Finding a way to give to every name on your list this holiday season can be a challenge, especially on the tight budgets that accompany a tough economy. But one thing you should prioritize is the holiday gratuity to the people who walk your dog, cut your hair, and even deliver packages to your front door.
We asked two different etiquette experts—Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute and Diane Gottsman of the Protocol School of Texas—to give their guidelines on what and how much you should give.
Post and Gottsman urge you to think about the people who are often out of sight and out of mind, like garbage collectors, newspaper deliverers or other people who provide important services you may not be aware of right away.
While not mandatory, holiday gratuities and gifts show people you appreciate their service, raise morale and encourage loyalty.
"Think of this as an opportunity, not an obligation," Post said.
Click ahead to see whom to tip and how much you should give.
Au pair, babysitter, nanny
Suggested tip: One week's pay and a gift from your child(ren)
This person works with your family, and you likely know them well. Consider a gift, especially if the person lives with you.
Dog walkers and pet groomers
Dog walker: up to one week's pay
Pet groomer: up to the cost of one session
Experts say you can also give a gift valued at roughly the same amount as the cash tip. Adjust the value of the tip for how frequently you use this person's services. If you visit the pet groomer only a few times a year, the tip can be smaller.
Hair stylist or barber
Suggested tip: cost of one visit
Consider cash or a gift "commensurate to their good service," said Gottsman. If your stylists and manicurists work miracles, show them you appreciate it.
If your salon has different stations operated by different workers (i.e., colorist, washer), divide the suggested amount up in a way that reflects the contribution of each person.
If your hairdresser or salon is really pricey (like around $200 a visit), you might not need to tip the full amount, said Post. But don't cut it too short.
Gardener or landscaper
Suggested tip: varies
If you only have one gardener, then tip the cost of one visit or one week's work. If you have a crew, then $20 to $50 per person should suffice.
Suggested tip: up to one week's pay
You can also divide the tip among a crew if there is more than one person.
Suggested tip: the cost of one session or more
Some people are practically best friends with their trainers. If you have been training with the person for several months and see them at least once a week, consider tipping at least the cost of one session.
Package delivery or mail carrier
Suggested tip: small gift, up to $20 in value
The U.S. Postal Service does not allow any kind of cash gift, or any other form of currency. (That includes gift cards!) Most private delivery companies discourage or prohibit cash gifts, so check the policy, or stick with a small gift.
Apartment building staff
Suggested tip: $20 to $100 or a gift
If you live in a building with a doorman, don't forget to tip, especially if you receive a lot of packages, order a lot of pizza or have a lot of visitors.
Your building manager or superintendent may help out with repairs, move furniture, mediate with landlords or watch the place while you are gone. Treat them well!
Trash and recycling collectors
Suggested tip: $10 to $30 each
Offer a cash tip or gift (for private companies). Check city regulations if it is a municipal service.
Suggested tip: small gift from you and/or your child
Giving cash is not appropriate for teachers (or tutors or coaches, or anyone related to education). But they will all appreciate the gesture of a small, thoughtful gift.
Gottsman even gives something to her daughter's school lunch attendant. Her daughter has a peanut allergy, and the cafeteria workers routinely work to ensure Gottsman's daughter is safe.
Suggested tip: a thoughtful gift
These people may know you pretty well. They are often also pretty well paid. Stick with a meaningful gift that shows how much you appreciate their care.