The holiday season is the perfect time to show that person who helps make your life easier -- from your lawn caretaker to your housekeeper -- how much you really appreciate them.
But it can get confusing. Who should you really be giving a tip to, anyway? And what if you can't afford to give every person a little extra? Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, told The Chicago Tribune that "a very soft guideline for those who need a starting place" on how much to tip is to give the cost of one service the person provides.
That, however, can range wildly, from a few bucks to a few hundred. So we turned to an expert of our own for more tips on tipping.
Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert and author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach says that the amount you give depends on how often you worked with someone and how helpful they were throughout the year. If your handyman helped you out occasionally during the year, you may want to give him $15, for example. But if he took on a big project, consider giving him $50. And depending on how well you know the person, you could even give them a little gift instead of cash.
Here are some more suggestions on what to give:
Word of Advice: Get organized. It's good to make a list of all the people who assist you on a regular basis and then plan out what you are going to get each of them or how much money you will be giving them. Create a budget and be aware that in some metropolitan areas, higher tipping amounts are expected. Plan accordingly on what you can spend.
Word of Advice: Make sure the person is allowed to receive tips or gifts. Whitmore notes that some housekeepers work for companies that may not allow tipping or gifts. Also, sanitation workers report to their city governments, and some cities do not allow tipping. Make sure you call the appropriate city government office to find out the regulations.
Word of Advice: Pick the most important people if you're on a budget. "If you ask me, the tipping expectations are quite high and more than the average person can pay," says Whitmore. "I would suggest taking your top three to five people and pay them first. Then you can decide who you want to tip after that."
Word of Advice: Always try to give the tip or gift in person and do so in a tasteful way. If you're giving cash, consider getting a money card or a classy envelope to enclose the bills in. "You never just want to hand someone a $20 bill," said Gottsman. Also, make sure the money you give is crisp and newer-looking, rather than giving crumply old bills. Always strive to give the gift yourself; it makes it more personal. "You get to say something like, 'Here's something for your family for the holidays,' and hand them a gift," says Whitmore.
Word of Advice: Give the tip anytime after Thanksgiving up until New Year's Day. They should be delivered before or on Christmas, but it's totally okay to give the person a gift after the holiday if that is the only time you see him or her.