How much and who should you tip?

By H. Roger Fulk - For the Sidney Daily News



Editor’s note: The Sidney Daily News is publishing a series of articles on etiquette as the holiday season approaches.

SIDNEY — The word “tip” originated in England and supposedly was an acronym for the phrase “to ensure promptness.” Although tipping is expected in most situations where someone provides you with a personal service, it is not mandatory. Rather, it is a discretionary kindness that we extend to reward prompt or excellent service. The tipping guide below reflects the appropriate tipping ranges for various services—always be generous during the holidays.

Holiday tips are appropriate to thank those who are involved in your daily life but may not be in your personal circle. Tipping is an end-of-year cash gratuity to a service provider such as your trash collector, hairdresser, newspaper delivery person, babysitter, or dog groomer, to thank them for their consistent and outstanding service. As a general rule, it’s best to tip the full cost of one service: the price of one haircut, the cost of one day of dog-walking, or a normal babysitting shift’s pay. If you don’t feel comfortable giving cash, a gift card is totally acceptable. Below are some examples for the holiday season:

Mail carrier: The United States Postal Service has strict rules for the types of holiday tips and gifts that mail carriers can accept, regardless of how many excess packages he or she has been delivering to your door. Rather than give cash, a check, or a gift card—all of which your mail carrier can’t accept—give a small gift worth less than $20. Sweet treats, baked goods, or a simple pair of gloves make a nice gesture. Sweet treats are also good rewards for your trash collector.

Regular barista:If your favorite barista knows your daily order before you even make it to the counter, you might want to give an extra holiday tip to this friendly face (who likely makes minimum wage). Rather than leave money in a communal tip jar, directly hand your barista between $5 and $20. If you don’t want to give cash, consider giving a gift card in an equal amount.

Hair stylist:During your regular appointment in December or January, tip your hair stylist or barber up to the amount that one hair cut usually costs you. If you’ve been seeing the same hair stylist for years, give him or her a gift card to their favorite restaurant, clothing store, or spa. The more personal the gift, the better.

Teachers/coaches:Teachers, tutors, and coaches who educate your kids appreciate a holiday gesture. Some schools prohibit teachers from accepting money from parents, so play it safe by giving a thoughtful thank you card along with a small gift, such as a book, picture frame, or plant.

Cleaning person:If you have a cleaning person tidy up your home, give him or her between 50 and 100 percent of what you usually pay for one service. So if your cleaning person charges you $100 for one visit, give a holiday tip of $50 to $100. If you don’t want to give cash, you can also give a gift card, thank you note, and box of holiday pastries.

Personal trainer: Whether you regularly work out with a personal trainer, yoga teacher, or Pilates instructor, consider tipping the cost of one session with them. You can also give them a gift card to a local spa or department store. Just keep in mind that your personal trainer probably won’t appreciate getting cookies, candy canes, or other holiday treats loaded with sugar.

Dog walker: We entrust pet groomers, dog walkers, and pet sitters with our beloved furry friends, so definitely remember to tip them the cost of one normal service. For example, if you typically pay your pet groomer $30 per session, pay him an extra $30 during the holidays. If you have a particularly close relationship with your dog walker or pet sitter, give more money or an appropriate gift card.

Babysitter: Whether you occasionally pay a neighborhood teenager to babysit your kids or you have a live-in nanny, the people who care for your children will probably expect a holiday tip. Have your children write a thank you note to their babysitter or nanny, and include cash or a check for an amount equal to one day’s pay (for an occasional babysitter) to one week’s pay (for a full-time nanny).

The holiday season is prime time to give back. Whether it’s your stylist, garbage collector or mail carrier, it’s always nice to feel appreciated. Plus, we all tend to do a better job knowing our efforts are valued, according to most etiquette experts.


By H. Roger Fulk

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is holds the rank of full professor emeritus at Wright State University, where he served as the chair of the Office Information Systems Program. He is also a certified etiquette trainer.

The writer is holds the rank of full professor emeritus at Wright State University, where he served as the chair of the Office Information Systems Program. He is also a certified etiquette trainer.