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Tipping tip: In addition to the names on a gift-giving list, it's important to know what type of gift — not always cash — to give the special person who cares for kids, houses or pets.
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updated 12/12/2010 1:27:28 PM ET 2010-12-12T18:27:28

Who do you tip during the holidays? And how much? Ask 10 different people and you'll likely get 10 different answers. But, that's not necessarily a problem. The fact that there is no hard-and-fast rule for who and how much you should tip is actually a good thing.

Consider this: We haven't all been going to the same fabulous hairdresser for last 20 years and we don't all have a go-the-extra-mile garbage man who picks up all the loose trash from the ground when the wind knocks our can over in the middle of the night. On the other hand, we also do not all have an irritable newspaper carrier who regularly leaves us with a sopping mess because he doesn't bother to bag the paper when it's calling for rain.

In a nutshell, the reason there are no "set tipping amounts" is because the amount you tip or gift the service providers in your life needs to take into account the quality of service you receive, the depth of your relationship, the length of your relationship and of course, your budget.

But of course, there is value in knowing what experts say you should tip or what your neighbors are tipping. Once you know these customary or guideline amounts, you can then scale them up or down depending on the factors we list above.

So without further ado, we share etiquette expert Emily Post's tipping recommendations, findings from Consumer Reports' 2010 tipping survey and WalletPop's own two cents to help you determine who to tip and how much.

More from Walletpop: What you need to know about a Groupon as a holiday gift

CLEANING PERSON
Emily Post recommends: Tip up to the amount of one week's pay and/or small gift.

CR Survey finds: 66 percent do tip them; total median value of $35.

WalletPop says: If you're still able to outsource your house-cleaning duties during these tough economic times, realize you're one of the fortunate. It's likely your cleaning person has seen their business shrink dramatically over the last couple of years as previous clients have lost their jobs or tightened their proverbial belts. When you're divvying up your holiday-tipping budget, we think this is a great place to be generous, especially if your queen (or king) of clean is self-employed.

CHILD'S TEACHER
Emily Post recommends: A small gift (not cash) or note from you, as well as a small gift from your child.

CR Survey finds: 60 percent do tip them; total median value of $20

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WalletPop says: Unless you know your child's teacher really well, skip any gifts that are too personal, like perfume or clothes. Likewise, do not even consider one of those "World's Best Teacher" or "apple" tchotkes! (Can you imagine how many any given teacher receives of those year after year?) What do teachers love to receive most? Gift cards, gift cards and oh, how about a gift card? Personalized stationary and books for their classroom also ranked high on the list of teachers we spoke to.

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HAIRDRESSER
Emily Post recommends:
For beauty salon staff, the cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. Give individual gift cards or a small gift each for those who work on you.

CR Survey finds: 48 percent do tip them; total median value of $20

WalletPop says: Salon visits can be pricey. Unless you are going for a cut-rate trim, chances are you are spending upwards of $75 per visit (and that's a modest estimate) if you are having your hair cut and colored on a regular basis. So what's a good alternative to tipping the equivalent of one salon visit, when that figure could be $75, $100 or more? We like the idea of doubling your tip at the appointment closest to the holidays. Make sure to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" when giving your tip, so that your stylist knows your extra generosity is your holiday thank you.

NEWSPAPER CARRIER
Emily Post recommends:
$10-$30 or a small gift

CR Survey finds: 39 percent do tip them; total median value of $15

WalletPop says: How much you tip should take into account how often you get your paper delivered. Do you get your paper delivered daily or only on Sundays? An alternative way to figure out your tip is to base it on the equivalent of one month's subscription fee.

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MANICURIST
Emily Post recommends:
For beauty salon staff, the cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. Give individual gift cards or a small gift each for those who work on you.

CR Survey finds: 38 percent do tip them; total median value of $15

WalletPop says: If you get weekly manicures, you've likely engaged in lots of idle chatter with your manicurist week after week. Perhaps you've learned she is a Starbucks freak or has a real sweet tooth. WalletPop thinks this is a good opportunity to use that knowledge to gift your manicurist with something affordable and appropriate.

BARBER
Emily Post recommends:
Cost of one haircut or a gift.

CR Survey finds: 34 percent do tip them; total median value of $10

WalletPop says: Many barbers work on a self-employed basis, and with the tough economic environment forcing mom-and-pop shops to close left and right, we have a real soft spot for those still making a go of it. In addition, barber visits tend to be much less costly than salon visits, so if you can spare the cost of one haircut as your holiday tip (or more), we say go for it.

PET-CARE PROVIDER
Emily Post recommends:
For a groomer, up to the cost of one session or a gift. For a dog walker, up to one week's pay or a gift.

CR Survey finds: 27 percent do tip them; total median value of $20

WalletPop says: For pet groomers, you may want to tip if it's the same person caring for your furry one all year. However, if it's a business with multiple employee and not someone with a close connection to your pooch or kitty, we think this could be one tip to cut — if your purse is feeling pinched. On the other hand, for a dedicated dog walker who takes good care of your four-legged friend, we think a gift card to a coffee house or local business is a good idea to show your appreciation.

LAWN-CARE PROVIDER
Emily Post recommends:
For yard or garden workers, $20-50 each

CR Survey finds: 23 percent do tip them; total median value of $25

WalletPop says: Reserve these tips for those lawn-care or gardening workers who you have an established ongoing relationship with. If you pay to have your grass cut a couple of times in the summer or when you are away, no tip is necessary.

MAIL CARRIER
Emily Post recommends:
Small gifts up to $20 in value.

CR Survey finds: 21 percent do tip them; total median value of $20

WalletPop says: While the U.S. Postal Service's official stance is that mail carriers may not accept cash, checks, gift cards or any other form of currency, the practice of receiving cash gifts is so commonplace that most carriers come to depend on this year-end "bonus." It appears that many in Post Office management look the other way when it comes to enforcing this no-currency policy.

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GARBAGE COLLECTOR
Emily Post recommends:
$10-$30 or a small gift

CR Survey finds: 11 percent do tip them; total median value of $20

WalletPop says: Collecting other people's trash can be a stinky, messy, thankless task. If you're happy with the service you're receiving from your garbage man or men, you may not want to forget them when creating your "who-to-tip?" list.

If you are a city dweller, there are many more service personnel to consider tipping at the holidays: doormen, garage attendants, elevator operators. Likewise, parents may want to show monetary appreciation to babysitters and nannies. You can find tipping guidelines for those folks and more at EmilyPost.com.

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