With Tight Budgets, Creativity Key in Tipping for Services - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

WFL_CharitableAlternativesIt’s the giving time of the year. Traditionally, we are accustomed to giving those whose services make our lives easier — doormen, baby sitters, mail carriers, and hairstylists — a little extra in the form of cash tips or gifts during the holiday season. But with people experiencing severe economic hardship it’s going to be a lot harder to tip than it has been in the past. According to the Consumer Reports’ Holiday Shopping Poll, 65% of Americans plan to cut back on overall holiday expenses such as gifts, tips, travel, and entertaining.

But that doesn’t mean its okay to forego showing your gratitude. “This is not the time to give in abundance, but it is time to give in appreciation,” says Angelo Ellerbee, celebrity etiquette coach and CEO of public relations firm Double Xxposure.

So, as you prepare your tipping and gift list, be of good cheer. Lizzie Post, author, lifestyle guru and great, great granddaughter to etiquette expert Emily Post says you should definitely tip service workers, but you do not have to tip or give a gift to professionals such as your doctor, dentist, or therapist. Hairstylists and professional trainers are an exception to that rule. You should tip them the cost of one visit or an equally valuable gift.

Post recommends that you not give your boss a gift. “There is a chance for it to look like you are trying to buy favoritism,” she says. But a group gift, from the department or team is OK.

However, if you have $5 or less to give, opt instead to give an equally valuable gift. Although every little bit counts, some professionals might be offended to receive such a small tip. Plus, a thoughtful gift could be received as more heartfelt.

If money for a gift is simply not available at all, Post and Ellerbee, agree there are other ways to show your appreciation:

Get creative in gift giving. Use your talent and time to make service providers something special from the heart.

Communicate your gratitude. Make sure you tell the worker verbally or in written communication how much you appreciate their services.

Holiday Tipping Recommendations from The Emily Post Institute:

Regular babysitter

— One evening’s pay and a small gift from your children.

Home health employees/ Private nurse

— Check with agency first about gifts or tipping policies. If there is a “no gifts/tipping policy,” consider a donation to the agency. Otherwise, give them a thoughtful gift from you.


— Up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift.

Barber/Beauty salon staff

— Cost of one haircut or salon visit or a gift. Give individual cards or small gifts to each staff member who works with you.

Personal trainer

— Up to the cost of one session or a gift.

Newspaper delivery person

— $10-$30 or a small gift

Apartment doorman/superintendent

— $15 or more, each for multiple doormen, or a gift.


$20-$50 each or a gift


— A small gift (not cash) or note from you as well as a small gift from your child.

Mail carriers

— United States Postal Service workers may not accept cash gifts, checks, gift cards, or any other form of currency. Give them small gifts that have little intrinsic value (travel mugs, hand warmers, etc.) that are worth no more than $20 in value.


Emily Post Institute’s full tipping recommendations

Average tips given during the 2008 Holiday

The New Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times — Revised Edition

How to Be: A Guide to Contemporary Living for African Americans

BlackEnterprise.com On Etiquette

Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

MORE ON BlackEnterprise.com