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Angie's List: Tip Your Service Provider

It can always be a tough issue over the holidays; to tip or not to tip a landscaper or hairstylist.

Tipping is a topic many of us wrestle with throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season.

But, trying to figure out who to tip and how much can be confusing.

"This time of year the question of tipping your service company comes up really often. Most people automatically think I need to pay cash. What they don't realize is there are lots of other options. For example, I think one of the most powerful ways to say thank you to a provider to write a nice letter to their company telling them what great service they provided to you throughout the year," Founder Angie Hicks said.

"The general rule with tipping at a salon is that there are no rules about tipping, in general. We are similar to the restaurant business where around 20 percent is generally what's accepted. But I would say that tips often reflect how well we do our job," Salon Owner Jennifer Barker said.

Tipping is pretty standard in the restaurant and personal services industries.

But what about people who help with your home - like your plumber or handyman? Do they expect tips?

"I would say maybe a quarter to a half of our business that gives us either my company or my workers tips. It's not expected necessarily, but we always appreciate it," Landscaper Ryan Curry said.

Angie's List says you don't always have to give a gift of cash to show your gratitude.

"Tips come in many different forms. I've had a customer's oftentimes, I've had customers cook us dinner, we've been given sports tickets," Hicks said.

"The best form of appreciation that customers can show me is by having me back for more projects at their own property in the near future and also just referrals to friends, family, neighbors," Ryan Curry said.

"If you are working so busily from morning till night sometimes that extra homemade Christmas candy is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to 4 o'clock and you haven't had lunch," Barker said.

You should never feel obligated to tip, but if you decide too, talk with the company owner first to make sure it's okay. Some companies don't allow their employees to accept tips.

Holiday-related services:

·         Contractors who help hang your decorations, lights, etc.: A tip of $20 to $50 for the crew may be in order, based on the complexity of the task.

·         Bag boys or others who help carry your packages to your car: A tip of $1 per package/bag may be in order, though probably no more than $5.

·         Personal shoppers/concierge/errand services: A tip of 15 to 20 percent is recommended, possibly more, depending on the complexity or amount of work you have them do for you. Some of these services will do shopping, gift wrapping, mailing of gifts, etc.

·         Event entertainment: A tip of 15 to 20 percent is appropriate for Santa impersonators, carolers or musicians.

Year-round services:

·         Yard workers, handymen, etc.: A tip of $20 to $50 may be in order depending how often they visit your home.

·         Housecleaners: Many suggest $25 to $50, a day’s pay, or a gift of equal value. If you use a service that sends a different housecleaner each time, this may not be necessary, unless you ask them to do some one-time tasks to help you prepare for the holidays – such as helping unpack and put up decorations, a deep cleaning before a party, etc.

·         Childcare providers: For babysitters, the recommendation is a gift at the holidays from your kids, plus one or two nights’ pay. For a full-time nanny, one to four weeks’ pay plus a small gift from your kids is appropriate. For standard childcare providers, a gift at the holidays and $25 to $75 each. This may not be appropriate for some pre-Kindergarten child care/education providers. Check with the manager of the facility to see what’s appropriate, which might be a small gift from your kids.

·         Mail and paper delivery:  Though the U.S. Postal Service frowns on gratuities and gifts for mail carriers, authorities request that the gift or gratuity be $20 or less.  For daily newspaper delivery, a holiday tip of $15 to $25 is appropriate


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