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November 25, 2009


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I've thought about small (under $20) gifts for my barber and our mail carrier, though I've never actually done it. (When no one is at home to deliver the gift, how do you make sure it gets to your regular carrier and not a substitute?)

The only other one on the list that applies is the garbage/recycling carrier, and frankly, I think ours (contracted on a city-wide basis) are terrible.

I have never given any holiday tips to anyone nor will.

Its just not a traditional custom!

Teachers: Target gift cards, usually $20.

Barber or hairstylist: I don't see a reason to go out of your way with a special holiday tip if you tip them every time you visit.

Cleaning person: We give our housekeeper a holiday bonus by leaving her double pay on her first bi-weekly cleaning after Thanksgiving. And we'll up that multiple every year after that she remains with us. Our last housekeeper was with us 10 years and her bonus was up to 5x pay.

Newspaper carrier: Growing up, we used to tip our carrier when it was a kid actually carrying newspapers. Now it's an anonymous adult who wings them from a speeding car driving the wrong way up our street. I'm not sure why this is a tipping situation.

Mailman: I would tip with a gift card if I owned a business and we had a regular carrier who walked in to drop off the mail everyday. For home delivery, I don't see the point when it's someone with whom I regularly interact personally. On our mail route, there is a lot of turnover and frequent substitutes (something we know from speaking with the post office about delivery problems). Why should a new or substitute carrier essentially hit the lottery by being lucky enough to be on my route for just a few days during the holiday season?

One group we go out of our way to tip well are service personnel we encounter during the holiday season. We travel annually during the Christmas-New Year's break, and we show our appreciation accordingly to restaurant waiters, hotel maids, etc. who are giving up their family time during the holiday season to make our family time a little more special.

We currently don't tip because we don't interact with anyone on a regular basis. Also, there are some very strict, and should be followed, rules for tipping teachers and mail carriers.

Mail carriers: by law are not allowed to receive cash and non-cash gifts cannot exceed $20 value. Since we have at least 3 mail carriers per week, delivered by a PO vehicle at the street mailbox, and have not had a personal face to face contact with any of them in the 6 months we've lived here - no tip.

Teachers: in our country teachers are not allowed, by law, to receive cash and non-cash gifts cannot exceed $20 value. It is suggested that gifts to teachers be in the $5-10 range and many teachers request nothing. I assume this is to keep gift giving non-competitive.

If I lived in one of the high rise buildings, condos or senior living complexes with a doorman or concierge that actually helped residents I would definitely tip. These are people that make live easier and often safer for residents and should be remembered.

Are you kidding? Sorry, I would never consider giving a holiday gift to any of these people---I've never even heard of anyone doing this. Maybe because I live in the Midwest?

I tip my hairdresser 20% at every appointment (which is unusual enough around here), and I usually get both a christmas and birthday present for the babysitter (because she's really good with my kids & almost a member of the family).

The lawn guys and the snow removal guys and the housecleaners get paid their usual barely-affordable high fee (which went up when gas prices went up, but of course failed to go down when gas prices went down.)

I'm not landed gentry, I'm middle class! I'm not sure why I should be expected to hand out money to everyone.

I have never given an Xmas tip to any of my service providers. I only tip restaurant servers and my hairdresser and even then my tips are normal rather than lavish.

My wife is the generous one, she loves to give but only tips her hairdresser and other beauty related operators. To her friends she gives things that she has baked and fruits & vegetables from our garden. She is also a knitter and loves to give hand knitted scarves to friends.

MC --

I live in the Midwest as well.

I tipped my hairdresser/barber yesterday. Although, I will say it is a girl I went to highschool with (which was only 6 years ago for me) and she routinely gives me a deal ($25) whereas most GOOD professional haircuts in the area are $40-50 for men. I tipped her an extra $25 on top of the normal $25.

I choose to pay for a haircut because it is something important to me since I interact with clients on a daily basis here at the bank.

MC - I am completely on the same page as you (and live in the midwest too).

I don't understand giving to any of those people listed above other than the cleaning person/babysitter. MC's example of the hairdressor is perfect. It doesn't make sense.

Why don't these people start giving random engineers money for designing the phone/TV's/electronics that they use then? Give the car mechanic more money? Give the Nicor and ComEd guy money???
Maybe this world would be a better place if all these people gave money to the needy or poor instead of people already making a good buck.....

FMF, you should do a forum on homeschooling. Something my wife and I would consider when we have kids someday...

Beastlike --

My wife would have to do that (I know much less about it than she does) but I think there are already some great homeschooling blogs out there.

I like Dave Ramsey's recommendation on tips. The guy delivering pizza's or the waitress that has to work at the Waffle House on Thanksgiving probably needs the money badly, so giving them an extra big tip would really help them out.

I always give my barber a holiday tip of $10 to $20 each year. I do tip my waiters/waitresses and delivery people more during the holidays as well.

