Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tips On Tipping?

Welcome to December 1st everyone - the 25 day countdown to the biggest holiday of the year is officially on. My goal this month is to blog holiday/season related posts every day up until and on Ho, Ho, Ho Christmas.

It's a goal. A big one. Hopefully I will be able to reach it.

Anywho, I wanted to officially kick of the holiday season with a topic that seems to have exploded onto the scene as of, well, today. Depending on who you speak with, this topic can be rather controversial.

Drum rolllllllllllll - Holiday tipping.

According to most tipping experts (who are these people?) tipping during the holidays should be more then what you would normally tip during the rest of the year. According to these experts (does becoming an expert require an advanced degree?) tipping 10%-15% is a thing of the past and 20% and up is the new norm. These experts also suggest to tip individuals such as our mail carriers and our trashmen. According to reports I've read, it is suggested to offer $20 to your mailman and $20 to EACH of the men that pick up your garbage. They also suggest a heftier tip for your favorite barista, hairdresser and manicurist.

My own opinion? Why? Why is it that we have to tip some people and not others? I understand that some professions are more service orientated then others but isn't every job on some level providing a service for someone somewhere? Although I respect and am thankful that I have a trashman that picks up my trash every single week I can't help but wonder WHY I should be tipping them. That is what they get paid for. It's their job. Drive around. Stop. Pick up trash. Drive around. Stop. Pick up trash. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It would be different if Mr. Trash Man assisted in helping me bring trash from INSIDE the house to the curb - that is going beyond what he gets paid to do and I would absolutely provide a tip. But a tip for doing what you get paid to do anyway? That doesn't make sense. An argument I've heard is that trashmen deserve a tip because their job is so gross and disgusting and they pick up our trash and it smells and ewwwwww......

Sssssssssooooo if I'm understanding the argument correctly - these individuals CHOSE to embark on a profession that involves handling stinky, smelly trash and I'm supposed to reward them extra for the profession they've chosen - that they are getting paid for? If that were the case, then I deserve a hug for every client that slams the door in my face because although I chose to go into a profession that involves cold calling and dealing with rotten people it is necessary for others to coddle me.

Yeah exactly - wouldn't happen.

And the postal workers? My mailman, who is a lovely gentleman, rolls up to my mailbox in his truck, does not need to get out of the truck, opens the box, and slides my mail in. Then he collects a paycheck. What am I tipping exactly? If I were unable to get to my mailbox because I was elderly or handicap and the mailman delivered my mail directly into my hands inside the house, then yes, tip deserved.

Why do we need to tip waiters and waitresses more during the holidays? I traditionally always tip a smidgen more than 20% because I always round up to the nearest dollar, move the decimal over to determine 10% and then double that number. If the server is exceptional, I will leave a little more.

But why are we expected to give more than normal during the holidays? My clients don't send more business my way because it's the holidays. So once again why some professions and not others? Why do we need to reward extra for someone just doing what they are supposed to do because it is their job?

To be fair I have never worked in a profession that involved tipping, therefore I have no idea what it's like to depend on tipping for income. I understand that good money can be made in these types of professions, but I am not the type of person that could deal with a varying income from week to week. I like to know exactly how much I'm making week to week and if I made an added commission based on how hard I worked then wonderful.

So what's the deal? Is anyone passing out extra money this holiday season? If you are, who are you tipping extra? Why are you tipping extra and how much extra?


  1. I live in an apartment, so our garbage men collect community dumpsters. It would be bizarre to wait for them to chase them down for a holiday tip. As for my mail lady, she's pretty awful. She's quite careless about the way she SHOVES our mail into the box, and I often have envelopes tear because of it. Sorry, but I'd rather her be replaced.

    I do work in the service industry, and pet sitting confuses people. Some tip all of the time, some tip during the holidays and some never tip, ever. I will tell you, that I leave openings for the clients I know tip (sorry, but I'm earning a living, and if I can work less and make more, I'm doing it). I certainly never expect them, and always appreciate them. Holiday or no holiday.

  2. I waited tables from the time I was 16 until I graduated college. People like you would have made me feel it was the holiday year-round. So since you are already tipping so graciously, I don't necessarily feel you need to tip extra - since most people don't tip over 15% anyway. I worked in a small town in high school so it was constantly regulars - who knew everything about me and vice versa. So during the holidays they might have given me 5 bucks extra or something...but it was rare. And then in college I worked in a bigger city, once again there were the few select regulars who would request me - I was like their adopted kid - but for just going out and eating? I bet any waiter will tell you that 20% is amazing and that they are gracious for that.
    But in answer to your question - No, I probably won't be handing out any extra tips this season unless I run across someone that really goes "above and beyond" my expectations. Geez, I feel like a big 'ol scrooge.

  3. I love this topic!

    One of my favorite parts of the holidays is that it gives me an excuse to do extra stuff for people... And I love seeing the look of glee on someone's face when I bring them a tray of holiday cookies or whatever.

    That said, I am not realllllly that good about extra tipping. Like, we gave our mail carrier a gift certificate to Target last year... And the year before that, we gave our UPS guy some Godiva chocolates (but that's because we saw him almost every day in 2008 because he kept bringing us wedding-related stuff). But I ALWAYS do something for my hairdresser - usually a check for the amount I normally tip him/her - because I believe it is CRITICAL to create good will with the person who controls how your hair looks. And I try to make cookies for the guys in the guard house and the people in our apartment complex office just because, well, I like making cookies without having to stuff them down my gullet.

    I guess I feel like tipping is fun. If it makes you feel good, do it. If it makes you feel anxious or grumpy, don't. Because that's totally what the holidays are about - feeling good and doing good because you want to, not because you are obligated to.