I've read all of the answers and comments. It seems as though you are trying to understand when tipping is important to the various situations you encounter. How vital is it, not only to the etiquette, but also to the well being of the person receiving the tip? Restaurants: Food servers are often paid less than minimum wage. Tips are what makes up the difference in their "survival" income. The servers at small diners get much less in tips than those at higher priced restaurants. I ALWAYS tip unless the service is substandard. Hair stylists: When you get a good cut, tip! You can build a relationship. They usually don't make much over minimum, and appreciate the recognition. Housekeeping: Hotels overwork and underpay. Their service deserves appreciation. Holiday Bonuses: Whatever service you can afford to recognize, do. (Postal <$20 by law, garbage collectors, babysitters, etc.) Just consider the benefit and quality of the service you enjoy. Then think about the person receiving your gift and how it will enrich them. Give accordingly.