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Holiday Tipping Guidelines

written by: •edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 10/15/2010

Tipping is almost like paying taxes—it’s something we all must do! With the holiday season near, are there tipping guidelines you should be aware of? What about the rest of the year? What percentages are most utilized when tipping and for what services? Jean Scheid explores the world of tipping.

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    To Tip or Not to Tip?

    Everyone Should Tip Of course everyone should tip those that work in those areas such as food service, personal services such as massage therapists or hair dressers, and others, but what tipping guidelines should you follow? With the holiday season approaching, are you comfortable about tipping during the holidays?

    Decades ago, if one received a three to five percent tip, it was a good tip. In today’s world, however, the percentage for the amount of a tip has risen, and it’s more streamlined than you think. Below we will look at some general tipping rules, along with suggestions for appropriate tips for the holidays and throughout the year.

    When considering guidelines on tipping and etiquette, my first piece of advice is: always tip, even if your tip reflects poor service and if the service is exceptional, show that in the tip you offer.

    Image Credit (Morgue File)

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    Tipping by Profession

    Yes, a haircut can cost $15 during special price days, and your dog groomer may say the cost for a full groom is only $40, but those prices do not include the tip for the service. When researching this article, I found dozens of websites that offer tipping calculators and or suggestions for how much you should tip for various services or events.

    As a general rule of thumb when it comes to tipping, no matter what the service, 15% to 20% is now the norm. As a tipper, you should also consider the service you received. If it was bad, your tip should reflect the service and perhaps include a message to the manager of the establishment.

    Some of us, usually those with money to spare, tip for things that aren’t really necessary. As a car dealer with a service department, I’ve actually had customers tip my technicians, which is a practice I don’t encourage. If you visit a massage therapist twho works for a chiropractor, you aren’t expected to tip there either—think doctor’s office here—do you tip your doctor or nurse?

    The website iTipping offers a tipping guide categorized by professional services that allows you to choose how much to tip based on the service and how well the service was presented.

    While this website offers much information, what if you can’t afford a 20% tip?

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    Tipping by Affordability

    Unfortunately, most wait staff and bartenders expect a 15%-20% tip. However, in the area of more personal services, where the individual actually gets to know you, there is often some leeway.

    For example, just because your neighbor tips everyone’s favorite plumber doesn’t mean you have to. On the other end of the tipping scope, if a massage aids you with pain or aches, your independent massage therapist will get to know you so talk and do tip, but only offer what you can afford.

    If you’re on a strict budget, include tipping in your personal budget. While it’s not good etiquette to skip the tip, you don’t have to shell out more money than you can afford. Carefully consider how much an event, an evening out, or a meal at a restaurant will cost you, and determine the cost of tip ahead of time to evaluate how it fits within your monthly budget.

    Please click on Page 2 for more guidelines on tipping and how much to tip during the holiday season.

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    When it comes to tipping guidelines, you must also understand about tipping during the holidays. Most say you must tip the mail carrier and others who make your life easier and work hard for you, however, what if you can't afford that tip? Here you'll find some solutions to these problems as well as a handy tool to help you calculate tips on the fly without a cell phone app or calculator.
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    Tipping for the Holidays

    Learn How to Tip for the Holidays The holidays are almost here! As you’re considering your budget this year, most likely you are probably thinking about the mail carrier, the housekeeper or house sitter. Are you required to tip all of these people and what are the guidelines on how to tip during the holidays?

    Most tipping websites tell you that you must tip the mail carrier as well as other people who are a constant in your daily life. Again, $20 tips are fine for the holidays. However, if you can’t afford it and are a crafty person; consider a homemade craft as a tip. Consider something thoughtful, but affordable as a tip. Do not keep up with the Joneses here. If you offer a $20 tip to your mail carrier and so does everyone else, that mail carrier will receive a large dollar amount of tips.

    Unfortunately, the holidays also mean social functions, and you may have tips to bartenders or coat checkers to consider. If you plan on traveling, what about baggage checkers or that shuttle service? Do make a trek to the bank and get a bunch of one dollar bills for cases such as these; offering $2 to $3 is fine for these types of holiday tips.

    Tipping poorly during the holidays because you think the service is bad is probably not the best idea. Consider the staff—they may be understaffed and overworked. In cases such as these, tip accordingly and if you feel you must convey your feelings, ask to speak to a manager.

    Image Credit (Morgue File)

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    Don’t Skip the Tip!

    When considering guidelines for tipping, or the rules for the amounts to tip during the holidays, keep in mind the wage of the service provider. Often, individuals working in the food service industry are paid a wage rate that is under minimum wage and rely on tips to maintain their lifestyle. Alternatively, a restaurant or other food service establishment as well as bartenders may split the tally of the day’s tips.

    Allow your budget to guide your tipping etiquette; that’s perfectly fine, however, you should never tip below 10%.

    Finally, if you’re lost on how to figure the tip and don’t have a handy tip calculator at hand, a good rule of thumb is to look at the sales tax, double it and add one more dollar. For example, if your restaurant bill was $50 with 7% sales tax, your tax would be $3.50. Add one dollar to the doubled $3.50 (or $7) and you’ll have an $8.00 tip or approximately a 15% tip.

    Reference: iTipping (http://www.itipping.com/index.htm)