Do you owe a holiday tip? Cleveland-area etiquette expert answers

Expert answers and alternatives

LAKEWOOD, Ohio - Tipping. It can be a touchy and personal subject, especially during the holidays.

Are you obliged to give a tip or gift to someone who has provided you personal service throughout the year?

NewsChannel5 asked Colleen Harding, Director of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol , about gifting at year's end.

"Anytime you have someone that's special to you, that's done a great job and continues to do a great job, it's very nice to recognize them in some way," Harding said.

Harding said an additional 15 to 20 percent tip at the holidays is appropriate for a service provider who has given "better-than-average" service throughout the year. Such providers might include a maid, hairdresser, landscaper or pet-sitter.

But what if you just don't have more cash to give?

"Anytime you receive a gesture of goodwill, it is a tip," Harding said. "It is a 'thank you', it is someone taking the time to show some gratitude for good service."

NewsChannel5 visited Pat Catan's Craft Center in Strongsville to see what inexpensive handmade gift ideas are popular for the 2012 holiday season.

Craft designer Sarah Stralka said mesh is the hot material for do-it-your-selfers this year.

"It's a lot easier than it looks," Stralka said, as she bunched and secured cream colored mesh around a wire wreath form. She said rolls of the colored poly-mess sell for about $4 and can be used to make everything from Christmas trees to snowmen.

Other craft projects available at Pat Catan's that could be used to make personalized gifts include: candles, soaps, chocolates, jewelry and gift baskets.

[Be sure to watch the extra vignettes below the video player box for ideas and tips on creating a special thank you gift.]

Also, be advised that U.S. Postal Service regulations limit the value of any gift a mail carrier may receive to $20.

Finally, did you know that giving a tip to a business owner has long been considered to be in poor taste?

"You tip employees because they don't get to keep all of the money (profits), if you tip an owner, it's almost like calling them an employee," Harding said.

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