CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Pam,
With the holidays quickly approaching, I would like to reward those who have provided continuous services to me throughout the year, such as my beautician, the paperboy and the gentleman who mows my lawn. However, due to the sluggish economy, my pocketbook is feeling squeezed. I don't want to appear stingy. What is an appropriate amount that should be given? Would you please provide guidelines not only for holiday tipping, but for everyday occurrences such as cabs, bellmen, etc.? -- Thank you, Dedicated Reader
Tipping can be confusing, but it is important. It is a way of acknowledging someone who has provided good or personalized service, as well as helping to maintain those relationships.
Below is a guide to help you make an educated guess as to the amount to tip. There are no rules to tipping. It's not mandatory and will vary depending upon the size of your pocketbook, your geographic region, etc. You may want to increase the amount for exceptional service or reduce the amount if you experienced the opposite.
Add a personal touch with a nice thank-you note with your tip; it does not have to be long -- two to three sentences are fine. A sincere note saying how much you appreciate his or her service can mean more than money. If you can't afford a tip, consider a small gift or perhaps baked goodies. And consider writing the person's boss to say how pleased you have been with their service.
Beauticians: Some recommend doubling your usual tip (if a longtime customer). Others suggest anywhere from $25 and up. Instead of (or in addition to) cash, a gift or gift certificate is also appropriate.
Paper delivery person: $10 to $25.
Yard person: $20 to $50.
Household helpers such as those who provide cleaning services: $50 or the amount equal to one day to one week's pay.
Occasional baby sitter: one night's pay and/or a gift; daily baby sitter: two days' pay or a gift from you and an additional gift and/or thank-you note from the children; day-care provider: $20 and small gift from your child.
Nanny: one week's to one month's pay and/or a gift, and a gift and/or a thank-you note from the children.
Manicurist: $15 to $20.
For those who work for you once a week: one-half day's to one day's pay.
For those who work for you five days per week: one week's pay.
Laundry delivery: $10 to $20.
Live-in or personal care givers: one week's to one month's pay.
Barber: cost of one haircut.
Package delivery person: Check with the company first. Some do not allow tips. However, some employers allow employees to accept small gifts in the $20 to $25 range.
If you live in a residential building:
Superintendent: $50 (or more depending on the region) for those who live in the building and less for those who live offsite.
Doorman: $35 to $50 (or more depending on the region and service provided).