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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Etiquette: Holiday Tipping and Gifting

This one gets me, I admit. Should you tip more at the holidays? Who gets a tip/gift? Is it necessary? At the end of the second page (Holiday Tipping is Really Holiday Thanking) there's an extensive chart on who to tip and what. They really put a lot of thought into this, and I, personally, appreciate it!

Holiday Tip vs. Holiday Gift

The holiday season is a budget stretching season for many. Between your gift list, holiday tips, parties, dinners out and  traveling, it's easy for expenses to quickly add up. One question we've often been asked is: What's the difference between a tip and a gift?

It can easily get confusing and it's important to make a distinction about whether you're giving someone a gift or a tip. Why? Professionals shouldn't be tipped--and doing so could be perceived as inappropriate. For example, a cash tip to your child's teacher or a government employee such as a postal worker is (in most cases) a prohibited practice. Gifts of small monetary value, however, are fine. 

Tipping is an end-of-year cash gratuity to a service provider such as your doorman, hairdresser, newspaper delivery person, baby sitter  or dog groomer, to thank them for their consistent and outstanding service.

Why does this get so confusing? One reason may be that you can give a gift instead of or in addition to a tip, a helpful tactic if you're strapped for cash. For more on this topic,
check out our tipping chart, complete with monetary recommendations here.

Gifting: A thoughtful present to recognize and show appreciation for family, friends, co-workers and other people in our lives.

We've received many questions about whether to tip or give a gift to teachers and health care professionals. These professionals fall into the gift category. Here's why:
It's wonderful for a child to want to give a gift to his or her teacher. It's also lovely for a parent to recognize a teacher's hard work. Books, gift certificates to office supply stores or other thoughtful items are welcome. Teachers are salaried professionals - a cash tip is not appropriate as it could be seen as "currying favor." Use this opportunity to teach  your child the basics of gift-giving etiquette, such as how to select a gift that someone would like and how to present it to the person.
Nurses or Health Care Professionals:
Cash gifts may be prohibited. Check with each institution's policy before giving a gift to a medical professional. At some non-profit institutions, a donation may be made in honor of a nurse or other employee. Health care professionals have told us they do welcome gifts such as platters of food or cookies that can be shared with staff. Gift cards, if allowed, are a great option too. Good choices include gift cards for the hospital coffee shop or area restaurants. If you select a gift for an individual, choose one that is meaningful to you and always accompany it with a hand-written note of thanks. 
Remember: Gifts and tips at the holidays, are optional (unless part of a written contract) and depend on your budget and relationship to the provider. Holiday tips don't replace consistent kindness and expressed gratitude throughout the year.

Holiday Tipping Is Really Holiday Thanking

The holiday season is traditionally the time Americans choose to thank those who provide them with year-round services. In these tough economic times it’s important to remember that holiday tipping is truly about saying thank you. With a little creativity you can accommodate everyone on your list this year without blowing your budget.

Here are some things to consider when you're deciding how to thank people, who you will spend money on, and how much you will spend:

  • Your budget: First and foremost, you shouldn’t feel obligated to go beyond your personal budget.
  • If your budget does not allow for tips, consider homemade gifts; and if you’re not good with crafts or in the kitchen, remember that words are always a great way to express your thanks for a year of good service.
  • Any gift or tip should always be accompanied by a short handwritten note of appreciation. (Two or three sentences will be enough.)
  • Do you already tip regularly? If you tip at the time of service, you may forego an end of the year tip, or give a more modest holiday thank you. You may also choose to give a small gift instead.
  • The quality and frequency of the service you receive.
  • Your relationship with the service provider.
  • Location: Tipping averages tend to be higher in larger cities.
  • Length of service: The number of years you’ve been using the service.
  • Regional customs.
  • Type of establishment: Is it deluxe or moderate?
  • When in doubt, ask: Call the front desk and ask what is 1) accepted by the company, and 2) typical for what they see from other customers.
  • Common sense, specific circumstances and holiday spirit should always be your guide.
  • Don’t buy into the thought that if you don’t tip you won’t get good service for the coming year. If you think you've had bad service for this reason, you might want to consider changing companies or speaking directly with a manager. 

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