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TIPS: ‘To Insure Proper Service’.

December 16, 2010

Happy Holidays!  On the topic of Tipping etiquette one thing is for sure,  tipping  is an important custom in our country.  We must use this time of year to thank people who have served us, particularly if they have served us well and gone above and beyond.

Thanking people for taking care of you has a double reward. The reward of giving and the reward of receiving again!  Remember TIPS is an acronym for ‘To Insure Proper Service’.  Here are some etiquette guidelines to share with your neighbors…

  • Do more for those who do more for you.
  • Tip about the amount you pay for their services. If you use a babysitter once a week, tip the equivalent of one night. For a nanny who works five days a week, then I’d tip a week’s salary — plus a small gift  from the child.
  • Averages and ranges can vary based on the type of establishment (luxury condo), regional customs (New York, ATL, ChiTown major markets!), and your own budget.

If your budget is tight this year, cutting back on tipping may be what you  need to do.  You must still make sure you express your appreciation in some way to the folks who make your life easier.  Don’t feel guilty for giving less or not giving at all.  It is what it is, but there are other kind gestures including the almost extinct handwritten note, the heartfelt handmade gift or treat, the kindness of a generous eye to eye ‘thank you for all you do’ that may suffice, this year. If you can tip,  here are a few suggestions from your personal Protocol and Etiquette Consultant!

  • Prioritize your most important service providers. If someone’s work makes your life dramatically better, that person should be at the top of your holiday tipping list. The trusted house cleaner, the doorman that helps your daughter when she comes in late,  the garage attendant that lets you park near the door and adds Armor All to your tires! They should get more of your holiday tipping resources than service providers you use infrequently or who are not as passionate about their jobs and you.
  • Don’t skimp on your employees. If you have household workers, such as a nanny, a housekeeper or a caretaker for an elderly relative, the holiday bonus is often considered part of the employee’s compensation.  It all depends on your past practices, what’s customary in your area and what you promised when you hired the person, of course, but withholding or shortchanging the bonus could be considered a cut in pay and you could wind up losing a valued worker because of it.
  • Tip strategically. If you live in a building with a doorman, superintendent or both, failing to tip can lead — unfortunately — to bad service. The higher the customary tip, the less likely a plate of cookies will cut it. Talk to your neighbors to see what the going rate is and try to come close to that figure to make sure your packages still get delivered and your friends can get into the building.
  • It’s OK to consider need. The lower-paid the worker, the more holiday tips are likely to be appreciated — and the bigger impact your gift can have. Your tip to a manicurist or gardener may be a bigger deal than the same-sized token to a package-delivery person.
  • If you tip generously all year, you can skimp a bit. A smaller tip or a modest gift at the holidays is fine.
  • A note should accompany any tip. Your message doesn’t have to be elaborate, but should include a couple of sentences thanking the person for his or her good work and wishing a happy holiday.

Housekeeper or Cleaner: Cash and/or a gift.
Personal trainer: Cash or gift
Livein help (Au  Pair or Nanny): One week’s pay and a gift from your child(ren).
Live-in help (Cook, Butler, Housekeeper): One week to one month of pay as a cash tip,  plus a gift from you.
Handyman: $15-$20
Doorman: $50-$80 for a doorman; $15-$20 each for multiple doormen
Superintendent: $20-80 or a gift
Garage attendants: $10-30 or a small gift
Gardeners: $20-$50
Favorite waiter or waitress or delivery person: Be generous, they survive on tips
Hairdresser or Manicurist: The price of a service

Protocol and Etiquette Consultant appreciates the opportunity to serve and even more, hearing from you!

Happy Holidays to you and to your neighbors and to those who care for all of you!

Cheryl Walker-Robertson is Chief Protocol Office of Protocol International. Protocol International is a service company that specializes in training and image enhancement through workshops, seminars and one-on-one coaching. Visit to learn more.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. jim nellis permalink
    January 19, 2011 6:28 PM

    All great advice Cheryl. However, your grammar is incorrect. The verb, ‘to insure’ only relates to insurance – that is, protecting something from loss. Most of the time, people mean to use the verb ‘to ensure’, which means as in your case above, ‘to make certain of something.’

    • Sandee permalink
      August 27, 2013 9:32 PM

      Sorry Jim,
      Her grammar is correct;

      Synonym Discussion of ENSURE

      ensure, insure, assure, secure mean to make a thing or person sure. ensure, insure, and assure are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitable of an outcome, but ensure may imply a virtual guarantee , while insure sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand , and assure distinctively implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person’s mind . secure implies action taken to guard against attack or loss .

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