Holiday Tipping Guide 2021: Who and How Much

Yet, said Leonard Green, a professor of psychological and brain sciences and economics at Washington University in St. Louis, once workers know that tipping is the norm, it may act as an incentive to provide excellent service to clients. “You want to make sure they continue to tip in the future.”

Workers eligible for holiday tips include those who help you in some way, whether at your home or elsewhere, Mr. Senning said. They can include a housekeeper, doorman, nanny, regular handyman (or woman), as well as your regular manicurist or (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) massage therapist.

Elaine Swann, an etiquette adviser in San Diego, advised thinking about someone who went beyond expectations — perhaps, a babysitter who repeatedly filled in on short notice or a meal delivery person who was always on time. “Put some thought into individuals who really helped make your life easier throughout the year,” she said.

Then, set a budget for tips that takes into account your own financial situation. If money is tight, you may need to rein in your generosity. “I encourage folks to not let it become a detriment to their own pocketbook,” Ms. Swann said.

That said, the pandemic made for difficult times for many service workers, so if your budget supports it, be generous. “If you are able, I’d recommend going above and beyond this year,” Ms. Swann said.

Vid Ponnapalli, a fee-only financial planner in Holmdel, N.J., said he had urged his clients to budget for tips and gifts as they would any other expense. “You have to determine your affordability and your budget,” he said.

If your finances don’t allow for extra cash this year, try and show gratitude another way, Mr. Senning said, perhaps with a thoughtful handwritten note. “Never underestimate the power of your words.”