Culture And Criticism

How Much To Give The Doorman, And Other Great Mysteries Of Holiday Tipping

A santa hat with money stuffed in it i i
iStockphoto.com
A santa hat with money stuffed in it
iStockphoto.com

On Friday's Morning Edition, Don Gonyea talks about holiday tipping with self-styled tipping expert Steve Dublanica. Dublanica is a longtime food server who wrote the book Waiter Rant, based on his blog of the same name, as well as this year's Keep The Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest To Become The Guru Of The Gratuity.

Keep The Change chronicles Dublanica's visits with tipped service workers from baristas to prostitutes to cab drivers, and based on his discussions with them, he winds up giving advice that can be summed up fairly simply: you should tip as generously as you can, because, as he says, it builds "relationships" between you and people like your barber and your doorman, who will then remember you and treat you better. He also points out, unsurprisingly, that many of these people work very hard and don't make a lot of money, so they're counting on you to tip adequately.

It's some of those more familiar folks you see and rely upon regularly who are the focus of Dublanica's thoughts about holiday tipping. In addition to the importance of those "relationships," those are the people who, as he says of doormen, sometimes count on large holiday tips to make up a significant part of their money. (In a recent blog entry, Dublanica cites a discussion with a New York doorman who reports making $9000 in holiday tips — almost 20 percent of his annual income.)

In his talk with Don Gonyea, Dublanica covers the nuts-and-bolts basics — he suggests the price of a haircut to your hairdresser and hints that $100 might be about right for a doorman — but he also stresses that it's important to treat people well all year, not just to cough up the holiday tip. And under no circumstances should you regift anything in lieu of a gratuity, he cautions, citing the example of a woman who was busted giving her hairdresser a hand-me-down tray of cookies. "That is going to get her a bad haircut," he says.

So we put the question to you: Do you tip your hairdresser at the end of the year? Who else is on your list of people who get tipped during the holidays, and do you worry that you're doing it wrong?

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