Tipping Etiquette for the Holiday

Figuring Out Who to Tip Can be Confusing

Teamwork at the hair salon. Tip the team.
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When it comes to the holidays, who gets a tip and who doesn't can be confusing. Giving a holiday tip shows your appreciation to people who provide a service to you on a regular basis throughout the year. But when you list everyone who has helped you, the list can get long and tipping everyone is impractical.

Here, we run down the basic rules for holiday tipping beauty professionals.

Who to Tip and Who Not to

During the holidays, it's appropriate to give an extra holiday tip to anyone who beautifies you on a regular basis.

This includes your regular hairstylist, waxer, manicurist, eyebrow specialist, massage therapist, facialist and personal trainer. Their incomes are mostly reliant on tips, so it's kind to tip extra at the holidays. No need to tip the doctor who does your cosmetic filler or Botox.

If you only see someone a few times a year, 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 to do so.

How Much to Tip

How much should you tip professionals? Advice varies widely, from the cost of one visit to a percentage. To be on the safe side, plan on tipping an additional ten percent on top of your usual tip when you go in for a service.

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, 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?

In some parts of the country, holiday cash tips are the norm for doormen, newspaper delivery people, nannies, dog walkers and personal trainers.

But in other parts of the country, giving cash is uncommon. Instead, patrons may gift baked goods or small items.

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 a flailing economy, just having a regular customer to count on is a gift in itself.

    Essential reading:

    • 14 Holiday Nail Trends We Fell For
    • Holiday Hairstyles I Went Ga-ga For
    • Should You Tip the Owner of a Salon?
    • How to Save Money at the Beauty Salon