What you need to know about holiday tipping

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Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013 12:00 am

With all the shopping and bopping around to parties and events this time of year, don’t forget a tradition that still lives.

That would be tipping. Although optional, it’s what generous and proper people do.

Lizzie Post, 31, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post, calls it “holiday thanking,” and she offers some guidelines:

>> Tipping is an end-of-year cash gratuity to a service provider such as your hairdresser, cleaning lady, personal trainer, massage therapist, newspaper delivery person, baby sitter or dog groomer to thank them for consistent and outstanding service. The rule of thumb about how much to give is an amount equal to one session or one week’s worth of service. For example, a babysitter should be given a holiday tip equal to one evening’s pay and a small gift from your children.

>> If you tip at the time of service, you may forgo an end-of-the-year tip or give a more modest holiday thank you. You may choose to give a small gift instead.

>> Professionals such as teachers should not be tipped and doing so could be perceived as inappropriate. They should be given a gift instead.

>> Mail carriers working for the U.S. Postal Service may not accept cash gifts, checks or gift cards. Postal rules allow them to accept small gifts worth less than $20 or snacks.

>> When a lawn service provider is a crew of several workers, a gift is acceptable. It can be sent to the headquarters. “You might do a gift they could all share that is within your budget. You want to say thank you.”

>> If you can’t hand out money to everyone, that’s also acceptable. A plate of cookies or box of candy is a nice gesture. With or without a tip or gift, a short handwritten note of appreciation is appropriate. The bottom line: Don’t feel obligated to go beyond your personal budget.

>> When in doubt, ask: Call the front desk and ask what is accepted by the company and what is typical from other customers.

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