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Holiday Tipping Guide: Who Do We Tip the Most

Octavio Blanco

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When it comes to getting a holiday tip some service providers are definitely treated better than others.

Housekeepers were the most often tipped service provider. They also earned the highest gratuity, getting a median annual tip of $50, according to Consumer Reports latest survey results on holiday gratuities.

On the low end of the tip spectrum were manicurists and garbage collectors. They each earned a median annual tip of $20.

Garbage collectors got a particularly raw deal. Besides earning the lowest tip amounts, they were also the least likely to be tipped at all. Only 8% of respondents said they tipped their garbage collector in 2016.

Overall, the “typical tipper” living in the U.S. doled out a total of $40 during the 2016 holiday season.

But tip amounts tend to fluctuate depending on the service provider.

When considering how much to give, etiquette and tipping experts say a good place to start is giving a tip that’s equivalent to the cost of one service. If you feel you've recieved exemplary service throughout the year, it can go up from there.

Who should you tip?

Choosing who to tip can feel complicated, but it doesn't need to be, said Daniel Post Semming, spokesman for the Emily Post Institute and co-host of the awesome etiquette podcast.

"To simplify the process just consider service providers in key areas of your personal life," he said.

Think of the people who take care of your family, such as a nanny, or home health aide, those who take care of your home, like a housekeeper, or handyman, and those who help you look good, such as a stylist, barber, or personal trainer.

Also, remember that service providers can vary depending on where you live.

For example, Semming, who lives in rural Vermont, says he tips the person who plows his driveway when it snows, whereas someone who lives in a warmer climate might tip the person who cleans their swimming pool.  

A typical question for New Yorkers and other urban dwellers is how much to tip a doorman.

While Consumer Reports' survey doesn't capture enough data to generate a median tip amount figure for them, Leslie Yazel, editor in Chief of Real Simple, says tips for doormen can vary from $20 - $100, depending on the type of building and the level of service. 

Who you shouldn't tip

"When considering giving a tip, be careful when it comes to salaried professionals," Semming said. "Nurses and doctors, for example, are professionals who you shouldn't tip."

Many people like to give an annual tip to their child's teacher, usually in the form of a gift. Consumer Reports found that 44% of respondents reported giving teachers a gift.

However, Semming says you should beware when giving gifts to teachers. "You don't want to create the impression of any tit-for-tat, or that you're paying somone who is grading your kids," he said.

To show your appreciation Semming recommends collecting money for a gift that's from the entire class.

"Make sure it's clear it comes from everyone, whether they've contributed or not," he said. "The same goes in the office, if you're planning to give a gift to the boss," he said.



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