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How Much to Tip 11 People for the Holidays

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The holidays can be a stressful time, filled with busy social calendars, family obligations, and last-minute shopping. On top of that, you're expected to give holiday tips to everyone from the mail carrier to the dog walker. But don’t fret! We’re here to help you figure out how much to tip 11 important people for the holidays.

1. REGULAR BARISTA

If your favorite barista knows your daily order before you even make it to the counter, you might want to give an extra holiday tip to this friendly face (who likely makes minimum wage). Rather than leave money in a communal tip jar, directly hand your barista between $5 and $20. If you don’t want to give cash, consider giving a gift card in an equal amount.

2. APARTMENT BUILDING STAFF

If you live in an apartment or condo, tip the building superintendent, doormen, and handymen. Most etiquette experts suggest that you give your super anywhere from $20 to $100, doormen $15 to $75, and handymen $15 to $35. If your doorman is particularly friendly or often collects or carries packages for you, give an amount on the higher end of the range. Holiday tip amounts may vary depending on the city in which you live and the amount of personalized attention you’ve received from your building’s staff, so if you’re unsure what to give, ask your neighbors how much they’re tipping.

3. ASSISTANT

Depending on your company’s policies, give your assistant a holiday cash bonus as well as a gift. Try to tailor your gift to what you know your assistant (or intern) likes. A gift card for $50 to their favorite coffee shop or local bookstore makes for a thoughtful present.

4. GARDENER

If you own a home and pay a gardener to regularly maintain your lawn, give a cash tip between $20 and $50. To make it easier on yourself, you can simply give your gardener the amount you pay for their regular weekly or biweekly service. And if you’ll be out of town for the December holidays, give your gardener the tip at the beginning of January—it’s not too late!

5. MAIL CARRIER

The United States Postal Service has strict rules for the types of holiday tips and gifts that mail carriers can accept, regardless of how many excess packages he or she has been delivering to your door. Rather than give cash, a check, or a gift card—all of which your mail carrier can’t accept—give a small gift worth less than $20. Sweet treats, baked goods, or a simple pair of gloves make a nice gesture.

6. HAIR STYLIST

During your regular appointment in December or January, tip your hair stylist or barber up to the amount that one hair cut usually costs you. If you've been seeing the same hair stylist for years, give him or her a gift card to their favorite restaurant, clothing store, or spa. The more personal the gift, the better.

7. TEACHER

The teachers, tutors, and coaches who educate your kids appreciate a holiday gesture. Some schools prohibit teachers from accepting money from parents, so play it safe by giving a thoughtful thank you card along with a small gift, such as a book, picture frame, or plant.

8. CLEANING PERSON

If you have a cleaning person tidy up your home, give him or her between 50 and 100 percent of what you usually pay for one service. So if your cleaning person charges you $100 for one visit, give a holiday tip of $50 to $100. If you don’t want to give cash, you can also give a gift card, thank you note, and box of holiday pastries.

9. PERSONAL TRAINER

Whether you regularly work out with a personal trainer, yoga teacher, or Pilates instructor, consider tipping the cost of one session with them. You can also give them a gift card to a local spa or department store. Just keep in mind that your personal trainer probably won't appreciate getting cookies, candy canes, or other holiday treats loaded with sugar (and you might not want to admit that you've been snacking on them either!).

10. DOG WALKER

We entrust pet groomers, dog walkers, and pet sitters with our beloved furry friends, so definitely remember to tip them the cost of one normal service. For example, if you typically pay your pet groomer $30 per session, pay him an extra $30 during the holidays. If you have a particularly close relationship with your dog walker or pet sitter, give more money.

11. BABYSITTER

Whether you occasionally pay a neighborhood teenager to babysit your kids or you have a live-in nanny, the people who care for your children will probably expect a holiday tip. Have your children write a thank you note to their babysitter or nanny, and include cash or a check for an amount equal to one day’s pay (for an occasional babysitter) to one week’s pay (for a full-time nanny). And if your babysitter is on vacation during the end of December, make sure to give a New Year’s tip at the beginning of January.

All images via iStock.

