9 Rules for Holiday Tipping the Right Way

It’s that time of the year when everyone wonders whom to tip — and how much to give — during the holiday season.

Do you tip your kindergartener’s teacher? How about the garbage collector? And what about the mail carrier, hair stylist and a half-dozen others who make your life sweeter and easier throughout the year?

Let Money Talks News help with nine rules for tipping the right way this holiday season.

1. Spread the wealth

MCimage / Shutterstock.com
MCimage / Shutterstock.com

To tip within your budget, decide what you can afford to spend. List everyone you want to tip, and prioritize those folks. Then, decide how much to tip each person.

After you have hit your budgeted limit, find nonmonetary ways to thank people who didn’t make the list.

2. Stay within your budget

Yunis Malik / Shutterstock.com
Yunis Malik / Shutterstock.com

Don’t throw fiscal self-discipline to the wind for the holidays. There’s pressure to keep up with everyone else, especially at this time of year. It makes it easier to resist, however, when you imagine the misery of a holiday debt hangover.

3. Exercise flexibility

HBHR / Shutterstock.com
HBHR / Shutterstock.com

There’s no code of ethics for this: You have carte blanche to use your own good sense.

If you have little disposable income, disregard advice from articles that suggest tipping the doorman, the dog walker, the nanny and the personal trainer.

Those articles assume a level of disposable income you don’t possess, and the advice in them may be inappropriate for someone with less money.

However, if you can afford to tip, think about how much your nanny, personal trainer and other personal service professionals affect your quality of life. Then, tip generously.

4. If you’re unsure, ask around

WAYHOME studios / Shutterstock.com
WAYHOME studios / Shutterstock.com

Wondering what to give teachers at your child’s school? Call the office and ask what’s recommended and what other parents do. Your hairdresser? Ask at the front desk of the business. Call your garbage company to find out what’s recommended.

Don’t stop there. Ask your friends what they do. Quiz other parents and acquaintances at the dog park, coffee shop or your kids’ soccer games.

5. Don’t tip if …

Martin Prague / Shutterstock.com
Martin Prague / Shutterstock.com

A tip is a gift. You’ve already paid for the original service, so this is a recognition of extraordinary service. There’s no need for a holiday tip if the service you receive is nothing special.

Also, whether you tip and the amount you give depends on the frequency of service and your relationship. If you don’t know the name of your trash collector or your paper carrier, it might be better to give a small gift or something from your kitchen.

Remember that in some cases, it might be inappropriate to tip. U.S. Postal Service employees aren’t allowed to accept cash tips or gift cards. A holiday gift valued at $20 or less is OK, but you are restricted to giving gifts worth up to a total of $50 in a calendar year.

Teachers in many places typically may not accept cash, so give a gift worth $25 or less. Or, better yet, get together with other parents on a group gift.

Also, if you’ve been tipping steadily every time you receive a service, there’s no need to pull out your wallet again at the holidays.

6. Do tip if …

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

It is considered customary to tip the:

  • Garbage collector
  • Baby sitter
  • Newspaper carrier
  • Handyman or handywoman
  • House cleaner
  • Hair stylist or barber
  • Personal trainer
  • Massage practitioner
  • Caregiver
  • Manicurist
  • People who groom or walk/feed your pets

How much you give depends on your finances. If you’re not strapped, tip the cost of one session for those you employ regularly on a per-session basis. Give a week’s compensation to people who work regularly in your home or for your family.

7. When you give cash …

hannahby / Shutterstock.com
hannahby / Shutterstock.com

Put a cash tip in a card with a handwritten note of thanks. A couple of sentences will do. There’s no need to write a long letter.

8. When you give gift cards …

Rack of gift cards
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

When a tip is not appropriate, give a small wrapped gift and a card of thanks. Or give a gift card or gift certificate worth about $20 at a coffee shop, bookstore or online marketplace. Avoid giving gift certificates for necessities such as groceries. If you suspect your recipient is hard up, give cash instead.

9. When you don’t have cash …

kipgodi / Shutterstock.com
kipgodi / Shutterstock.com

Here are alternative ways of saying thanks:

  • Send a letter of praise to a worker’s supervisor.
  • Write a thoughtful thank-you note expressing gratitude.
  • Give a card or gift made by your children.
  • Give cookies, jam, chocolate truffles, pickles or other goodies you have made.

What are your rules for holiday tipping? How do you say “thank you” if you can’t give cash? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live

These benefits might make you think twice about retirement.

8 Amazon Picks Under $30 for Coffee Lovers
8 Amazon Picks Under $30 for Coffee Lovers

We’ve brewed up a list of amazing Amazon products that are sure to perk you up.

5 Ways Retirees Can Lower Their Income Taxes
5 Ways Retirees Can Lower Their Income Taxes

Here’s how to keep Uncle Sam’s mitts away from your nest egg.

How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance
How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance

This is the last article on understanding and shopping for car insurance that you’ll ever need.

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps
How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps

Does it feel like your paycheck is gone the moment you get it? You can break that vicious cycle.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.