Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Have you ever wondered how much is enough when it comes to tipping? Should you tip even when service is bad? While there are no hard and fast rules that can’t be amended to your situation, we do have some guidelines to help you with your holiday tipping this year.

From the Protocol School of Texas comes this guideline in determining who should get paid: Generally, you should give an extra holiday tip to people who rely on tips throughout the year and who you see regularly during the year, because they have treated you loyally, given you good service, and you would enjoy receiving future service from them.

If you aren’t sure who should be included on your holiday tipping list, Real Simple has a holiday tipping checklist of 29 different possibilities, along with appropriate amounts and whether a tip or a gift is the way to go. The Emily Post Institute says that holiday tipping is really “holiday thanking” and recommends a short, handwritten note of appreciation should accompany your gift or tip, because “words are always a great way to express your thanks for a year of good service.” We heartily agree, and have several notecard and stationery options that would be perfect for thank you notes.

ABC News tells us that Americans shell out billions (yes, with a “B”!) of dollars in tips annually, according to the IRS, and offers these suggestions on tipping etiquette:

  • When tipping with cash, you should pay it directly to the individual.
  • For those who live in communities where there are “tipping funds,” as is common in high-rise buildings, give the tip directly to the individual who provides the service.
  • Putting a face to the gift makes the act more meaningful and more memorable for the individual receiving the tip.
  • A personal card is not only proper etiquette, but also ensures your gift is not lost in the holiday shuffle.
  • Remember that giving money is not always the right thing to do. In fact, tipping professionals like physicians, teachers, accountants, and colleagues is inappropriate. Instead, try a thoughtful gift or gift certificate to thank the professional for their hard work and service.

Money Under 30 offers an “Anxiety Free Guide to Holiday Tipping” to help you decide whom you should tip, and how much. They point out that “Tipping, at any time of the year, is a fraught activity. It injects money into what often feels like a friendly social interaction, and lays bare its commercial foundation in a way that invites awkwardness.” We couldn’t have said it better.

The key thing to remember when deciding who gets paid and how much you should tip this holiday season, is that holiday tipping is, as Emily Post says, holiday thanking, and it should be done out of appreciation, not obligation.