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Interactive Chart Tells You How Long It Takes to Get Frostbite
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For many people, winter means dry skin and high heating bills. But if you find yourself outdoors in the right conditions, it can also mean frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue beneath it freezes, causing pain, loss of sensation, or worse. It's easier to contract than you may think, even if you don't live in the Siberian tundra. To see if frostbite poses a threat where you live, check out this chart spotted by Digg.

The chart, developed by Pooja Gandhi and Adam Crahen using National Weather Service data, looks at three factors: wind speed, air temperature, and time spent outdoors. You can hover your cursor over data-points on the table to see how long you'd need to be exposed to certain wind chills for your skin tissue to freeze. If the wind chill is -22°F, for example (10°F air temperature with 5 mph winds), it would take 31 minutes of being outside before frostbite sets in. You can also look at the time scale above the chart to calculate it a different way. If you bring your cursor to the 40-minute mark, a window will tell that frostbite becomes a risk after exposure to -17°F wind chill for that amount of time. You can play with the interactive table at Tableau Public.

Chart of cold weather conditions.
Adam Crahen, Pooja Gandhi

If you can't avoid being outside in extreme wind and cold, there are a few steps you can take to keep your skin protected. Wear lots of layers, including multiple socks, and wrap your face with a scarf or face mask before venturing into the cold. Also, remember to stay hydrated. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, drinking at least one glass of water before going outside decreases your risk of contracting frostbite.

[h/t Digg]

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Flurry Road: 5 Tips for Safe Driving on Winter Roads
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For drivers in the Upper Midwest, traveling during the winter can range from slightly unsettling to deadly. Between 2011 and 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center, an average of 800 fatalities occurred annually as a result of weather-related accidents. Icy roads, poor visibility, and other factors can make cold-weather commuting a dicey proposition.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can increase our odds of navigating slush-filled roadways successfully. Mental Floss spoke with American Automobile Association (AAA) driving education expert William Van Tassel, Ph.D., for some key tips on how to get your winter driving in gear.

1. GATHER SUPPLIES.

Before you even start your car up for a trip through inclement weather, Van Tassel recommends you pack a worst-case scenario trunk full of supplies. “In case of emergency, you want things on board like water, a blanket, a flashlight, gloves, and kitty litter,” he says. (That last one is for traction in case you get stuck in a snowbank.) You should also have road flares, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a fully-charged cell phone to call for assistance if needed.

2. SLOW DOWN.

Posted speed limit signs assume you’re driving on clear and clean roadways. If snow or ice has accumulated, you need to adjust your speed accordingly. “In slick conditions, tires lose a lot of traction,” Van Tassel says. “You should be cutting your speed down by half or more.” Unfortunately, a lot of people learn this the hard way. “After a snowstorm, we’ll see more crashes on day one than days two or three.”

Van Tassel also cautions to avoid becoming overconfident on snow tires. While they provide better traction in bad weather, it’s not license to speed up.

3. MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM OTHER CARS.

You should be doing this regardless, but bad weather makes it even more crucial. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance from cars behind, in front, and off to the sides, as well as away from pedestrians or cyclists. If you need to brake suddenly, you need time—and space—to avoid a collision. “You really want more space in front,” Van Tassel says. Try to stay between seven and 10 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. That means seeing a landmark and then counting down until you pass the same marker. If you’re only a few seconds behind, you’re too close.

4. DON’T STEER INTO SKIDS.

“That was an old rule of thumb,” Van Tassel says. “The problem is, by the time I remember to steer into a skid, I’m already in a ditch.” If you feel your vehicle sliding, it’s better to steer in the direction you want to go. “You’ll drive where you look, so don’t look at a telephone pole.”

To help maintain control of the car, you want to focus on doing one thing at a time. “If you’re going through a turn, brake, finish braking, then turn. Don’t brake and turn at the same time.”

5. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON.

Yep, even in broad daylight. Bad weather limits visibility, and headlights allow both you and your fellow drivers to orient a vehicle. “You’re twice as visible to other drivers that way,” Van Tassel says. “When people can see you, they can avoid you.”

Van Tassel also recommends that drivers avoid relying on fancy car technology to keep them safe. While blind spot monitoring and lane changing sensors are useful, they’re not there so you can zone out. “The tech is there to back you up if you need it. Drive the car, but don’t rely on those things,” he says.

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