Whom to tip during the holidays? A thoughtful warming of the palm may ensure good service throughout the new year. But in this winter of our financial discontent, dare we cut back?
Whom to tip during the holidays?
A thoughtful warming of the palm may ensure good service throughout the new year. But in this winter of our financial discontent, dare we cut back?
Certainly Ebenezer Scrooge would. Most say they’ll still tip, if a bit less. And they will apportion the largest tips to those they feel the recession has most affected.
What to give
Canton, Ohio, City Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, D-at large, would like to give her mail carrier a $20 bill, but she has heard that is not permitted.
You’re right, Mary. No cash gifts allowed, says Ann Frank, customer relations supervisor at the Main Post Office branch in the city. And nothing else worth more than $20.
Cirelli said she also tips her hairdresser “quite handsomely and not just at Christmas time.”
Hairdressers do seem to score anticipated holiday tips, as do their nail technician colleagues. Barbers, not so much.
Michael Collins owns an Alliance, Ohio, barber shop.
“Times are tough, but some do, maybe $5 or $10,” the 17-year veteran said of his customers. “Myself, I’ll tip the mailman. It just depends on who I feel needs it. Maybe I’d tip a little better if we go out to eat at the holidays.”
Servers at Samantha’s Restaurant in Jackson Township, Ohio, have noticed a slight tapering in tips, though business remains constant.
“Since the economy has changed, we’ve seen a bit of that, but everyone has still been pretty generous,” said owner Sabrina Freudeman, amidst a breakfast surge of 45 Green Local bus drivers who gather there annually in December.
Freudeman tips her dry-cleaning attendants $10 to $20 “because I’m there all the time.” Her mail carrier, manicurist and other service providers also receive either cash or gifts.
Jeff Fix, service manager at Hills & Dales AutoCare, says tips for his mechanics are few and far between. But the Portage Lakes, Ohio, resident never forgets his garbage collector “because I throw out some things I know he doesn’t have to take.” Fix also gives gifts to his barber’s children.
Domenico Maricocchi, longtime owner of Domenico the Tailor in Canton, says he doesn’t expect tips and rarely gets them.
“Sometimes a little money or a box of chocolates,” he said.
“Sometimes I give the garbage man or the mail woman a bottle of wine. And I give a gas card to my neighbor that mows my yard.”
About a fifth of his customers add a tip to the final bill of the season, said John Morris who owns a landscaping and lawn maintenance business. “Or maybe they send a Christmas card.”
The holidays comprise a large part of Tim Reinhart’s Santangelo Catering business.
“I always put ‘gratuity optional’ on my invoices, and some people will. We have two companies that tip well. Smaller companies usually don’t,” he said, adding he is diligent in tipping his delivery drivers as well as his newspaper carrier.
“Usually $25 for the carrier because he’s got to trudge through the snow,” he explained. “You have to remember those things.”
Etiquette arbiter Letitia Baldrige had the last word.
“You have to let your conscience be your guide,” said First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary and chief of staff and the author of “Acquiring What Money Can’t Buy.” “If somebody has really helped you out this year, you don’t stint on the tip.”
All in a word
The origin of the word “tip” varies from source to source. The acronym for “To Insure Prompt Service” often comes up, but if that were true, the acronym would be TEPS, “To Ensure Prompt Service.” Some credit it to the English who would give a “tip of the hat” as a gesture of goodwill. Others trace it back as far as 1706 where English literature had a servant speaking the word as it is used today.
What readers wrote
“I tip everyone,” wrote Elaine McCrimmon. “I guess having been brought up in metropolitan cities, it is just something you are taught to do. I believe service people appreciate cash or restaurant gift certificates. (Everyone has to eat.) Never presume you know what relative strangers in your life want in the present department. Cash plays a much longer and lasting tune.”
Delivery drivers get $5, she said, “unless they have to do stairs, then at least $10.” Newspaper carriers are given $20 to $25 for a year of service. Postal carriers and sanitation workers, McCrimmon said, “are tough because you are never sure if you are tipping the person who has serviced you all year.
For carriers, the tip depends on “whether they are in a truck or walking and fighting off dogs,” she said.
Garbage collectors are never forgotten, she added.
“A warning. Be sure to place the money into an envelope with large lettering and place in a baggie and tape it with electrical tape on to the lid of your trash can. One year, my gift was found down the hill at my neighbors.”
For Gale Park, who moved to a new home this year, her rubbish removal person was key.
“With every move comes lots of trash and extras for remodeling jobs,” she wrote. “We use Republic Waste Services, and their service has been outstanding. We intend on a monetary gift to our regular driver. We chose cash because with so many people there are numerous needs out there this year.”
Others wrote that they are conscientious about giving holiday tips to their hairdressers.
- Coaches, tutors, dance instructors, music teachers: Small gift from your child.
- Postal carriers: Non-cash gifts not to exceed $20 in value.
- Lawn maintenance: $25
- Garbage collectors: $15 to $30 each, depending on duties
- School bus drivers: $15
- Barber: $15
- Salon stylist: $20
- Manicurist: $20
- Cleaning person: $50
- Fitness instructor: $25
- Babysitter: One night’s pay plus a small gift from your child.
- UPS delivery drivers: No formal policy. Drivers don’t expect tips but are permitted to accept them.
- FedEx: No cash gifts. Not permitted to accept gifts valued at more than $75.
- Newspaper carrier: $20-$25
Sources: MSN Money and CNNMoney.com