How Much to Tip Over the Holidays

The old adage that good help is hard to find has never been more true.. So when you are fortunate enough to receive it, acknowledge it wholeheartedly. All the people that make our life easy deserve a sincere thanks everyday of the year, but the holidays are the perfect time to show your gratitude.

Pull out a pen, a note card — and your wallet.

A brief hard-written card explaining your gratefulness and wishing a happy holidays will do. Tuck in some cash for either double the value that you normally tip, or for an amount equal to one typical service (so if your cleaner normally charges you $40 a visit, the holiday payment should be double that, with a nice card). Call it the “saving your ass all year long tax”. Money very well spent.

Here’s me further explaining on Global News


Radio Interview, The Motts

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a couple gets a wedding gift they think is cheap, so they demand a receipt and an explanation from the guest. It’s not a joke, but it might as well be.

I had a blast talking to The Motts about this calamity. #truestory.

The Motts with Karen Cleveland

Guest post – Because I am a Girl

I am thrilled to be part of Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl program. I am currently fundraising for this incredible cause and shared my tips on how to raise funds (without ruffling feathers).

The etiquette of fundraising: How to ask your friends and family to raise money for a good cause

Karen Cleveland

Karen Cleveland tackles all things etiquette from the traditional to the taboo on her blog, Finishing School.

When it comes to fundraising, we often get asked the same question: “what’s the best way to ask friends and family to donate?”  That’s why we’re honoured to have today’s blog written by Karen Cleveland, who tackles all things etiquette from the traditional to the taboo on her blog, Finishing School. She sincerely believes good manners make the world a better place.


There is no shortage of great causes to support—though we can all sometimes feel like our philanthropic interests may outpace our social circles. Feel sheepish about asking for money? Worried about repeatedly hitting up the same folks? Where there is a will, there is a way. And you can continue to fundraise without becoming a social pariah.

Here are my 7 etiquette tips on asking your friends and family for a donation:

  1. Be knowledgeable about the cause you’re supporting. If you can speak with conviction  about it and your friends see how fired up you get, they will be more motivated to support you. Being able to answer their questions with ease, instills a sense of faith in those you’re approaching for donations.
  2. Get comfortable asking, and comfortable being told no. Maintain a ‘no hard feelings’ policy and never put people on the spot. If your request is declined, thank them anyway and move right along in the conversation.
  3. Mass emails or Facebook blasts get lost in the clutter. When we see we’re one of 150 people on a message thread, it begets apathy, as we assume the other 149 will give generously. Small group settings or face-to-face forums are great to tell people about what you are up to and gauge their interest.
  4. Use your discretion about what elements of your cause fit your audience. Your parents’ friends might not be the intended audience for a raucous cocktail party fundraiser – but they might jump to support the book swap you are organizing.
  5. Take varied approaches and respect the boundaries. If your company has a bulletin board for such purposes, use it to spread the word. Tweeting from your company’s twitter account? Not so good. Soliciting from someone who reports to you might be construed as bullish, so best to avoid.
  6. Understand the fine print. Is there a tax receipt available for donations? Are you asking your friend to sponsor you, or are you asking her to run 10km along with you? Anticipate the logistical concerns of those you’re speaking to and be able to address them.
  7. Thank people like it is your job. By supporting your charitable interests, someone has gone above and beyond for you, and that deserves a heartfelt thank you, in writing. Here’s a sample thank you message that you can modify.

Sample thank you message

Dear [generous donour],

Thank you so much for your support of the [amazing cause]. I’m pleased to share that, with your help, I was able to raise [an outrageous amount of money] last month. The funds raised help support [details of impressive project] in [location].

You can check out more about [impressive project] at [].

In gratitude,


Who break the bank when breaking bread?

I’ve shared my thoughts on general cheque splitting protocol but breaking bread over business deserves its own discussion. If you’re asking someone for lunch, dinner or a cocktail to talk shop, the traditional expectation is that whoever extends the invitation picks up the bill and suggests the location. The language in your invitation should reflect this, “I’d like to take you to lunch to get your thoughts on…” If there is any ambiguity when the bill arrives at the table, pay for it: save yourself the grief, it is not worth the awkwardness.

And avoid the ostentatious shooter behaviour by making a big show of you paying for the meal. It’s gauche and lame, and I promise you, you won’t impress anyone and will just come off looking like a try-hard.

Before you embark on some serious lunchtime networking, (easy, young guns!) find out your company’s parameters for expensing business meals. Some organizations aren’t ok with a lunch time tipple, so if you want a glass of wine over lunch, you might have to pay for that out of your own pocket (and your guests’ for that matter). That said, some meetings might well be worth your time, even if your company won’t foot the bill.

Of course, follow up your chat with a nice email thanking your guest for their time/ideas/work, etc. And tip accordingly!

(First published on She Does the City, May 2011)