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Gracious Gratuities

Dec 16, 2011 09:35AM ● Published by Mike

by Rhonda Ross

Everyone knows the standard 15% - 20% rule on tipping at your favorite restaurant, but at this time of year tipping takes on a whole new meaning. Many of us will be traveling which means we’ll encounter an entirely new group of people to tip. During the holiday season we also like to remember those special people who make our lives happier throughout the year. Enquiring minds, like ours, wanted to know exactly what the proper etiquette is when it comes to tipping in this day and age. So, in the interest of saving you some precious time during this busy season here are our “tips” on tipping.

Tipping on the Road
You’ve just finished loading the family SUV with the massive amounts of luggage required for a week at Grandmas, the annual ski trip, or lazing by a beach somewhere. Remember, they do charge for that luggage on the plane now so less is more. The moment you arrive at the airport you’ll probably be looking for a Porter or Skycap to help you haul the bags. The little self-serve luggage carts can be fine for one or two bags but a cart is no replacement for a real, live person who is willing to help you for a small tip. If your porter takes your luggage all the way to the ticket counter isn’t that worth a tip of around $2.00 per bag? We think so.

When you arrive at your destination and Grandma can’t pick you up at the airport don’t forget to tip your Cab Driver around 10% of the cost of the fare once they drop you at your hotel. According to the authorities at Consumer Reports® once you are inside your hotel the Bellman should receive a gratuity similar to the Skycap at the airport, $1.00 to $2.00 per bag and at least a $5.00 minimum. The concierge at your hotel provides a variety of services for you and your tip should reflect the importance of the tasks. The delivery of flowers to your room doesn’t warrant the same tip as getting you those great tickets to that sold out show.

When you come back from a busy day of sightseeing or visiting the relatives and you walk into your room to enjoy some down time notice the sparkling bathroom, fresh bed, and maybe even a mint on the pillow. Elves did not descend on your room while you were out. Thank the maid or luxury-hotel chambermaid with a tip ranging from $2.00 to $5.00 a day up to $5.00 to $9.00 dependent on the opulence of your hotel.

Conde Nast Travel tells us that tipping overseas is an entirely different situation than here in the States and can vary greatly from country to country. For example, in China the law of the land, and the rule at many hotels, is no tipping at all. An exceptionally fine hotel will add in a compulsory “service fee” so nothing else will be expected. That being said, people do tip. But, Conde Nast recommends tipping quietly and out of sight of the employers. The smart thing to do is familiarize yourself with the customs of the country you are visiting before you go so you don’t embarrass yourself or others.

Tipping at Home
The holiday season is the perfect time to remember those people who serve you on a regular basis throughout the course of the year. Think about how many times your hair stylist or barber squeezed you in at the last minute. What about the babysitter that gave up their date for Saturday night so you and your spouse could go out to dinner for your anniversary? Think of the countless hours your children’s teachers, coaches, dance instructors, spend going above and beyond the call of duty. Research shows that 40% of Americans give a gift of $25-50 to teachers, often in the form of a gift card to a bookstore or teacher supply store but you may want to check the rules at your school. If today’s economy is cutting your holiday tip resources consider prioritizing your most important service providers and moving those folks to the top of the list.

Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute, the go to company in matters of etiquette, cautions against cutting or foregoing holiday bonuses if you have customarily tipped employees at your home like a nanny, housekeeper, or gardener in the past. Post suggests one week to one month’s pay for a live-in nanny plus a small gift from your child. For the housekeeper you couldn’t do without Post recommends a tip equal to one cleaning visit paired with a gift. With faithful employees who have been with your family over time it’s possible they have come to consider the annual tip as part of their compensation and a sudden withholding at the holidays could mean you end up losing a valued employee.

When it’s time to pass out your gratuity be sure to include a short handwritten note in the envelope. That’s right, we said handwritten, not a text, email, tweet or a mention on your blog. All the experts we consulted agree that a message doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a couple of sentences thanking the person for their service and wishing them a happy holiday.

Are you slipping when it comes to holiday tipping? If you want to keep those around you from calling you Scrooge you might want to follow these guidelines on holiday tipping for all those people who make your everyday life a little easier.

Take these tipping suggestions courtesy of the Emily Post Institute

Recipient/Guideline

Baby sitter/ One evening's pay, plus a gift from your child
Barber/ Cost of one haircut
Beauty salon/ staff Cost of one salon visit
Day care provider/ A gift from you, or $25 to $70, plus a gift from your child
Dog walker/ Up to one week's pay or a gift
Doorman/ $15 to $80 or a gift ($15 each for multiple doormen)
Garage attendants/ $10 to $30 or a small gift
Gardeners/ $20 to $50 each
Handyman/ $15 to $40
Housekeeper/ Up to one week's pay and/or a small gift
Live-in help/ One week to one month's pay, plus a gift from you
Mail carrier/ Gift worth less than $20; no cash, check or gift cards
Massage therapist/ Up to the cost of one session or a gift
Nanny or au pair/ One week's pay, plus a gift from your child
Newspaper deliverer/ $10 to $30 or a small gift
Package deliverer/ Small gift in the $20 range
Personal trainer/ Up to the cost of one session or a gift
Personal caregiver/ One week to one month's salary or a gift
Pet groomer/ Up to the cost of one session or a gift
Pool cleaner/ The cost of one cleaning, to be split among the crew
Superintendent/ $20 to $80 or a gift
Teachers/ A small gift or note from you, plus a small gift from your child – Check with the school policy
Trash collectors/ $10 to $30 each

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