Deciding what to give your hair stylist, mail carrier and more can be a challenge during the holiday season! Here are some tips for your tipping needs.

December is a month of celebrations and giving — typically to family and friends but often to those who serve us throughout the year. Traditionally, a wide range of service personnel hope for holiday gifts from their clients even if they receive tips during the year.

Clients typically think of their hair stylists, mail carriers, cleaning people and newspaper carriers as people to thank with a year-end gift. Other possible recipients include teachers, babysitters, dog walkers and personal trainers.

Determining who should receive gifts and how much can depend on the frequency and longevity of their service. Clients may want to thank people for great service or provide some extra compensation for those whose wages are not very high.

According to and, most people give cash in the amount of one visit or one day’s service to their hair stylist or babysitter. Some people give gift cards or other gifts, but an unscientific local survey indicates many clients believe service people prefer cash.

One local housekeeper, Bonnie Krystopowicz, says her customers typically give her the cash amount of one visit. However, she has several elderly clients who give her cash plus a gift card to thank her for the errands she also does for them.

Emily Post and Real Simple caution that postal carriers can accept a maximum gift of $20. Such limits may also apply to teachers.

For nannies or au pairs, these authorities recommend one or two week’s pay. In group situations, such as nursing homes, they suggest a gift that can be shared, such as a food basket.

Don Ontart, a hair stylist and owner of Don’s Salon in Southfield, has many Jewish customers who usually give him cash, gift cards or liquor for Christmas.

“I don’t expect anything. In fact, I feel I should give my customers presents but there are too many for that to be practical,” he says. He and his staff thank their clients on the Saturday before Christmas with a delicious hot buffet at the salon.


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