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Tips for giving a holiday gratuity

Friday - 12/9/2011, 1:55pm  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If you tip workers who are important to you or provide personal service, now's the time to do it so they can use your generosity for their holiday needs, etiquette experts say.

When deciding who deserves a tip, you might consider whether your newspaper is double-wrapped on rainy days, whether empty trash cans ever end up in flower beds or if your stylist squeezes in your emergency appointments.

As for how much to give, consider $10 to $30 for newspaper delivery people and sanitation workers. House cleaners and hairdressers might get holiday tips equal to the cost of one visit. Personal trainers: $50. An apartment doorman or concierge may get $10 to $80.

Suggestions from etiquette experts can vary for some services, so you'll need to use your own discretion.

For example, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine recommends you consider giving a nanny a week's pay and a small gift from your child.

Meanwhile, tipguide.org recommends that a full-time nanny get up to one month's pay, plus a small gift from your child.

But even if you're feeling generous, it's never appropriate to tip professionals like your doctor, lawyer or accountant, says Kiplinger's editor Janet Bodnar.

Some counties and institutions also have policies forbidding employees from receiving money. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, says your carrier can only receive small gifts worth up to $20.

And some workers aren't allowed to accept gifts of any kind. If that's the case or if you're strapped for cash yourself, you still can make a nice gesture with a handwritten note expressing your appreciation.

For more tips on holiday tipping, follow this link.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)