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Holiday Tipping Guide: Who Gets What and How Much

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2007 | 1:16 PM ET

It’s the most puzzling of holiday traditions: Who gets a tip and how much?

End-of-year tipping always causes “huge panic,” says Rachel Weingarten, author of business etiquette and career guide "Career and Corporate Cool." The number of service providers in the lives of Americans has become so long that holiday tipping “has become out of control.” Weingarten adds, “people don’t know how to rein it in anymore.”

Panic is unnecessary, says Stacie Krajchir, author of “The Itty Bitty Guide to Tipping.” She says the best way to simplify your list is to focus on just those who “have made your life easier” over the past year, and have provided excellent service.

Deciding how much to tip depends on what region of the country you live. A ten dollar tip in a small town may be acceptable, but in a larger city, that amount may come across as insulting.

To get a better gauge on an appropriate tip, experts suggest asking neighbors and others who may utilize the same services. Below is a list of people you should consider tipping, and an average amount suggested by several etiquette experts:

Home Care:
If you live in an apartment building, doormen and superintendents should be tipped $20-$100 depending on how much of a high maintenance tenant you are. If you’re constantly getting packages and dry cleaners delivered, skew higher. Housekeepers should get the equivalent of one week's pay.

Lawn Care & Trash Collectors:
Trash collectors and lawn crews should receive $15-$20 for each person in the team.

Child Care & Teachers:
Full-time nannies should get the equivalent of one weeks pay and part-time nannies get one session. For teachers, experts agree you should avoid cash all together. Instead give a gift worth about $20-$25.

Personal Care:
Hair stylists that you visit all year long should get the equivalent of one hair cut. Personal trainers typically receive the cost of one session.

Mail, Package, and Newspaper Delivery:
The United States Post Office, FedEx, and UPS have rules that prohibit their employees from receiving monetary gifts. Instead, experts suggest giving a gift valued at $20 or less. Weekday newspaper carriers should receive $15-$25, and $5-$15 for the weekend carrier.

Home Businesses:
If you’re running a small business from home, Weingarten recommends remembering those you have a “virtual relationship” with like a helpful IT person you call frequently to help with critical computer issues. A $20 gift card from an online store like amazon.com or iTunes will show you appreciate their help.

Just as important as the amount you give is how you give the tip. Krajchir stresses that you should "always write a handwritten note" on a nice piece of paper that specifies what you're thankful for.

And if you still happen to forget someone? Don’t fret says Oliver Mims, host of online manners and etiquette show properollie.tv: "You can go back later” after the holidays, apologize for your forgetfulness, and hand them the tip. They should have no problem accepting it.

If you’re still dreading handing over your cash, just remember this: the tip you give now, says Weingarten, will “get you better service next year."

For more details on who to tip this holiday season, check out the holiday tipping slideshow.

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