Giving a holiday tip shows your appreciation to people who provide a service to you on a regular basis throughout the year. But what about tipping your hairstylist? Your manicurist? The doctor who puts Botox in your crow's feet 3 times a year?
Who to tip and how much is debatable. Here, we run down the basic rules for holiday tipping beauty professionals.
Who to Tip and Who Not toDuring the holidays, it's appropriate to tip anyone who beautifies you on a daily basis. This includes your regular hairstylist, waxer, manicurist, eyebrow specialist, massage therapist, facialist and personal trainer. No need to tip the doctor who does your cosmetic filler or Botox.
If you only see someone once or twice a year, you're off the hook, there's no need to tip. Tips are reserved as a thank you to those with whom you have an actual relationship.
You can give the tip or gift during your December or early January visit. If you don't schedule a visit during the holidays, you might consider dropping off a small gift of thanks, but you aren't obligated.
How Much to TipSo how much to tip these pros? If you search online for holiday tips, you'll get a variety of conflicting answers. The Emily Post Institute recommends you give a gift or tip up to the cost of one visit to hairstylists and beauty professionals. This advice has been repeated over and over in media and it has always confounded me because if I were to tip everyone up to the cost of a service I'd be spending $1000 on holidays tips alone. My hair costs $600 for cut and color each visit. There's no way I am expected to tip that. I don't spend that much on my boyfriend!
My advice is to ignore the "up to the cost of a service" etiquette advice. One should only tip up to the cost of one visit if one does not tip regularly throughout the year. Maybe Beyonce, who has a style posse, doesn't tip throughout the year, but who doesn't tip their hairstylist, waxer or manicurist on every visit?
Still, the advice online regarding holiday tips is conflicting. Etiquette expert Peter Post tells the New York Times a holiday tip of $25 to $50 is fine for hairdressers you tip throughout the year, while Bonnie Bonadeo, director of education for the Professional Beauty Association, tells O, the Oprah Magazine, an extra 5 percent on top of your normal tip is the average gift across the board.
My rule of thumb is this: If you tip regularly throughout the year, an extra 5-10 percent on top of your normal 15-20% tip is appropriate. Put the tip in a holiday card with a personalized note and you're good to go.
If you don't tip throughout the year (who tips their personal trainer?), give them a tip or a gift that's equivalent up to the cost of one service. This same advice pertains to the people outside of your beautification rituals: your dog walker, your nanny and your doorman.
Cash or Gifts?Depending on where you live, cash or an actual gift may be the preferred holiday thank you. In my research, I've found cash is usually preferred in larger cities. But in smaller towns, use the protocol of your area. A gift card, a nice bottle of sparkling wine or something homemade might suffice. If tips are not the norm in your area, a bag of homemade cookies will score you some big points for the next year.
Do the Rules Change in a Poor Economy?One should never feel uncomfortable or obligated to give a holiday tip, especially if they are hurting in a poor economy. Before you decide who to tip and how much, you should determine if you can even afford to tip and how much you're willing to spend.
People in the service industry will tell you that tips are never expected but always appreciated. If you can't afford a holiday tip or a gift, a card with a handwritten note should mean a lot to someone. In this economy, just having a regular customer to count on is a gift in itself.