Holiday Tipping: Giving Something Extra to Service Providers Who Help Throughout the Year

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ADEL, Iowa — We are used to tipping people like wait staff regularly, but when it comes to the end of the year do you tip your service providers a little something extra? If so who do you tip and how much?

These are common questions during this festive season. There are so many different service providers that people rely on throughout the year. Channel 13’s Whitney Blakemore sat down with a local etiquette expert, Dr. Patricia Tice, the owner of Etiquette Iowa, to find out what’s best practice for holiday tipping.

Dr. Tice said there’s no perfect answer for holiday tipping, but generally, anyone you want to thank and show gratitude towards for helping you throughout the year can receive a holiday tip. She said typical service providers who receive holiday tips are people like your newspaper deliverer and your child’s teacher.

Even someone like your hair or nail stylist can receive a holiday tip, though, if you tip them regularly, it is not necessary to give them an extra one at the end of the year. Dr. Tice said these holiday tips can add up fast, depending on how many services you use, but there’s other ways to show gratitude without breaking the bank.

“If you don’t have a lot of money to pay them a tip, give them a little bag of cookies with a thank you note. For your child’s teacher, have your child pick out a little gift and write a little note, ‘thank you for helping me learn my math facts,’ or whatever and give it to them. There’s always a thoughtful way that you can thank someone without giving them money,” Dr. Tice said.

According to, many Americans are starting to become more reluctant to holiday tipping. They said 60 percent never tip their mail carrier, and 70 percent don’t tip their trash collector.

In a Channel 13 Facebook poll, 57 percent of viewers said they do participate in holiday tipping because the service providers deserve it, while 43 percent said they felt it isn’t necessary. Dr. Tice said she believes the decline in the end of year gifts is due to people feeling they don’t have time to do it.

“If they are thinking about giving a tip, either in the form of money or a small gift, or a bag of homemade cookies, something along that line, the reward of altruism that you feel when giving a small gift for someone else really makes it worthwhile,” Dr. Tice said. “So even if you think you don’t have the time, try to carve out some time and do something nice for someone and you’ll be amazed at how good it makes you feel. That’s really is what tipping is all about.”

Etiquette Iowa’s Guide to Holiday Tipping:

Babysitter, regular: One evening’s pay, plus a small gift from your child.

Child’s Teacher: Check school’s policy first. Give a gift, not cash. Consider gift certificates to a bookstore or restaurant or a gourmet food item.

Day Care Provider: $25-$70 each, and/or a small gift from your child for the providers who give direct care to your child(ren).

Hair/Nail Stylist: The cost of one week’s pay and/or a gift.

Dog Walker: One week’s pay and/or gift.

Fitness Trainer: Up to the cost of one session.

Housekeeper/cleaner: Up to one week’s pay and/or a gift.

Letter Carriers: U.S. government regulations permit carriers to accept gifts worth up to $20 per occasion, not cash.

Live-in Help (Nanny, Housekeeper, Cook, and Butler): One week’s to one month’s salary based on tenure and customs in your area, plus a personal gift.

Newspaper Carrier: $10-#30.

Pet Groomer: If the same person grooms your pet all year, up to one session’s fee and/or a gift.

Yard and Garden Worker: $20-$50.

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