NEW YORK Nov 23 (Reuters Life!) - With the recession set
to cut tips given to doormen, housekeepers, and other service
providers this holiday, etiquette experts say it is time to
reclaim the reason for tipping and actually say thank you.
The general rule on tipping is to give the equivalent of
what you would usually pay someone each week or for a single
session but with money tight, some people are looking to trim
that amount without jeopardising future service or seeming
A survey by Consumer Reports found 26 percent of 1,900
Americans who usually tip or give a gift planned to spend less
this holiday than last year. Only 6 percent plan to give more.
Etiquette experts say cutting back is acceptable in hard
economic times but it has to be consistent and it is important
to still show gratitude by saying thank you.
"In this economy not all of us have the cash we once had,
but if you are in a postion where you have the funds it is
almost a moral imperative to be generous," said Mary Mitchell,
author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Etiquette."
"But in this downturned economy, we all need to be really
authentic and consistent. We can't keep saying how poor we are
then rush out and buy a new Porsche. Don't use it as an excuse
to save money then buy some Prada boots."
Mitchell said holiday bonuses are for people you rely on
regularly and do not tip during the year. A hairdresser, for
example, is usually tipped at each visit so instead focus on
housekeepers, personal trainers, doormen, babysitters and
Many teachers are not allowed to accept cash so a small
gift is appropriate while postal workers can only accept
non-cash gifts or gift cards worth $20 or less.
Peter Post from the Emily Post Etiquette Institute said no
one should go into debt to tip: if you only have a small amount
to give then set a budget and divide it accordingly.
Both Post and Mitchell agreed this is a good time to
reclaim the whole concept of tipping as a way to communicate
effectively by sending a handwritten note of thanks with a
"In these tough economic times it's important to remember
that holiday tipping is truly about saying thank you," Post
said in a statement.
"Don't buy into the thought that if you don't tip you won't
get good service for the coming year. If you think you've had
bad service for this reason, you might want to consider
Consumer Reports suggested tip-givers who feel a need to
cut back, tip a little earlier in the season.
"Your recipients may appreciate it -- they probably have
people to tip, too," the consumer protection organisation said
in a statement."
Mitchell said other suggestions were pooling to buy a group
gift or coming up with something unique like a coupon to make
someone a dinner at their home or to teach them a skill they
don't have, be it how to use Facebook or how to make a pie.
"For me the only true gifts we have to give are our time and
our attention. That might mean taking someone to lunch or
giving some a sweater or a pound of candy," she said.
(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy)
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