The holidays are here again, and with that festive, generous spirit, so too is the tipping season. If you want to better manage your holiday spending or avoid a social faux pas, we offer you these thoughts on gifting cash and tipping this holiday season. Who do you tip? How much should you tip? If you feel like you’ve become the holiday ATM machine, here are some practical suggestions you can implement.

He’s Making a List, Checking It Twice

If jolly ol’ St. Nick double checks his list before delivering presents, why not follow his tried and true method? Here at Organized Instincts, we love checklists. So it is not surprising we encourage readers to make a list of who they intend to tip this year and determine the amounts ahead of time. For the traditionalists, grab a lined piece of paper and write it out. For our tech enthusiast readers, launch the notes app and make a list. We’ll give you bonus points if you mark off the gifts as you present them. The hope is to avoid getting caught off guard by giving a tip on the fly—be prepared and do your homework. Not only will this allow you to see at a glance how much you’ll be giving, but you’re also less likely to forget anyone, tip when it’s not necessary, or accidentally give a double tip.

How Much is Too Much?

If you’re not sure how much is too much, take a look at what you tipped last year and determine if that amount was reasonable or if you’d like to give a little more. There is certainly a fear of not appearing generous enough. If you don’t remember your tip amount or you’ve never tipped certain service providers before, do some research online to see what is considered acceptable. However, you’ll want to be careful not to be taken advantage of due to your generosity. Determining the amount yourself helps keep a rein on your wallet and doesn’t allow the recipient to decide for you.

How to Give

If you give cash, be discreet by placing your tip in a festive card or small envelope. Mark the exterior with names and you’ll prep your tips in one fell swoop. Give any monetary gifts in a consistent single format, with cash instead of multiple methods. Utilizing these tips will ensure everyone on your list receives your gift, and will avoid confusion about whether or not you delivered that tip. For our digital list makers, check off your note as you spread the holiday spirit.

If you give monetary gifts apart from cash, give them in an easy-to-use format that you can track, such as Venmo or Zelle. Whichever format you use, pick only one to avoid a confusing kerfuffle. If an app is how you usually tip someone, such as your stylist or valet, continue the trend.

You’ll want to be mindful of certain industries that frown on or outright forbid their employees from accepting or receiving tips and monetary gifts from customers and clients. These might include postal workers, delivery drivers (FedEx/UPS), or government workers. By knowing who can and cannot receive a tip, you’ll save yourself—and your recipient—an embarrassing moment.

Don’t be a Scrooge

When it comes to tipping, the gift you give should be given without restrictions or expectations on its future use. Do not give with any strings attached. The whole point is that it is a gift, so treat it as such. Leave it up to your recipient how they wish to spend the money.

Giving tips to those in your employ, such as hairdressers, massage therapists, personal trainers, golf coaches, manicurists, nannies, doormen, baristas, or housekeepers, is not mandatory, however, we encourage it. Take some time to write a note of appreciation to go along with your tip for that personal touch. It is a zero-cost add-on that means so much to the receiver. The best time of year to give tips is the holiday season, to acknowledge people and the hard work they do throughout the year. This is especially true of workers who earn an hourly wage or whose total income are more dependent upon their tips. Taking the reins of your holiday spending doesn’t mean cutting out tips altogether, rather, being mindful and intentional of how much you’re giving and to whom.

At Organized Instincts, our seasoned team of daily money managers can help you determine reasonable monetary amounts to tip this holiday season. Schedule a free consultation today and spread a little holiday cheer.