‘Tis the season of tipping. Time to create our laundry list of thanks, and acknowledge the special people in our lives with a show of monetary appreciation for the services they have graciously provided all year long.
The teacher, Ms. Simmons, who puts up with our unruly children; the dog walker who takes Fido for his walk come rain or come shine; Grandma Ida’s caregiver who bathes her and massages her bony feet; Marie, the hair stylist, who squeezes in an appointment because she’s the only one who can tame your wiry tresses; the maitre d’ who reserves your favorite table and bottle of wine; the trainer who kicks your booty so you can look fabulous in your skinny jeans. The list goes on and on. These are the people we depend on day in and day out. They are committed to making our lives easier and less stressful. They help smooth out our ruffled feathers and provide us with solace when it seems impossible to find. Simply put, they allow us to be our best selves and shine.
So how should we convey our gratitude come holiday time? Which type of tip would be best received? Grab your cup of spiked eggnog and let’s decode the tipping conundrum together.
Get cozy and write notes
Whether in the form of cash, card or gift, there’s one thing that must accompany your tip: a meaningful note, preferably handwritten on paper stock and sealed in an envelope. Curl up on the couch with your stationery and start writing. Putting pen to paper to express your sincere gratefulness means more to the recipient than any tip regardless of how generous that tip may be.
Offer crisp clean bills
Traditionally at holiday time, cash tips were offered across the board to everyone from the salon receptionist to the building doorman. Cash will always remain king, but it is not necessarily suitable for every recipient. While we typically would not offer a cash tip to a teacher or doctor’s office receptionist, a cash tip for an elderly parent’s caregiver or the college-aged babysitter would be most welcome. When enclosing cash, have clean crisp bills on hand. It makes for a much nicer presentation.
For the love of gift cards
Gift cards have become increasingly popular with over 50 percent purchased by consumers over the holidays. They are the perfect tip alternative when cash feels a bit cold or inappropriate. With hundreds of gift cards to choose from, the choice is endless with an array of cards to satisfy any taste. A Starbucks gift card is wonderful for a dog walker who can’t live without his morning double shot of espresso with a side of foam, and an American Express gift card is ideal for a teacher who may wish to purchase some extra supplies for the classroom and treat herself to a manicure.
Let your gift be the tip
Sometimes neither cash nor cards will do, but a gift is just the right gesture to say thank you. Use this as an opportunity to get creative, make something handmade or purchase an item from the heart. Consider the recipient and what they would most enjoy or value. Never purchase a gift on sale unless you are absolutely positive it will not be returned. Refrain from tipping a regifted item as the gift search should require effort and be purchased new.
A gift to accompany the tip
As a thoughtful gesture, a small gift accompanying the tip adds appeal as well as sentiment. A set of headphones wrapped around an iTunes gift card packs lots of punch for your children’s tutor, whereas a gift of matching bathrobe and slippers from the children along with your cash tip for the nanny is both sweet and practical.
Should we tip for shoddy service?
While a 10 percent tip is recommended even for poor service at a restaurant, the holiday tip is completely at your discretion. If you are less than satisfied with a certain service provider, skip the hefty tip and send a personalized note mentioning a donation to your favorite charity.
Images: SheKnows/Karen Cox