At the holidays not only do we buy gifts for family and friends, but many people like to say thank you to those individuals who have made their lives easier throughout the year. I have always been told that it’s unnecessary to tip a business owner, that you only tip employees. As a business owner myself I have never expected tips and while I have been given tips and gifts I always make it known that its not expected.

So who do you tip and how much? It is customary to tip:

  • Regular Babysitter
  • Full-time Nanny/Au Pair
  • Day care staff/Teacher/Coach/Tutor
  • Doorman/Concierge
  • Building Superintendent
  • Dog Walker/Groomer
  • Hairstylist
  • Manicurist
  • Cleaning Service – if you have the same person(s) all the time
  • Home Health Aide

The first step in deciding what to give is to find out if the recipient’s employer allows them to accept gifts. If they can accept gifts, are they allowed to accept cash, is there an upper limit on the value of the gift they are allowed to accept? In some cases as with teachers, its more customary to give a gift rather than cash and the school my put a cap on the value of the gift they can receive.

While its customary to give cash to service providers like hair stylists, nannies, au pairs, and pet care professionals, if you’ve really gotten to know these people you might be aware of a particular hobby or interest that brings to mind a special gift or gift card for a particular store. Anyone interested in the iPad, iPhone, iPod etc. will happily accept a gift card to the Apple Store. Someone constantly on the go and a coffee drinker will likely appreciate a gift card from their favorite coffee place. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, cash or a gift. Should you find the perfect gift but want to spend more than it costs, there’s no reason you can’t add cash or a check to the gift.

So how much should you give? There are lots of recommendations for how much to give from the price of a haircut to a week’s pay for a full-time nanny. It really depends on what you can afford and you shouldn’t bust your budget trying to give what every one else is giving.