Tipping for the Holidays

by Ron Haynes

Scanning through my RSS reader (I use Google Reader and it’s fabulous), I ran across a post on what “etiquette” says we should tip for the holidays according to Emily Post. It seems “Ms Post” hasn’t heard that there’s a recession going on. She also hasn’t heard of frugality … or a budget.

Service Provider

Recommended Tip

Live In Nanny One Week’s Pay
Regular Babysitter One Night’s Pay AND a small gift
Day Care Providers A Gift AND up to $70 to each person who works with your child(ren)
Any Live-In Help Gift AND up to one month’s pay
House Cleaner Gift AND one week’s pay
Barber or Hairdresser Cost of one visit
Trash Collectors $10 to $30 each
Personal Trainer Cost of one session
Dog Walker or Groomer Cost of one session
Newspaper Carrier $10 to $30
Handyman $15 to $40
Building Superintendent $20 to $80
Yard Worker $20 to $50
Teachers Small gift or note from you AND a small gift from your child

I just gotta say:

Holy Guacamole, Are You Kidding Me?

I’m sorry, but are these positions not paid enough? Do the employees have to depend on the kindness of customers? I’ll exclude teachers (they’re arguably the most important of the group) —  we should help them out, even though my kids attend a private school that charges me over $10,000 per year in tuition and then nickels and dimes me the rest of the year ($14 for my family to go to one high school basketball game?). As far as the rest of the people on this list, no way. I either don’t use them or it isn’t practical.

garbagetruck The trash guy? Gimme a break! He drives off nonchalantly when he negligently spills trash all over my yard with his giant robotic arm that slings my trash can around. The barber has gone up for the last 5 straight years even though he’s cutting less and less of my hair! I can’t imagine tipping a building superintendent since I own my own home. I don’t use paid babysitters (I have teenage daughters), only had one massage in my life and it was rather uncomfortable when I couldn’t help but wonder halfway through it if the masseuse was the older sister of my daughter’s best friend.

I don’t get the paper and I’ve had four different mail carriers this year alone. I walk and groom my own dog, work on my own lawn, fix what needs fixing, and clean my own home. This could be a list of “save money by doing these things yourself!”

Has tipping just gone too far?

Maybe tipping in and of itself hasn’t gotten out of hand, but the expectations sure have. It seems that everywhere I go someone has put out a tip jar, and it’s suspiciously primed with coinage and a few bills. Everyone from the Starbucks drive through to the dry cleaners to the deli has a clear bucket by the cash register just waiting on a tip. I wonder if the Salvation Army could increase their kettle donations if the kettle were clear plastic? What are your thoughts on all this tipping madness? I waited tables for over a year when I was first married so I know what it’s like to live on $1.85/hour plus tips. But when you have a job with the city, driving a truck and picking up trash with a robotic arm while making $43,000/year, it’s a little different in my book. When I tip, I tip extremely well, but I usually only tip waiters or someone that I know lives on tips AS their income. The instances cited by Emily Post are for jobs that have a steady paycheck. In these cases, a “tip” is really a gift and I reserve gifts mainly for people who are close to me.

What about you? Do you tip at the holidays? Why or why not?

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 988 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.