10 Tips for Holiday Tipping


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Aside from holiday shopping and gift planning, this time of year also involves tipping.

From doormen to housekeepers to personal trainers, the notion of tipping tends gets into some murky areas.

We turned to Michael Fazio, author of Concierge Confidential and co-founder of AbigailMichaels Concierge, for some guidance when it comes to who to tip, how much and ways to take the stress out of the process.

1. Set a budget

Just as you plan your holiday shopping budgets, a budget for tips is needed. You don’t want to be short on cash for your bills and necessities because you felt the need to give overly generous tips this holiday season.

“You can’t just start disbursing the money to everyone,” Fazio says. “Gather up your info and determine who are the top five or 10 people that impact my life.”

2. Change the way you think about tipping

The idea of tipping tends to cause stress, as we feel guilty if we don’t make sizable tips to everyone who works in the apartment building or hair salon, for example.

Fazio urges consumers to think of tipping as a positive process. “Strip all of the emotion out of tipping, since it’s a part of life that we should embrace and joy – it’s a form of acknowledgement.”

3. You don’t have to tip everyone

Not everyone you come in contact with will get a tip – and that’s OK. Sometimes we feel the need to tip those who provide services we don’t always get.

“You might not see the doorman who works after hours, but there is a whole other population in the building that does, so those people will give their tip,” he adds.

The thinking is to reward the few people who provide a service in your life who make the most impact.

4. Reducing your tipping list helps, not hurts

By keeping your tipping list limited to the most important people, this enables you to gives these people more money.

Also remember that tipping is not customary in all industries. “It seems as if more and more industries have the notion that a tip should be given, but you have to determine if the person had a noticeable impact in your life,” Fazio says.

5. Stick to cash

Cash is king when it comes to tips, not home-baked cookies or cans of popcorn that have to be carried home and might not be to the tippee’s taste.

“Twenty dollars in cash means a lot more than the $25 you might have spent on that can of cookies,” Fazio advises.

Gift cards are acceptable, especially universal cards that can be used at a variety of stores.

6. It’s not just about the money

Instead of slipping a 20- or 50-dollar bill to your housekeeper, Fazio recommends putting the money inside a holiday card to get more mileage from the tip.

Beyond the monetary bonus, a hand written-note goes a long way when it comes to expressing your appreciation.

7. Restaurant tipping

At restaurants, tipping servers is typically the priority. Fazio argues the importance of tipping the reservationist working behind the scenes in the administrative offices at the restaurant. You probably haven’t met the reservationist, but depending on the restaurant, you’ve spoken to him or her on the phone.

“People assume the reservationist is at the front of the restaurant, which is not always true,” Fazio adds.

8. Doorman

If you live in an apartment building, you may have several door staff, security guards or maintenance crew members.

Whom you tip ultimately depends on how much you interact with them. “You don’t need to tip all the doormen, but instead the ones you have a relationship with, which should be awarded $100, especially in a major city,” Fazio advises.

9. Service-oriented tips

Not everyone is tipped equally. Here’s a quick guide for how much each service provider should be tipped, according to Fazio:

  • Housekeeper: the value of one service
  • Hairstylist: 50% to 100% of the value of one service
  • Dog walkers: $25 or up to one week’s worth of service
  • Personal trainer: the value of one service

10. If you can’t tip …

If you don’t have the money to tip this holiday season, it’s best to be honest and upfront.

“It’s perfectly acceptable, especially given the overall climate of the economy, for someone to say: ‘It’s been a tough year and I’m sorry I can’t tip this year,’ or ‘I get my bonus or commission in a few months and I can tip then,’” Fazio says.

Especially if you’ve tipped the same people for several years in the past, you don’t want to create friction by suddenly not giving the tip without some reasoning or explanation.


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