How do you tip a friend?
December 6, 2006 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Holiday tipping: I want to tip my personal trainer...but there are complications.

Here's the long and short of it. My personal trainer and I have become very close friends. We developed our friendship out of our training appointments. I continue to train with her weekly, but we hang out socially all the time - I have met her family, been to her daughter's birthday parties, been to her house and she's been to mine a number of times, and so on.

I know that, as my personal trainer, I give her a holiday gratuity. Last year, as this friendship was developing but before it'd gotten to the point we are at now, I gave her about $150 worth of her favorite bath supplies from L'Occitane.

This year, I am confused about what to do. She's one of my best friends, so the issue is not getting her a gift. Should I combine the "friend" gift and "personal trainer" gift into one big gift, or should I give her separate gifts? I feel so awkward about this, it's driving me nuts!
posted by Not in my backyard to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't understand, why should someone tip their personal trainer? Aren't you paying for each session? Isn't it a service? Do people tip their lawyers or accountants too? (I'm not kidding, I'm really curious about this...)
posted by megnut at 2:44 PM on December 6, 2006

Just give her a nice friend gift.
posted by muddgirl at 2:46 PM on December 6, 2006

In New York, tipping during the holidays is somewhat of a sport. Here in fly-over country we are too uncivilized (or too wise?) for this.

That said I would get her a personal gift. She's no longer your personal trainer she is your friend who happens to be a personal trainer. Think gift card for a dinner.
posted by geoff. at 2:48 PM on December 6, 2006

Don't overthink this. She is a very good friend. Just give her a gift that you want to give as a close friend.
posted by JayRwv at 2:49 PM on December 6, 2006

I would buy two gifts: give the "personal trainer gift" to her after a train session and make it clear it is her "personal trainer" gift (I think it would be unfair if she loses the gratuity just because she's now your friend). Then give the "friend gift" whenever you meet again socially.

In any case you have at least doubled your expenses with this person. As any English aunt would tell you, that's what you get for getting involved with the help. Now you have to think about taking the relationship one step further during the next year, since you're probably not required to give a "personal trainer" gift to your girlfriend, as she will have other benefits.
posted by nkyad at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2006

What geoff. said. She's your friend now. Forget the personal trainer gift. Give her a nice, thoughtful friend gift.

megnut: I dont know where you're from but its customary to give christmas gifts/bonuses to people who provide you regular, personal service. A masseuse, hairdresser etc. I've seen this in New York and even here in San Francisco.

Your accountant would qualify too if its your personal and regular accountant - not someone you saw a couple times.
posted by vacapinta at 3:03 PM on December 6, 2006

I would buy two gifts: give the "personal trainer gift" to her after a train session and make it clear it is her "personal trainer" gift (I think it would be unfair if she loses the gratuity just because she's now your friend). Then give the "friend gift" whenever you meet again socially.

I agree. I once had a good friend who opened a house-cleaning business. I hired him for weekly cleanings. At the holidays I gave him two separate gifts (one a cash gratuity); the other a personal gift. He appreciated the demarcation between personal and professional. I suggest a cash gratuity( or gift certificate) for the "personal trainer gift" and something else for the "friend gift."

[BTW -- I get my hair cut by a close friend. I pay full-price, as well as tack on a 20% gratuity for him at each visit. At Christmas I give him a large gratuity at the salon and a personal present on Christmas Eve.]
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on December 6, 2006

BTW -- if she adamantly refuses a "personal trainer gift," take her out for a nice lunch. She'll appreciate that you appreciate her professional services.
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on December 6, 2006

I agree with the friends group - clearly she's a good friend now. Clearly based on last year, you know how to get good gifts so just keep that up. If you want, you can get her something extra that's more useful during work hours like gift card to a juice or coffee place but no need to say, this is for the portion of you as personal trainer - just include it with your other gift(s).
posted by jbelkin at 3:53 PM on December 6, 2006

yeah, give her a nice gift, tipping a friend's icky (tacky?)
posted by matteo at 4:57 PM on December 6, 2006

I'm assuming that she is still being paid as your personal trainer. So I think a tip to your trainer in addition to a gift for you friend is the way to go.

If you pay her in cash or by check, then put a gift card or a bonus check with the regular payment. Or you can double one payment if it's done as direct charge. That makes it clear that it's an extra thank you for the work she's done with you, and not necessarily a friendship gift.

Then, on a separate social occasion, give her a gift that is more personal.
posted by saffry at 5:36 PM on December 6, 2006

If it's not too tacky to pay her for her professional services then it's not too tacky to tip the person providing you those services - even if they happen to be a friend. I think saffry has it right - include it with your regular payment at the appropriate time in the year.
posted by phearlez at 7:00 PM on December 6, 2006

Saffry and phearlez are right. Do it exactly as saffry suggests.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:59 PM on December 6, 2006

I too have anxieties when it comes to tipping, and can especially sympathise with the position you're in.

I'm guessing it comes down to wanting to show that you appreciate the service they're doing for you as a training, but at the same point not wanting to potentially offend a friend by treating them as a service (and yes, I know they're still providing a service, and that's what makes this especially tricky).

What I would do is, at some point when you've already made an arrangement to meet later in the week/day (dinner, your house, their house, etc), then tip them after your training session, by adding a cash amount with whatever your regular payment.

This way you can give them their friend payment when you meet later, hopefully meaning that should the very slight possibility of them taking umbrage at the professional tip be a reality, it will be alleviated by the friend present which shows that you appreciate them at both levels.

Lastly, if after reading all of these completely contradicting suggestions here, the other option is to buy an especially good friend gift, then wait until the two of you are in a "friend" setting and simply tell her how distraught you were over whether you should have given her a professional tip or not. The chances are she'll be able to see the predicament you were in and find it funny.
posted by salnajjar at 9:06 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you are as close as you claim, you could just ask her.
posted by softlord at 12:04 PM on December 10, 2006

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