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Sherri Richards, Published December 12 2012

Tips for holiday tipping

Fargo – ’Tis the season for giving thanks and giving gifts. Etiquette calls for one particular gift of thanks: a holiday tip for service providers.

It can be a murky area, as pointed out on etiquette guru Emily Post’s website. Professionals, including teachers, shouldn’t be tipped, but may be given small gifts. End-of-year cash tips to service providers are appropriate to show thanks for their service, though these providers can be given gifts instead of or in addition to a tip.

The amount of the tip depends on the quality and frequency of the service you receive, the relationship with the service provider, length of service and your own budget.

“First and foremost, you shouldn’t feel obligated to go beyond your personal budget,” the Emily Post website reads.

Any gift or tip should include a short handwritten note of thanks, it adds.

EmilyPost.com offers a chart for holiday tipping – holiday thanking, as the site refers to it – for various service providers.

For example, it suggests an evening’s pay for a regular baby sitter and a week’s pay for an au pair or live-in nanny, as well as a small gift from the child.

Personal trainers, massage therapists and pet groomers should be given a cash gratuity up to the cost of one session or a gift.

U.S. Postal Service mail carriers may not accept monetary gifts, including gift cards, and can only accept gifts worth $20 or less.

Jodi Ellingson with Hair Success in Fargo says local holiday tipping to stylists is in line with national trends, with customers tipping the cost of one service, whether that’s a haircut or pedicure.

Curt Christensen, circulation director for The Forum, says because newspaper carriers make their deliveries in the dark, people don’t always remember them at the holidays.

“It is a service, like any service provider that shouldn’t be forgotten,” Christensen says. “I know the carriers appreciate it.”

Some subscribers add a tip whenever they renew, he says. Others send it to the newspaper office, which passes it on to the carrier. Christensen says the tips that come through his office range from $20 to $50.

“I think that’s generous, but it’s not out of line,” he says.

Holly Saarion, parent services coordinator with Child Care Resource and Referral in Moorhead, says it’s more common in our area for parents to give day care providers gifts rather than cash.

“A lot of people don’t do tipping because they’re considered a small business,” Saarion says, adding that it could be considered extra income and be taxed.

Gifts cards are a common gift, she says. At day care centers, with multiple teachers, parents may give each teacher a smaller gift as a token of gratitude.

“I think a lot of parents just want to do it. I don’t think day care providers really expect it,” she says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556