How much should you tip this holiday season?

Don't Waste Your Money

Tipping is a topic many of us wrestle with throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season.

Trying to figure out who to tip and how much can be confusing. Our partners at the consumer guide Angie’s List asked some highly rated service providers to weigh in.

“This time of year the question of tipping your service company comes up really often," said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks.

"Most people automatically think I need to pay cash. What they don’t realize is there are lots of other options. For example, I think one of the most powerful ways to say thank you to a provider to write a nice letter to their company telling them what great service they provided to you throughout the year.”

When tradespeople do get a tip, cash is the most-common gratuity offered. Other gratuities can come in the form of food and drink, gift cards, personalized gifts, referrals and letters or reviews.

Landscaper Ryan Curry agrees. He said tips can come in many different forms.

“I’ve had customers cook us dinner. We’ve been given sports tickets. The best form of appreciation that customers can show me is by having me back for more projects and also, just referrals to friends, family, neighbors,” Curry said.

Angie’s List Tips for Tipping:

  • Contractors, Handyman: A tip of $20 to $50 may be in order, based on the complexity of the task.
  • Bag boys or others who help carry your packages to your car: A tip of $1 per package/bag may be in order, though probably no more than $5.
  • Yard workers: A tip of $20 to $50 may be in order depending how often they visit your home.
  • House cleaners: Many suggest $25 to $50, a day’s pay, or a gift of equal value. If you use a service that sends a different housecleaner each time, this may not be necessary.
  • Childcare providers: For babysitters, the recommendation is a gift at the holidays from your kids, plus one or two nights’ pay.
  • For standard childcare providers, a gift at the holidays and $25 to $75 each. This may not be appropriate for some pre-Kindergarten child care/education providers. Check with the manager of the facility to see what’s appropriate, which might be a small gift from your kids.
  • Mail: Though the U.S. Postal Service frowns on gratuities and gifts for mail carriers, authorities request that the gift or gratuity be $20 or less.
  • For daily newspaper delivery or trash pickup, a holiday tip of $15 to $25 is appropriate.
  • Hair and nail salons: Double your normal tip.
  • A regular restaurant server who knows your name: Double your normal tip.

That way your provider is happy and you don't waste your money.

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