12/11/2013 12:31 EST | Updated 02/10/2014 05:59 EST

Sticky Situation: Holiday Tipping Tips

Sharing the holiday spirit with the people that make your life good can be a Sticky Situation.

Here is a cheat sheet to make sure that everyone on your list gets recognized for their talented or caring contributions.

This annual tradition reflects regional customs. If you are new to a community, talk to your friends, neighbours and colleagues. As my maternal grandmother Florina always said: "When in doubt, find out." It is better to ask than to risk hurting someone's feelings or getting someone into trouble. More and more companies have gift-giving policies. Don't be shy, ask the receptionist, the manager, the owner or the service provider him or herself.

Your list of holiday gratuities or gifts is based on three criteria:

1. Foremost, it should respect your budget. Make a prioritized list and allocate accordingly.

2. Recognize the impact that person has on your life and/or that of your loved ones throughout the entire year.

3. Reward based on the length of service along with your relationship with that person.

Ideally offer this end-of-year tradition in person. Slip a crisp bill in a card along with your handwritten appreciation and seasonal wishes. It is always a nice gesture to have all of the family members who benefit from the service also write and sign the card.

If you will not be seeing the service provider, mail a check or gift card, inside of your card.

Tip or gift?

Generally, you give a tip to the service provider that you directly give money to, like your hairdresser. You offer a gift to the attendants that work for an institution or organization that you pay via a check or money transfer, like a nursing home caregiver.

Who gets what and how much?

Babysitter: Cash equal to one night's average pay plus a token gift from your child.

Building supervisor: Cash, minimum $20, the amount depends on the level and frequency of services provided throughout the year.

Daycare worker: All who equally care for your child receive equal gifts. The value varies between $10 to $40 dollars. Include your child in the gift choosing process and card.

Dog walker: Cash or gift, up to one-week pay.

Hairdresser and beauty treatment specialists: Cash and/or a gift; depends on how generous you usually tip during the rest of the year. The amount could be as much as double your usual tip or that value in a gift.

House cleaner: Cash and/or gift, up to the value of your usual service.

Live-in help: Cash tip plus a personal gift.

Mail or Parcel service carrier: No cash -- gift or gift card at about $20. Note that the Canada Post gift policy states that the maximum acceptable value of a gift is $100.

Massage therapist: Cash or gift, up to the cost of one session. Note: you do not tip a service provider that is for a doctor-prescribed medical condition, who gets paid by your medical benefits.

Nursing home care giver: Small gift for each person or a group gift such as a basket of luxury sweets.

Personal trainer: Cash or gift, up to the cost of one session.

Sticky situation: This year was a financially tough one. You are not able to give as much as you have in the past.

Solution: Reduce the amount and at the very least still offer a card that recognizes the value of the service and your appreciation for the provider.

In the end, it makes sense to thank and take care of the people that take good care of you.

Have a Sticky Situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more Solutions to Sticky Situations? Check out Facebook, Twitter and order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast, and beyond, to present customized activities.


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