12 Days of Christmas Tips – Day 12: Holiday Tipping

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12 Days of Christmas Tips – Day 12: Holiday Tipping

People’s approach to holiday tipping seems to vary in different regions of the United States and around the world. For those of us the in Dallas – Ft. Worth metroplex, figuring out who we should tip at the holidays, and how much we should tip, does not necessarily come naturally to us. I checked with the Emily Post Institute, and even the vaunted oracle of all things civilized and appropriate says, “It depends.” My opinion is that there is no one right or wrong answer. Ultimately, you should let your instincts be your guide about what is appropriate or not appropriate. Let me make some suggestions on where you might start.

Let’s start with the Who? These are people who you interact with throughout the year, and who help you or provide some type of service to you, for which you do NOT normally tip. This might be a house cleaner or maid, lawn crew, a baby-sitter, nanny, your child’s teacher, a coach or instructor, tutor, a dog-walker, or newspaper delivery person. Do these people provide you (or a loved one) with excellent service all year long and make your day a little better, smoother, and easier? If so, a holiday tip is appropriate. Cash works for those you usually pay directly. For those who are paid directly by someone else (like a teacher), a gift or gift-card is an appropriate way to say “thank you.”

Other people typically thought of at Christmas time are delivery persons, USPS, FedEx, UPS, messengers, and the like. If there is a person you regularly deal with from that organization, and you would like to say thanks for a job well done, than a gift card works well. Be sure to be aware of companies policies about receiving cash tips and gifts so you don’t put the individual in an awkward position. Some of these business have limits of what employees can accept, so research that before hand.

While a majority of the residents in our area live in single family homes or apartments, there are some people who live in a high-rise condo building that has the traditional doorman, valet, or front desk person who you interact with on a daily basis. Some buildings now have the HOA collect tips and distribute equally to all the staff, but others still leave it up to individuals. A cash tip is generally appropriate for these types of service providers.

People who provide services such as hairstylist, barber, or manicurist are often tipped every time you use their service. If you have been tipping all year long, then a tip at the holidays is not expected. If you want to make that December tip a little more generous than normal that is certainly going to be appreciated.

If you work in a business setting where you have an assistant of some sort who helps facilitate your work throughout the year, be sure to show them some type of appreciation at the holidays. Company policies should be a guideline, but in most cases some show of appreciation is appropriate.

For all of these situations, one of the keys is how you feel about this person and how they impact your life. If they make a difference in the area in which they serve you, Christmas time is an appropriate time to express that. In a time in which many people don’t do so, your remembering someone will make an impression on them, and may really make their day.

By the way, if a regular service provider is not doing a good job, consider addressing that with their supervisor at some time other than Christmas. Let’s face it, getting in trouble, or fired, during the holidays or at the end of the year is the pits. Address poor service on a regular basis throughout the year, and make changes when you are not getting good service. You don’t want to become a Scrooge in December!

I have not mentioned dollar amounts here, because there are many variables at play in each situation. You should never feel obligated to give more than you can afford. Small denomination gift cards can brighten a person’s day, and say “thank you” without being extravagant.

Remember that a nice handwritten note is always appreciated. If the person has a direct supervisor that you know, a letter stating how much you appreciate the individuals good work might have great value to their career or new opportunities. I am not suggesting this in lieu of a tip, but it is a wonderful way to say thank you to someone who has earned those types of kudos.

Who and how much you tip is very much a personal decision. I would highly recommend that you consider those people who make a positive impact on your life by providing their service, and find some way to say “thank you” during this holiday season.



Keith Owens is the owner and founder of Owens Investigations.