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The do's and don'ts of holiday tipping

Should you give your mail carrier some cash? What about your hairdresser or mechanic? We'll break it down in this holiday tipping guide.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Okay so Christmas is in like a week and you still need to get gifts for your nephew, aunt, neighbor, granddaughter and co-worker. Phew!

But what about the people who help you all the time, like your mail carrier, your baby sitter, your mechanic?

"During the holidays people feel the need to show their appreciation in something other than just your standard tip," said Professor Ann Fairhurst, head of UT's Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management Department.

According to Care.com’s 2019 Cost of Holidays Survey, 80% of families who took the survey said they give holiday tips to service providers.

RELATED: New Jersey waitress surprised with $1,200 cash tip

Fairhurst has some tips to make tipping simple and avoid giving you more holiday stress.

"I think it's best to determine the people who have really helped you in your life, helped you do different things, really went above and beyond the expectations of that service provider," she said.

Those are people who help you every day, like your garbage collector, mail carrier, housekeepers or babysitters.

Etiquette experts suggest tipping garbage collectors $20-$30.

For regular babysitters, double their pay one evening.

The suggest tipping your hairdresser up to the cost of one haircut.

RELATED: Cracker Barrel waitress receives $1,100 tip

"You have to check and make sure that they're allowed to take tips because not everyone is allowed to take a tip," said Fairhurst.

That includes USPS mail carriers. They can't take money or gift cards, but can accept gifts under $20.

"Even if you bake a batch of cookies or make something for them or even a small card is still appropriate and much appreciated," said Fairhurst.

She said don't tip people like dentists, doctors, attorneys, or accountants.

But they'll gladly accept holiday cards.

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"That makes just as big of an impact as a financial gift does," said Fairhurst.

She suggested checking your budget before giving out big holiday tips.

The point is to say thank you, not break anyone's bank.

Tipping these service providers isn't required, just part of the spirit of giving.

Care.com provides this detailed list of service providers and the suggested holiday tip:

  • Animal Trainer - cost of 1 session
  • Au Pair - 1-2 week's pay and a small gift from your kids
  • Babysitter - Average day/evening pay for regular sitters and a small gift from your kids
  • Barber - Cost of 1 session
  • Bartender - $20-$40 for someone you see regularly
  • Building Porter/Janitor - $25-$100 depending on involvement
  • Building Superintendent - $25-$100 depending on involvement
  • Cleaning Company -Cost of 1 session or a small gift, if you see the same people regularly
  • Cobbler - Don't tip
  • Coffee Shop Barista -$10-$20 for someone you see regularly
  • Contractor - Don't tip
  • Country Club Staff - $50 for someone you see regularly
  • Day Care Staff - Small gifts from your kids in the $10-$30 range
  • Dentist - Don't tip
  • Doctor - Don't tip
  • Dog Walker - Cost of 1 session or 1 week's pay
  • Doorman - $25-$100 depending on involvement
  • Driver / Limo Service - $20-$50 or more if it's a regular driver
  • Dry Cleaning Delivery - $10-$20
  • Elevator Operator - $10-$40 depending on involvement
  • Errand Runner - $10-$40 for someone you hire regularly
  • Fitness Instructor - Cost of 1 session or a small gift
  • Food Delivery Person - $10-$30 for someone you see regularly
  • Garbage Collector - $20-$30
  • Gas Station Attendant - $10-$20 for someone you see regularly
  • Groomer - Cost of 1 session
  • Hairdresser or Colorist - Cost of 1 session
  • Handyman - $15-$50
  • Housekeeper - Cost of 1 session or a small gift for infrequent service
  • Kennel Staff - $10-$20 for each staff member or food for the group
  • Kids' Activities Instructor - Small gift from your kids
  • Kids' Coach (Athletics) - Small gift from your kids
  • Landscaper - Cost of 1 session or $20-$50 for infrequent service
  • Live-in Help (housekeeper, senior care aide, nanny, chef, etc.) - 1-2 week's pay
  • Massage Therapist - Cost of 1 session
  • Mother's Helper - Average day's pay for regular helper and a small gift from your kids
  • Nail Salon - Cost of 1 session
  • Nanny - 1-2 week's pay and a gift from your kids
  • Newspaper Carrier - $10-$20
  • Nurse (in-home nurse, private nurse) - $25-$100 depending on involvement
  • Nursing Home or Assisted Living Community Staff - $10-$20 for each staff member or food for the group
  • Package Delivery Person - Small, non-cash gift
  • Parking Garage Attendant - $10-$20 for someone you see regularly
  • Personal Assistant - Small gift and a holiday bonus based on performance
  • Personal Chef - 1-2 week's pay or cost of one session, depending on frequency
  • Personal Trainer - Cost of 1 session
  • Pet Day Care Staff - $10-$20 for each staff member or food for the group
  • Pet Sitter - Cost of 1 session
  • Physical Therapist - Don't tip
  • Pool Cleaner - Cost of 1 session
  • Postal Worker - Food, perishable group gifts or a non-cash gift worth less than $20
  • School Bus Driver - $10-$20
  • Senior Care Aide - $25-$100, depending on frequency
  • Snow Remover/Shoveler - Cost of 1 session
  • Tailor - Don't tip
  • Teacher - Small gift from your kids
  • Teacher's Aide/Assistant - Small gift from your kids
  • Tutor - Cost of 1 session and small gift from your child, depending on frequency
  • Veterinarian - Don't tip
  • Waiter / Waitress - $20-$40 for someone you see regularly