.  Assuming the school allows gifts, give something such as a bookstore or restaurant gift certificate, a picture frame, a coffee shop gift card, or a homemade gift from your child, accompanied by a hand-written thank-you note.  Gifts aren’t as common at middle schools and high schools where each child has five or more teachers.

Letter carrier/package courier: While nothing is expected, if you have a friendly relationship with the person, then a small gift or gift card in the $20 range is a nice gesture.  Anything more valuable than that is prohibited by the United States Postal Service.  FedEx allows tips or a gift worth up to $75, while UPS does not have an official policy.

Nanny: A tip equal to one or two week’s pay, plus a personal gift from your child(ren), such as a framed crayon or marker portrait showing the child’s appreciation.  Avoid kid-oriented gifts; an attractive handbag might score major points.

Day-Care Staff: $25 to $70 each for those who have direct contact with your child(ren), plus a small, personal gift from your offspring.  If only one person takes care of your kids, shoot for the higher end of that range.  A gift certificate is fine, but take the time to include a hand-written card.

Give a Tip or a Gift to Your….

Babysitter: Cash or a gift equal to one or two night’s pay.  A personal gift from your child(ren) is always appreciated as well.

Cleaning lady: Up to one week’s pay and/or a gift.

Hairstylist/manicurist/barber: The cost of one visit, or a gift of equivalent worth.  If you deal with more than one person at a given establishment, give cash so they can split it among themselves.

Personal trainer/yoga instructor/massage therapist: Up to one session’s fee or a modest gift, depending on how often you see him/her and whether he/she comes to your home.  Avoid giving chocolate, cookies, or other unhealthy foods.

For more, visit www.realsimple.com.

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