Tips for proper holiday tipping

It's a hot topic every holiday season: who should you tip and how much should you give?

Thomas Farley, an etiquette expert known as Mister Manners, says the best rule of thumb is to start with the people you're accustomed to tipping during the year.

That includes service professionals like your hair colorist, hair stylist, massage therapist, and even your acupuncturist. Thomas says you should tip those people the cost of one service. If you go to a $10 barber, you would tip $10. Likewise, if you get a $700 haircut, Thomas says you would tip $700.

As for your doormen or garage attendants, Thomas says, you should tip all of them.

The amount of that tip should reflect what you have or haven't done throughout the year. If you tip your garage attendant daily, Thomas says, you don't necessarily need to give something at the holidays. If you haven't tipped anything throughout the year, Thomas says, your holiday gift should be an accumulation of all the tips you didn't give.

The one person you shouldn't tip? Your mailman. Thomas says that by law, letter carriers are federal employees who cannot accept cash or cash equivalents. Even a gift card is a violation.

Thomas fields questions about tipping all year long, and he says, people have very strong opinions about it.

Ride-hailing services are a big question mark these days now that Uber, Via, and Lyft all take tips. Thomas says you should give those drivers something, since you now can. As for taxis, he says, unless the driver has been surly with you or is driving erratically, 20 percent is appropriate.

How about when you pick up takeout? Thomas says you definitely want to tip something. It doesn't have to be the same tip you would give if you were in a restaurant, but he thinks 10 percenty to 15 percent is entirely appropriate.

On the flip side, you don't need to tip at Starbucks or somewhere you're getting a coffee for the first time. In those situations, Thomas says, tips are only appropriate for people who go above and beyond.

Still have questions about appropriate holiday tipping?

Real estate agency Triplemint has a Holiday Doorman Tip-O-Meter. Answer a few questions and it will help you figure out an appropriate tip for your doormen.

Thomas Farley also shared a holiday tipping spreadsheet that I've posted on my Facebook page.