Entrepreneurs are independent by nature, but even the most self-sufficient among them can't do it all on their own.
From the woman who keeps your hair looking awesome to the guy who takes your dog for a walk, there are plenty of people who deserve extra thanks for the holidays.
The guidelines below are a starting point for whom and how much you should tip, though the precise amount depends heavily on your relationship with the person, the quality of their work, the frequency with which you use their services, and most of all, your budget.
Give what you can. Tips are appreciated but not mandatory. If your budget is limited, opt for a small gift and a thank-you note. If you're unsure if someone you've hired can legally receive tips, call the company they work for and ask if there are specific guidelines. Someone in management will also be able to tell you if a cash tip or gift is more appropriate and what amount is customary.
Make a plan. Before you make a run to the bank, make a list of those people who have assisted you regularly. Once you know whom you'd like to thank, make a realistic budget of what you can afford to give. If you live in a major metropolitan area, the expected tipping range is slightly higher. Increase the tip for individuals with whom you have a friendship or those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Hand-deliver your tip. When possible, deliver your gift in person accompanied by a handwritten card. Freshly printed, crisp bills are ideal. Gifts should be delivered on or before December 25, but may be given whenever you have contact with the person during the holiday season.
Here are some people you may want to consider tipping:
Manicurist: $25 to $50 or a gift
Hair stylist: $50 to $100 or a gift
Barber: Up to the cost of one haircut or a gift
Personal trainer: Up to the cost of one session or a gift
Housekeeper: Up to the cost of one visit
Au pair or live-in nanny: One or two weeks' pay and a gift from your children
Teacher: A gift card or gift certificate for up to $25, or pitch in with some of the other parents and buy a more expensive gift certificate
Day care provider: $20 to $70 each, plus a small gift from your child
Babysitter: An evening's pay, plus a gift from your child
Massage therapist: Up to the cost of one session or a gift
Superintendent: $20 to $80 or a gift, depending on how helpful he or she has been
Doorman: $15 to $100
Mail carrier: Small gift or gift card up to $20
Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30
Sanitation worker: $10 to $30 each for private service; check your local municipality for regulations, as some areas may not allow tipping
Yard or garden worker: $20 to $50 or a gift card
Handyman: $15 to $50 or a gift card
Pool cleaners: Up to the cost of one cleaning or gift card
Dog walker: Up to one week's pay or a gift
Pet groomer: Up to the cost of one session or a gift
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