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The Young Tightwad’s Guide to Holiday Tipping

‘Tis the season to be tipping, and that includes waiters, barbers, stylists, cab drivers, bartenders, baristas, doormen, valets and, sigh, the list goes on and on. “But wait! I’m stringy”, you say. “Scrooge hardly tipped, why-oh-why, should I?”

‘Tis the season to be tipping, and that includes waiters, barbers, stylists, cab drivers, bartenders, baristas, doormen, valets and, sigh, the list goes on and on. “But wait! I’m stringy”, you say. “Scrooge hardly tipped, why-oh-why, should I?”

Relax. You can enjoy the season of giving, including holiday tipping, without going broke. Like everything around the holidays, it’s the thought that counts, not the amount. Here are some holiday tipping guidelines to help you out:

Give holiday tips only to service providers you see on a regular basis.
Don’t feel like you have to leave a generous tip on every cab fare from now until New Year’s, but consider those you see on frequently. If you know their name, or they know yours, a holiday tip is in order. A special holiday tip, within your budget, is the perfect way to guarantee great service for another year.

Gift cards show additional thought.
While essentially the same as cash, giving a gift card as a holiday tip shows more forethought and appreciation than a higher amount of cash. Give the most generic gift cards possible, such as for groceries or gas, possibly coffee (but not to your barista!), to ensure they will be valued.

Give thank you notes. Blunt Money has the right idea by suggesting thank you notes. It’s the perfect way to add a personal touch to a holiday tip. Here’s an idea that will make your regular waiter’s day, for example. Buy a simple holiday thank you card for $0.99, write something like “It’s always nice to see you. Thank you.” Leave the card, along with twice your regular tip or $10, whichever is greater, the next time you dine.

Don’t go overboard.
We’ve all read the stories of some Manhattan doormen earning enormous sums from holiday tips. It’s nice for them, but that level of tipping is as much about showing off the giver’s wealth as it is about showing appreciation. In most cases, doubling or tripling your usual tip is ideal. For barbers, trainers, babysitters or other personal service providers, tips should not exceed the cost of one haircut/session/evening, etc.

About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.