Holiday Tipping Done Right

PHOTO: Holiday card with tip money
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A child-care provider, housekeeper and teacher are the three people most likely get a tip from families this holiday season, according to a Consumer Report survey on holiday tipping etiquette.

On the other hand, the garbage man is least likely to be tipped. Only 12 percent of of those surveyed will include sanitation workers on Santa's list during the holiday season.

For those who are able, here's some advice for creating a holiday tipping list: "Before you start considering who you're going to give holiday gifts to, identify what you can give and then look at the people that provide the service to you, and then begin to make some allocation to the people you most want to give a gift to," said Peter Post, an etiquette expert and a director at the Emily Post Institute.

"You have to decide those people that are most important to you and then you can allocate that budget."

As some gift-givers struggle with money because of a tough economy, creating a plan of action can help you you determine what is least likely to hurt your wallet.

For those unable to provide a gift or cash tip, expressing gratitude with a card or note is one of the greatest gifts one can give. And it's free.

"We don't ever advise people to go into debt to tip and we don't expect people to live beyond their means," Post said, adding that he recommends giving a card using your words to express your appreciation.

While explicitly stating why you cannot give is unnecessary, Post recommends writing a note along these lines but from the heart:

"Thanks for so much for all you've been able to do. It's a very tough year; I hope to be able to do more for you next year."

Or,

"Thank you. I wish I could do more but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate everything you have done."

Don't fret, gift-givers, there's also an updated Tipping Guide for you based on advice from our etiquette experts.

Here is starting point on what to tip:

The Nanny

A gift from the child and one week's pay is recommended by tipping experts. "Tip right before they take off for Christmas," Wendy Sachs, editor-in-chief of Care.com, said. "If they leave without a tip, they may be very disappointed, and may not come back."

The Babysitter

For the occasional babysitter, consider giving a holiday gift of one day's pay and make sure to include a gift from the child, which could be anything from a painting to a card.

The Day-Care Provider

The Emily Post Institute recommends a gift or cash gift valued between $25 and $75. And, like the babysitter and the nanny, a gift from the child is also highly recommended.

The Boss

No gift. No cash. It might seem harsh for those motivated to give to any and all but experts state that giving to an employer might be seen as bribery. "Giving a gift to an employer is a mistake," Post said. If you want to get together with your fellow employees, that's great. The problem with individual gifts is it can become a competition."

To avoid competitive gift giving, Post recommends employees consider a group gift.

The Teacher, The Doctor and Other Professionals

While some etiquette experts recommend shelling out for a gift with a price tag of about $25, Post recommends that parents be cautious when giving gifts to a teacher, doctor, nurse or any other professional. "Check with the school to see if they have any policies on gift giving," Post said. "If the school doesn't have a policy, check with the class or parent organization to see if there is anything being done as a group. The goal is to take competitiveness out of gift giving.

The Office Assistant

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