One guy we always give a gift to is our auto mechanic, who is a friend from church. He gives us great deals on service ($15 oil changes, for example), does little stuff for free or just the cost of parts, and has saved us some big bucks on major repairs over the years. Some years we give him a big tin of popcorn that he can share with his crew. Other times I bake him a pecan pie.

We also "tip" our pastors and staff at church. In a few weeks, our church board will give the congregation the opportunity to give a special offering for all the pastors and staff. The money that is collected gets divided up according to some kind of formula that takes into account a person's position and years of service...then this money becomes their Christmas bonus.

Until we start tipping the firefighters and police officers (who, by law, are unable to receive monetary gifts, BTW) who keep us safe on EVERY holiday away from their loved ones, I don't see the point in tipping mailmen or waste collection workers!

Teachers ALWAYS deserve at least a small token for Christmas -- try teaching for just a day and then tell me otherwise (I did for a year).

Growing up my parents would give a gift (cookies or butter...yes, butter) to the mail carrier and milk truck man (I grew up on a dairy farm), and I thinking a few other people like regular hired hands, etc. And some years we gave gifts to teachers. When they have a cleaning person come in, I think they just tip based on the job they did.

I typically tip my 'regular' hairdresser extra if I see her around the holidays...but I usually tip her well anyway, because a) I don't see her very often (I moved away so she is now 2.5 hours away, so typically only see her when I visit my parents), b) she does a good job, and c) she's a single mom, and I know she needs the extra money. Plus, because she is an independent hairdresser in a small town, she saves me a ton of money. (Case-n-point: I went in a big appointment 8 weeks ago that would have cost $50-$100 more if done in a salon where I live.)

I am considering tipping/gifting the mail carrier since we have had the same one for a least a year.

We don't get our paper half the time, so no tip!!!

Funny, I've been reading this blog for years and never realized before that you homeschooled. (Of course, perhaps you've never mentioned it!)

As a fellow homeschooling mom, I must add -- you can still tip the teacher! (Perhaps she likes chocolates or flowers.)

As for our family, we tip our garbage man only -- and mostly because our youngest son loves the garbage man (neck tattoos and all!), waits for him on the porch on garbage day and waves. He always waves back, and sometimes toots the horn. So we give him a card with a twenty.

We don't have most of the other services, and our mailman drops stuff off in a neighborhood mailbox, we've never really even seen him.

Terri --

Don't worry, she'll be more than covered gift-wise this season. :-)

Here's our breakdown

Cleaning person: $20 (she only charges $40 biweekly, so I tip 50%)
Teacher: No children, but my husband does get a few gifts every year from his students.
Hairdresser: We don't have a regular, so we tip 20%-30% every time.
Manicurist: I don't have one...the few times I have gone, I tip 20%-30%.
Newspaper carrier: I've never even seen our carrier and he/she throws our paper into our wet yard instead of the driveway.
Pet-care provider: When my in-laws take care of our dogs, I get them $20-$50 Specs gift cards.
Gardener/lawn-care: $15 (he only charges $25 biweekly and weeds...)
Mail carrier: Never met our carrier and am not impressed anyway.
Garbage men: I'm getting them a case of beer with a bow since they always take whatever we put out there.

I also tip waitstaff 25%-30% instead of our usual 15%-20% on Thanksgiving and the couple of weeks around Christmas and New Year's.

In response to everyone who asks why tip any of these people, because it's nice and gives them a smile. It also shows appreciation. I don't tip unless I'm happy with the service, but why not be generous once in a while if you can afford it?

good for you, I 'm with you. I was going to post something along your message but I didn't like the way it came out--so I didn't send it. I also find that it actually pays off in the long run.

I do it because I give to those I know appreciate it; and frankly it makes me feel good to help out.
BTW, there seems to be a view that Midwesterners don't do this. I'm from the MW, and from a major (the major?) urban center. Does that make a difference?

Thanks BillV...that reminds me that I wanted to ask, why would it matter where someone lives when it comes to tipping? Would I appreciate my maid or gardener less in the Midwest than I do in the South? Is there something I'm missing?

I think it is a sterotype about the MW being conservative.

I know this off topic a bit, but:
I'd be interested in hearing comments from other parts of the country on this. I was thinking that urban people are more inclined to tip and a bit more so than others. (By urban I really mean the major cities and by generous I mean 20%or more at restuarants.

Houston, TX here...usually tip 20% unless the service is sub-par. I have tipped 25%-50% when the service is incredible.

If you are going to give your mail carrier a gift it can't exceed $20, otherwise they aren't supposed to accept it due to USPS regulations.

I do own a business and I keep my mail carrier busy so I give her a gift, usually tasty goodies like cookies.

