The recent post about the cleaning lady who got soap for a holiday gift reminded me of a tipping etiquette/holiday tip question I have.
I have a massage therapist I regularly see and have struck up something of a casual friendship with in the course of him rubbing me for an hour at a time. I always tip generously. I plan to get a massage before the holiday and was thinking of giving him a holiday gift, perhaps a gift card to somewhere that’s useful to anybody (like Target). This would be in ADDITION to his normal tip (I usually give him $20 for an hour session). Should I just give him a bigger tip instead? I’d like something I can hand him personally, so it’s clear it’s a holiday gift…the tip just gets added to my bill when I pay it as I leave, so it’s a bit impersonal.
Holiday tipping is really a method of expressing appreciation for the work or services a person provides. How one chooses to express that appreciation can be individualistic. Money is not necessarily the only option. Appropriate gifts can also be given depending on the relationship you have with the person. I think the confusion some people have about holiday tipping is to whom these tips should go to. Anyone who provides you with a *regular* service should be tipped. The plumber who comes to repair your busted pipe the week before Christmas would not expect to receive a tip but if you wish to bestow some holiday kindness in the form of a small gift, be all means do so but you are not required.
Your own budget should be a consideration as well. Suggested amounts for tips for certain service industries can be as high as the cost of one session (such as a masseuse) or the equivalent of one week of pay for a nanny (and up to one month for a live-in nanny!). It is imprudent to go into debt so perhaps a small gift with a short note of appreciation would be better suited in certain situations. And you should always give the tip personally just as you intend to do.
I tipped my young farrier $15.00 but gave the young man who does odd jobs each week his own nifty multi ratcheting screwdriver that was like the one of ours he had admired. My allergy nurse that gives me a shot each week is receiving a set of handmade ornaments and a small bag of homemade praline pecans. I’ll probably leave a small bag of praline pecans and a bottled drink in the mailbox for the postman. You have to be careful what you give postal employees as there are regulations as to the value of the gift they can receive. Anything less than $20.00 or a small snack is acceptable.
Here is my recipe for an easy yet nice, small food gift:
Jeanne’s Praline Pecans
4 cups pecan halves (which should be 1 pound)
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Grease 13X9 pan. If doubling, lightly grease a large, cookie sheet with low sides. Put pecans in a metal or ceramic mixing bowl. Combine corn syrup, sugar and butter in 2 cup glass measuring cup (larger if doubling recipe) in microwave. Stir, nuke for 1 minute or until boiling. Stir in vanilla and baking soda until well blended. The mixture will foam when you add the vanilla and baking soda. Drizzle over pecans. Stir with wooden spoon. Put pecans on baking sheet/pan and spread out.
Bake one hour at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring every 20 minutes.
Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on the kitchen counter, remove pecans from oven and spread out evenly on the paper. Be sure to separate clumps of pecans. When they are cool, package them for gifts or store in an airtight container to enjoy yourself. For small bags, I use pretzel rod treat bags by Wilton and buy them from the craft store. Fill with pecans and tie with a holiday ribbon. Perfect size for small gifts!