HOUSTON - Tis the season for giving... giving thanks and giving tips to show your gratitude to all those people who help you throughout the year.
The most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most expensive. After you complete your shopping list for family and friends, there's still your stylist, your yard man, your housekeeper, even teachers and babysitters. Where do you even start?
"The general rule around tipping in a salon is that there are no rules about tipping in general," said hairstylist Jennifer Barker.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance says the normal cost of a visit is a nice tip for a stylist you see regularly; but Barker says that's certainly not expected.
"If you're working so busily from morning till night and you don't have time for lunch, sometimes that homemade Christmas candy is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to 4 o'clock and you haven't had lunch," Barker said.
Not a baker? Landscaper Ryan Curry says about a quarter to half of his customers give something nice other than cash.
"I've had customers cook us dinner," said Curry. "We've been given sports tickets."
If you use a cleaning service that sends a different person to clean your home each week or a team of house keepers, Kiplinger's says a box of candy is customary. If the same person cleans your home weekly or bi-weekly, they suggest tipping the cost of one visit.
Mail carriers with the US Postal Service aren't allowed to accept cash. Instead consider a gift worth $20 or less. The trash collector could get a tip of $10 to $30. Then there are all those people who care for our kids. Kiplinger's says teachers should get a small gift, along with a note or drawing from your child. A regular babysitter should get one or two night's pay. One to two week's pay is appropriate for a nanny or au pair.
Before you go broke, Angie Hicks of Angie's List says don't just think about things you can buy.
"For example. I think one of the most powerful ways to say thank you to a provider is to write a nice letter to their company telling them what great service they've provided to you throughout the year," said Hicks.
Most people working in the service industry get tips across the spectrum from nothing at all to extravagant concert tickets. Business etiquette experts say what's most important is that you let people know you appreciate them and give only what you can afford.
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