By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The end of the year is the traditional time for tipping those who have provided special services for you and your family.

But it’s not always easy to determine who to tip and how much.

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Americans generally have a reputation as great tippers – especially at the holidays.

“We in the U.S. are a tipping country. We have been that historically. We are very good at tipping,” Schweitzer said.
Sharon Schweitzer is an international consultant on social customs – and she says the first rule about year-end tipping is to know your budget.

“Look at your financial situation. You really need to budget, and you don’t ever want to overextend yourself because those January bills are unrelenting,” Schweitzer said.

First, decide how much can you afford to spend on tipping overall – fifty bucks, a hundred, two hundred – as to whom you should tip, Point Park Professor Elaine Luther has this advice during the pandemic.

“After two years of relying on people more than you ever had to in the past, you want to sit back and say, who are the people who provided me goods and services over the last couple years that my life would have been much tougher and not nearly as easy to do without them,” Luther said.

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Some people the experts say often get a year-end tip:

  • teachers
  • parking and garage attendants
  • garbage collectors
  • newspaper deliverers
  • mail carriers

“It really is personalized. It is who is helping you in your life so your life is easier,” Schweitzer said.

How much to tip is up to you, but usually it’s the equivalent of one service – like the cost of one haircut or an evening’s babysitting – and it doesn’t have to be cash – gift cards, a bottle of wine or something harder, even cookies and cakes – they all work because they show appreciation – and it’s not too late.

“People are taking care and doing this all the way up to New Years Day. It’s not too late. I imagine people would accept this and say thank you even the first week of January,” Schweitzer said.

Now some employers – like the U.S. Postal Service – prohibit their employees from taking cash gifts or anything above a minimal value – so don’t be surprised if your tip is politely refused.

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But that’s rare – and most people, especially those who work with you on a regular basis, will be grateful you remembered them at the holidays.