Holiday tipping trends: Spreading the holiday spirit with some cold, hard cash

Posted at 6:59 AM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-07 11:36:20-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — From babysitters to barbers, personal trainers to teachers, to tip or not to tip at the end of the year has become a huge question for many.

So, I went out to ask people what their thoughts are when it comes to end-of-the-year "holiday tips."

“You know, people work hard. It’s the holiday season. You got to be generous, and you got to give back a little bit,” said Emily Bielak, Troy resident who’s in favor of holiday tipping.

Layla Cooks, a Southfield resident who is also in favor of holiday tipping said, “Some people, they already don’t make enough money to buy everything. So, it’s like here’s a little something extra to get yourself something extra for the holidays, too.”

I also also spoke with service industry workers about their views on tipping.

“Do you get many people who tip your employees at the end of the year? I asked Royal Oak nail salon owner Binh Hoang.

“Yes, like, not everybody. But most of them do. So, it make [sic] us very happy,” Hoang said.

For Southfield barista Bryanna Joseph, tipping is important — especially this time of year.

“I definitely think so. It’s like a little holiday bonus in a sense for them,” Joseph told me.


What are the expectations? What's appropriate? When should I give a gift-versus-cash? And How much are we talking about?

I turned to an etiquette guru for some guidelines.

“If you have to cut back, end-of-year tipping is not where you should be trimming your budget,” said Jodi R. R. Smith.

Jodi R. R. Smith is an etiquette expert and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Boston.


“What is the general rule of thumb for who should be receiving an end-of-the-year tip?” I asked her.

“Yeah. So, these are all of the people that usually you pay hourly or by the job,” Jodi R R Smith explained.

For example, hair stylists, personal trainers, nail technicians, housekeepers, lawn mowers, babysitters, pet walkers and more.

As for teachers and coaches, Jodi R R Smith recommends a group gift from the parents in the form of a gift card or gift certificate to a local restaurant or business.


People need to budget. So, I had to ask, “What is the amount you should be tipping at the end of the year?”

“If you are going regularly every month to your manicurist, to your hairstylist, to your back specialist, whoever it happens to be, then tipping them the same amount that you would pay for one service is a great way to go,” Smith advised.

But she added if you only utilized the individual's services sporadically, add up what you spent with them over the entire year, then tip 10-15% of that total.


Smith said you should tip as soon as you can or anytime after Thanksgiving and up to New Year’s Day. But if finances are tight, she says tipping by the Super Bowl is acceptable.

But not everybody can accept money.

For example, U.S. Postal Service and FedEx workers are not allowed to accept money. And UPS drivers are encouraged to say ‘no.’
So, some people put together a basket of goodies with a note saying 'thank you' and instructions to ‘please help yourself.’

'Tis the season of giving!