Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday tipping

Well! It looks like it's Holiday Week around here, so, um, even though it was unintentional, let's just go with it, OK? Because yesterday our newspaper came with a little envelope in it, containing a holiday card from our newspaper carrier, but clearly the holiday card is out of pure politeness because the envelope containing the card was addressed to the paper carrier.

I mean, it's my understanding that this is pretty standard practice, and I had actually been thinking about it and sort of expecting it, so I wasn't surprised or anything.

And, you know, our paper carrier gets up at the crack of dawn every day to deliver our paper, even when there's over a foot of snow outside and most of the roads aren't plowed, and I assume that he isn't paid very much to do it. So, I want to give him a good tip. But I have no idea what that would be.

I like to tip and I prefer to tip well, while simultaneously not breaking the bank. I did some Googling and found answers ranging from $10 to $50 for people who receive papers 7 days a week (as we do). So, I was thinking $25? Is that reasonable? I want to be generous and I really have no idea what generous is, and also we are trying really hard to save money so while I want to be generous, I also don't want to kill the semblance of a budget that we have going on.

And, also, can I assume that this is just the first of many people to tip this holiday season? I am trying to think of who else we might tip. The mail carrier? I read that they are prohibited from accepting more than $20 in cash... but does that mean that we can leave them a tip of $20 or less? Is that standard and/or expected? And doesn't the post office do some kind of canned food drive at the holidays?

In past years when we lived in an apartment, there was always a collection by the tenants' association to tip the front desk staff, but now we're in a house so I guess that's out. But there must be other people, right? People I'm not thinking of?

Basically, this whole homeowner/grown-up thing is, you know, new and I have no idea how to handle it. But that's why I have a blog, right? Help me here, please. Who do you tip at the holidays, and how much?

28 comments:

  1. I don't tip anyone at the holidays. Our mail carrier gets a nice warm building in which to sort and deliver mail, we don't get the paper or any other delivery and I'm not getting a lot of orders for Christmas this year so no need to friendly up the UPS or FedEx guys. Besides that, the paperboy last year stole $20 from me and so I didn't get the paper for as long as I had ordered it for, so I see no need to ever order it again. ;)

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  2. I'm with October Wife, but for different reasons. I don't feel I HAVE to tip at the holidays. I buy gifts or gift cards for our cleaning lady and dog walker, because I like both of them. This year, I'll likely give our mail lady something small - because I see her a few times a week and she's always friendly (I've never given a mail delivery person anything prior to this year, though). And I'll likely tip a little extra to my hair stylist when I see him next.

    As far as your $25 goes, I think that's more than appropriate.

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  3. ooh, I want to see the answers too! I have never heard of tipping the mail carrier...

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  4. Hmmm I don't tip anybody but I don't get the paper, I live in an apartment and never even see the mail carrier, I don't have a nanny/dog walker/housekeeper/etc. I hadn't thought about hairstylist but I only see her about twice a year and always tip generously when I get my hair cut. I can't think of anybody else...

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  5. I think it's standard practice in large cities - NYC- where everyone has a doorman and a mail carrier and the like. Our mailbox is in a group, with all the other homeowners near our community pool. I never even see my mailcarrier and last year our mailcarrier was fired because she was only delivering mail like every third day!

    We only get the Sunday paper and I've never tipped either.

    I'm thinking it may be a metropolitan thing ... maybe we southerners just don't do that- but we bake a lot of cookies to hand out!

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  6. I thought that USPS was prohibited from accepting any monetary gift, and a material gift needs to be of less than $20 value. But they might have changed that. We tipped our milk man last year (don't remember how much, maybe $10? It was a once a week delivery), and tipped our dog walker a week's pay.

    I try to tip more generously over the holiday season for regular things - pedicures, haircuts, etc. But otherwise, we just are nice year round and hope that covers us.

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  7. And $25 sounds more than sufficient for the paper, and we don't tip our mail carrier (but we have a community box).

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  8. I think we'll tip the paper boy about that much. But I can't think of anyone else. I plan to fix up a nice box of cookies for our mailman, who is the nicest mailman in the world, but I can't imagine BUYING him anything.

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  9. Growing up, I remember my parents tipping our mailman. In my condo we have a mail slot in my door, so I'm not sure how I'd go about giving the mail carrier a tip. Plus I'm not sure if it's always the same person. And whoever it was last year kept putting our mail in the wrong door, and we didn't get all of our wedding RSVPs.

    $25 seems fine.

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  10. In the past I have tried to tip garbage men; however, the last time I tried that, they didn't notice it (it was a check, fortunately) and they put it in the trash...so now I don't do that anymore. We tipped our milk delivery guys, when we got milk. I give gift cards to all my kids' teachers (but don't call that a tip!)

    I used to clean houses (in Colorado). Over Thanksgiving/ Christmas, out of a total of twenty or so houses cleaned, I got two cash tips, a plate of cookies, and a (horrible!! but thoughtful!!) ceramic kleenex-box holder in the shape of a snow-covered house.

    The cash was nice (and needed), but I liked the cookies best. I think I would have liked the cash more if ALL the places I cleaned had given out tips, so that I actually had a sizable sum at the end of the holiday--as it was, it sort of raised my sense of entitlement without providing much useful income.

