When the holiday season arrives, so too does the enigma of holiday tipping. This custom –  designed to give a little extra love towards all those whom have helped us throughout the year – can be overwhelming, vague and downright expensive. I know that I, personally, sweat at the thought of figuring it all out. And in order to avoid any unnecessary stress, SMP has teamed up with Lizzie Post (yep, THE Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter) and Bank of America to chat the ins and outs of tipping. Crisis averted!

SMP: How do you know where to start when it comes to Holiday tipping?
Lizzie: Make a list! The biggest key to holiday tipping is to plan ahead as it’s easy to forget key individuals who have served you and your family throughout the year.

SMP: Do you have any tips on ensuring you cross everyone off your list? Forgetting someone is always SO awkward!
Lizzie: In order to ensure that you’re able to appropriately tip everyone on your list during this expensive time of year, defining a budget is essential. Find a tool that will give you the ability to define and monitor your budget for all of these monetary gifts. And, use Bank of America’s Mobile Banking App to keep tabs on your finances when you are on the go.

SMP: Okay now the uncomfortable part. How do you decide who to tip what?
Lizzie: Scale your gift-giving. The general rule of thumb for holiday tipping is up to the cost of one instance of service. However, this does not ring true for everyone on your list. Individuals who provide service on a more regular basis, such as an au pair or housekeeper, may require additional recognition, such as one week’s pay. You also have to be cognizant of persons who are unable to accept a monetary gift, such as teachers, healthcare professionals and letter carriers. For these individuals, you should consider giving a small, thoughtful gift, such as holiday cookies, seasonal flowers or a charitable contribution in their name. Making these purchases with a rewards card, such as your BankAmericard Cash RewardsTM, will earn you 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% on all groceries and 3% on gas! That helps put some extra cash in your pocket during an expensive holiday season.

SMP: Yep, I’m definitely taking notes. Anything else we should all be cognizant of?
Lizzie: Express gratitude! It’s important to remember that above all else, holiday tipping is really holiday thanking, extending a courteous gesture as a result of service throughout the year. It’s not a bribe to buy good service for the year ahead. So no matter how much or what you decide to give, it’s always important to extend your thanks with a handwritten note or holiday card. After all, it’s the thought and sentiment behind the gesture that matters most, not the gift itself.

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