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The ultimate holiday tipping guide: How much to give

Do you tip the garbage collectors at the holidays? How much should you give your doorman as the year comes to a close?

Year-end tips have become a common practice. About 60 percent of Americans tipped one or more service providers last year, according to a Consumer Reports survey of 2,013 adults conducted earlier this year. They shelled out an average of $45 in tips, the majority of which were in cash, the survey found. Tipping tallies tended to be higher in larger cities.

Yet it’s not always clear if you should tip a service provider for the holidays — and if so, how much.

“The best way to gauge to whom you should give tips is to look at those individuals who have helped you throughout the year,” said etiquette expert Elaine Swann. “Individuals who helped to make your life easy, assisted you in some shape or fashion.”

The first thing is take a look at your budget, which will help determine how many people you can afford to give to, said Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute. (See guidelines below for typical tips by provider.)

“It is about prioritizing your list,” she said. “You’ve got to know what you are able to do. This isn’t meant to stress you out and make you feel horrible and guilty. It’s really meant to be an opportunity.”

Don’t just hand over a few bills. That can make things awkward, Swann said.

“Be sure that you present it well, whether it is in an envelope with a thank you and a smile on it, or a card,” she said.

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