My mom is a teacher, I used to substitute teach. Try teaching for 1 days then tell me they don't deserve some recognition for dealing with your kids. My mom loves teaching, I found it pure hell especially the middle school students.

weekly paper carrier delivers on the lawn, driveway or misses/skips me 1x a month, they should tip ME! Otherwise, a good daily paper carrier gets: $5-$10 in past, mail"man" delivers to a central neighborhood box so none there, I add an extra $2 tip to haircut (arber) before xmas ($9.80 price) and I usually tip regularly $1.20 to $3.20 depending on my massage and if I get a "free" shampoo and extra attention so that varies as such. Your mechanic should be added BTW. My garbabge man leaves as much recycle trash in street as he picks up and "tip" is he should be fired too!....I regularly leave 10-20% at restaurant before the tip but, including drinks and .50 a "round" for cocktails for 2 with $1 to start...considering up here waiters/waitresses ALSO get FULL minimum wage (WA about $8.50~ hr) vice reduced as almost all states pay, counterfolks always get "my change 'cept quarters" in their "cup" and maid at hotel $1 a day if "ok" more if decent and SCRUBS which is rare, even in 5* resorts,,,

Where I'm from, we don't tip at all. Ever. I've tipped once in my life (other than traveling in the USA) and that was to the bar staff at my 10 year reunion (because by the end they looked as if they needed it).

Our first day back in the USA, we actually stopped our waitress and asked her for a run down on the logistics of tipping (everyone tells you amounts, no-one tells you *how* to do it), which was a fun conversation.

I think it's a nice idea to give a gift or even a card to regular service people, but I don't think its common and I don't have any (I do give a card to the art shop I frequent).

If I read your post correctly you don't live in the US? If you live in Europe, aren't tips automatically included in your bill? So no surprise that you don't add on more. I wouldn't either.
One easy "how to" on tipping, take 10% of your total and then double. It works for me. Some people don't include the tax, your choice.

BTW, the real qx here is "Do you give a "bonus" at the end of the year (or Christmas gift if you prefer) to people who provide regular service for you. Sounds like you do for the art shop folks.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Barber - Probably $25 (about the cost of a haircut) - he's the owner, so I don't usually tip him -- but this is the holidays, so I think it's OK -- what do you think?
Secretary - Probably $125-150
Cleaning Lady - Not sure...will have to ask a friend who uses her to see what she's done in the past, but I'd be inclined to give her $50
Front desk staff - everybody in the building will likely contribute $100 or so to a fund to be distributed among them all.

Dang, that's a lot of money! But these people are all important, and I must tip them.

FWIW, I live in a major urban area in the East Coast, and I regularly tip 20% at restaurants.

I was a newspaper carrier for about a year. We were required to get the papers to the porch never on the lawn or driveway. So poor service was not an excuse for my customers to not tip. I delivered ~400 papers per morning, to a mix of about 50/50 to houses and apartments. About 90% of tippers lived in houses. The apartments were upper-scale apartments, but not big tippers. The houses were in an established upper-middle class neighborhood.

Around Christmas time ~50 people gave a tip. Most of them were from older customers. I am guessing here based on the car in the drive way the number and style of lawn ornaments and the neighborhood since I never actually met any of them.

Tips ranged from $5-$20 mostly added to their bill when they paid their subscription. But I got about 10-15 envelopes taped to doors with 'paperboy' written on them, one target gift card for $10, one hickory farms type sampler, and one fruitcake that I suspect was a regift.

All the tips were greatly appreciated, and made my day when I got them. This happened in Sacramento, Ca around 2006.

BillV - Australia. There may occasionally be service charges, but usually not - just a surcharge on public holidays. The real difficulty we found was the physical act of tip - how did you leave it, or where, how do you hand it over, and when? The things guide books don't set out :)

I think this has less to do with where you are from and more to do with the service provider, how much you appreciate what they do for you and how well they do their job. I also, am originally from the midwest and I admit until last Christmas I never gave a holiday tip. But my job, with a lot of travel, moved me and I lost my "free cat sitter" (my old downstairs elderly neighbors). I now do give a Christmas tip to my pet sitter. She comes into my home, she spends about 20 minutes playing with the cats, (that's what the neighbor says not just her word) she brings in my mail, puts out the trash if I'm gone on trash day, waters my plants and would turn off/on lights if I asked.

Last year the cats gave her $50, this year I've got a little more money so I think I'll give her one weeks pay which is $105. (I also sometimes come home a day early so since I prepay I just ignore the "credit" she says I have) If she didn't provided me with excellent service I wouldn't tip because she provides such excellent service I wouldn't not consider tipping her.

As this is now in the archives I don't know if you'll see it. You just leave the "tip" with the cash to pay the bill. In the folder in some places or if it's a diner type place on the table, no need to point it out or call attention to it. Hope this helps.

I don't hand out holiday gift for no good reason. I only spend money on my closest friends and family.

i'm surprised at how few people tip their service providers! i can't begin to imagine how difficult it is to get up in the middle of the night to deliver hundreds of newspapers! then go home and get ready for your day job? not for me! i tip the newspaper delivery person (a neighbor) 20% of the annual paper cost, which makes the tip about $40. cookies and a $20 gift card to the mailman (an acquaintance); $20 to the recyclers (another thankless job!) which i can give by calling the company and adding the money to my bill; ditto tipping the garbage haulers $20, who are great guys. i don't have the other expenses on the list, but when my kids were in elementary school, we used to give coffee shop or Target gift cards.

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