From the mail carrier to the housekeeper to the garbage crew - are you feeling pressure to tip practically everyone this holiday season?

Experts on the issue say holiday tipping has certainly become more of a norm over the past few years.

Still, it's not mandatory. But if you're feeling jolly leading up to the new year, here are some tips...about tips, courtesy of online etiquette sites and Leslie Beck of Compass Wealth Management in Wood-Ridge.

The earlier, the better

If your holiday tipping comes in the form of cash, it's better to share the wealth now rather than later, according to Beck.

"They might actually need those funds to help their own planning for the holiday season," Beck said. "It's much more helpful for them to receive it earlier."

Know the rules

You may be breaking the biggest rule on an annual basis.

U.S. mail carriers are forbidden from accepting cash of any amount, or any tips considered cash equivalents, such as gift cards. Under federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth up to $20 per occasion.

Newspaper carriers, along with UPS and FedEx drivers, are permitted to accept cash.

How much should you give?

The answer obviously depends on your budget, but according to a "Holidays Made Easy" post on, the general rule of thumb is to tip the cost of one visit for people who provide personal services, such as hairdressers and personal trainers.

If a typical trip to your regular hairstylist costs $30, maybe your tip this month can be another $30.

For housekeepers, babysitters, dog walkers and other people with whom you have a routine relationship, a week's pay is the way to go, the post said.

Non-cash options

Dollars aren't the only way to say thanks.

"A handwritten note or homemade cookies...can serve as recognition and acknowledgement that I see you and I appreciate what you do for me," Beck said.

Even a positive online review can do wonders for a business provider.

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