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  11. huh. i have no idea. i don't get the paper; my mailbox is in a huge bank of boxes for the whole building; i get my hair cut like once a year and so far never from the same person twice; i don't have a dog. i, uh, tip my waiters nicely though..? :-)

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  12. When I had a paper route (first job) I got tipped anywhere from 5 to 15? I think? around the holidays. Of course, I didn't have to trudge through snow seeing as we lived on West Coast. So your 25$ is more than appropriate.

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  13. We usually tip the garbage man. I usually put $20 in a card and tape it to the top of the trash can lid. I was really glad I did it the year before when I caught them giving our outside dog a biscuit a couple weeks in a row. I thought that was so nice of them!

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  14. I'm so glad you did this post, because I was planning to give the mail carrier a gift card (she's a GREAT mail carrier and we've had the same one since we moved her 9 years ago), but I see Emily is right about them not being allowed to take money. In previous years I've given her a thing of nice candy, or wool socks, something that costs about $10---so maybe I'll do something similar this year.

    This year I'm planning to give the UPS guy a gift for the first time: we order a lot of stuff online. I'm thinking a $10 gift card.

    I give the school bus driver a gift at Christmas: she's been our driver since my firstborn started school, and she drops them off at our driveway even though the stop is at the next house down. I give a $10 gift card per kid---so, $20 this year when she drives two of my kids.

    I'm giving teachers each a $10 gift card.

    I got all the gift cards at Target, because I figure that kind of covers EVERYTHING: food, gifts, clothes, prescriptions, office supplies, WHATEVER.

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  15. I don't tip anybody for the holidays but that is because we don't really have anybody to tip--I've never even seen our mail carrier (the mailboxes are all in another part of the complex), we don't get the paper and I don't buy enough online to justify tipping the UPS guy (and the Fed Ex people just toss the packages at our door so that it'll make a loud noise and are always driving away by the time I get to door opened). I do, however, always tip very well in restaurants, 15% MINIMUM and that's if they do a horrible job, because servers get paid so badly and usually have to split their tips with everybody else working in the place.

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  16. I don't tip anyone. No one tips me to be a lawyer, and I get paid crap.

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  17. The only thing we do, which I don't consider tips but gifts, is get gift cards for my daughter's daycare/preschool teachers. I get Target because it's within a few blocks of the school and has a bit of everything - even if they use it for laundry detergent and kleenex I figure it's helpful. We give $50 to the head teacher and $15 each to the AM & PM helpers who are in her room 2 hours a day(there are 2 of them - so $80 total spent). I do the same thing at the end of the school year. I figure that the head teacher basically potty trained my child - whatever she gets paid isn't enough! My guess is the amount will go down as she gets older until it levels off around $25 or so.

    Our mail carrier never closes our mail box so our mail is always getting wet - no tip for them! And in other "usual" tipping situations (waiters, hairdressers, etc) I always tip at least 20% (30% for waiters if our kid acts up) so don't feel the need to up it at this time of the year. I never even considered tipping the trash crew...they are union so I figure they get decent wages.

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  18. I think $25 is a very generous tip. Most people I know of that want to tip the mailman, leave nice candy or cookies or somesuch. Usually boxed store bought ones are best so that they can eat them without worry if you don't have a personal relationship with them.

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  19. I tip my hair stylist only--I give him his normal tip and then an extra Christmas tip of at least twice the amount of the normal tip. I love him!

    Twenty five dollars for the paper boy seems generous to me! I don't get the paper, though.

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  20. It sounds reasonable to me! I know I will get a holiday card from the paper person soon, but honestly he throws an envelope in the paper about once a month, so I send something every once in a while. I'm about due, but if I'd sent something recently, I wouldn't do it again right away just because it's the holidays.

    The only other holiday tip I give is my hairdresser. I get my hair trimmed regularly, and tip well, but at the nearest cut to Christmas, I more or less double the usual. (She doesn't charge all that much, unlike my friends' stories of $200 cut-and-color!)

    I've never tipped the postal person, and given how often the mail is left at the wrong door, or they seem to miss a day, I'm not even sure we usually have the same one.

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  21. You know, I delivered papers for about 6 years in elementary school, got paid pennies, and never once got tipped. And I was an adorable little 10 year old!

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  22. I feel like it's pretty standard to tip. I know when I still lived at home, my parents always gave the mail carrier a simple card with $10-15 included. He was friendly, he was there every day, so it just made sense. I don't think you need to go crazy and spent lots though! I think a small token of appreciation is enough, really.

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  23. We tip the cleaning lady a good amount - probably about $75 - $90 at Christmas. But we have a good relationship with her and her regular rate is very low.

    I live in England and the postal workers are regularly on strike. They also deliver our mail to the wrong door most days. I dont see a tip in their future...

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  24. NFW would I tip the letter carrier! They are government employees - with regular hours, benefits, and days off, etc. Paper delivery person does it every friggin single day, making their own arrangements for days off, and are likely making peanuts.

    We finally have a consistent paper delivery person, so we do tip him (about $20). For a few years, we kept having different people every 6 months, so the Holiday tip was less.

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  25. I generously tipped my hair stylist last night, but have never tipped my mail delivery guy. We do put a lot of stuff in our mailbox for him to send out, but that IS his job? Although i guess with the probable post office layoffs, maybe he/she should be tipped just in case they are one of the unlucky ones?

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