Knowing who to tip at the holidays - and how much - can sometimes be a puzzle. 

As Americans open their wallets for the holiday season, custom dictates cracking them wider still to give annual tips to the service providers in your life.

"It's a tradition that works well," said Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesman for the Emily Post Institute. "It's a good way to honor people, build good relationships."

But knowing who to tip is always a bit of a puzzle. Post Senning, the great-great-grandson of Emily Post, suggests tipping the people who help with your home, like a regular handyman or babysitter, or who help with your person, like a fitness trainer or barber. You should also consider whether the individual is paid by the service, eliminating professionals like doctors.

Traditional etiquette says you don't have to tip a service provider who is also the owner of the business, but if you'd like to reward them, Post Senning suggests asking if they would mind receiving a tip.

The greatest growth in tipping expectations has been for in-home child care workers like nannies and au pairs. Meanwhile, mail carriers and teachers are occupations people think they should tip, but there are ethics restrictions on these.

If all this sounds terribly expensive, remember you don't have to tip everyone, and many people don't give annual tips at all — which makes it all the better if you can.

"It does make an impression, people do notice, precisely because not everyone does it," Post Senning said.

Advice on whom and how much to tip during the holidays, from Emily Post, includes: regular babysitter,one evening's pay, plus a small gift from your child; barber, cost of one haircut and possibly a small gift; day care providers, $25 to $75 each, plus a small gift from your child; dog walker, one week's pay; house cleaner, one day's pay; and child's teacher: gift, not cash, but check school policy.

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