Cutting holiday tips seen as chance to really say thank you

Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:58pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - With the recession set to cut tips given to doormen, housekeepers, and other service providers this holiday, etiquette experts say it is time to reclaim the reason for tipping and actually say thank you.

The general rule on tipping is to give the equivalent of what you would usually pay someone each week or for a single session but with money tight, some people are looking to trim that amount without jeopardizing future service or seeming mean.

A survey by Consumer Reports found 26 percent of 1,900 Americans who usually tip or give a gift planned to spend less this holiday than last year. Only 6 percent plan to give more.

Etiquette experts say cutting back is acceptable in hard economic times but it has to be consistent and it is important to still show gratitude by saying thank you.

"In this economy not all of us have the cash we once had, but if you are in a position where you have the funds it is almost a moral imperative to be generous," said Mary Mitchell, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Etiquette."

"But in this downturned economy, we all need to be really authentic and consistent. We can't keep saying how poor we are then rush out and buy a new Porsche. Don't use it as an excuse to save money then buy some Prada boots."

Mitchell said holiday bonuses are for people you rely on regularly and do not tip during the year. A hairdresser, for example, is usually tipped at each visit so instead focus on housekeepers, personal trainers, doormen, babysitters and tutors.

Many teachers are not allowed to accept cash so a small gift is appropriate while postal workers can only accept non-cash gifts or gift cards worth $20 or less.

Peter Post from the Emily Post Etiquette Institute said no one should go into debt to tip: if you only have a small amount to give then set a budget and divide it accordingly.   Continued...

<p>A doorman stands outside the Hyatt Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott</p>