Expert Tips on How Much to Tip This Holiday Season

From pet groomer to hair stylist, how much to tip everyone on your list.

— -- It's the season to start shelling out the tips. From your hairstylist to housekeeper, teacher to doorman, how much to tip everyone in your life often feels like a faux pas waiting to happen. It's time to bring in the experts.

Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Florida, offers these three tips, plus the dollar amount you should tip everyone on your list.

1. Give what you can. Tips are appreciated, but not mandatory. If your budget is limited, opt for a small gift and a thank you note. If you're unsure of who can receive tips, call the company and ask whether there are specific guidelines. Someone in management will also be able to tell you whether a cash tip or gift is more appropriate and what amount is customary.

2. Make a plan. Before you make a run to the bank, make a list of those people who have assisted you regularly. Once you know whom you'd like to thank, make a realistic budget of what you can afford to give. If you live in a major metropolitan area, the expected tipping range is slightly higher. Increase the tip for individuals with whom you have a friendship or those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

3. Hand-deliver your tip. When possible, deliver your gift in person accompanied by a handwritten card. Freshly printed, crisp bills are ideal. Gifts should be delivered on or before Dec. 25, but may be given whenever you have contact with the person during the holiday season.

And as for how much to give:

- Manicurist: $25 to $50 or a gift

- Hair stylist: $50 to $100 or a gift

- Barber: up to the cost of one haircut or a gift

- Personal trainer: up to the cost of one session or a gift

- Housekeeper: up to the cost of one visit

- Au pair or live-in nanny: one or two week's pay and a gift from your children

- Teacher: A gift card or gift certificate for up to $25, or pitch in with some of the other parents and buy a more expensive gift certificate

- Day-care provider: $20 to $70 each, plus a small gift from your child

- Babysitter: an evening's pay, plus a gift from your child

- Massage therapist: up to the cost of one session or a gift

- Superintendent: $20 to $80 or a gift, depending on how helpful your super has been to you

- Doorman: $15 to $100

- Mail carrier: small gift or gift card up to $20

- Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30

- Sanitation worker: $10 to $30 each for private service; check your local municipality for regulations, as some areas may not allow tipping

- Yard or Garden Worker: $20 to $50 or a gift card

- Handyman: $15 to $50 or a gift card

- Pool cleaners: up to the cost of one cleaning or gift card

- Dog walker: up to one week's pay or a gift

- Pet Groomer: up to the cost of one session or a gift