Holiday Tipping Guide

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Making your list and checking it twice? Part of your holiday preparations may include tipping the helpful people in your life. Figuring out how much to give can be a challenge any year, but between post-pandemic living and rising inflation, knowing what is the "new normal" is in terms of who should be tipped and how much adds a little more complexity.

To help, we’ve done a little research on best practices and rounded up some general guidelines below. Note: Keep in mind, these are general suggestions. What you can and want to give will depend on your situation and some regional nuances.

Before we get into specific amounts, here are some factors to consider when deciding how much you should tip (and if you even need to give one):

Factors to consider when holiday tipping 

What is your relationship to this person? Someone you see regularly and that you’ve been seeing for years is more likely to be on your holiday tipping list versus someone you couldn’t pick out of a line.

  • Is the same person providing the service each time? If different people are providing the service each time (say a different dog walker each week), you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip them.
  • Do you already tip this person regularly? If you tip this person each time you see them (e.g., your hairdresser), your end of year tip might be more modest than someone you don’t regularly tip (e.g., your housekeeper).
  • Are you satisfied with their service? Tipping is a way to show sincere appreciation and isn’t mandatory.
  • Do you live in a major city or small town? On average, larger cities tend to see bigger tips than small towns.
  • Is this person also the business owner? Generally, if it’s the business owner who provides the service, it’s not necessary to tip them.

How much should you tip the doormen and building staff?

Again, where you live and the type of building you live in are going to matter here. Expect to shell out more for staff if you own a unit in luxury high-rise in New York City than you would for the staff if you're a renter in a small apartment building in Tampa.

You’ll also want to factor in the length of time you’ve lived in a certain building, the seniority of the staff and the quality of service. Also: Both renters and owners tip, but owners usually tip more since they have more financial stake in the building.

Here’s a range of tip amounts according to Brick Underground. Keep in mind these numbers are based on New York City apartments, so you may consider adjusting based on where you live.

  • Super, resident manager: $150-$300 on average (broad range: $100 – $500)
  • Doorman and/or concierge: $75 – $200 on average (broad range: $50 – $1,000)
  • Porter, handyman, and maintenance staff: $25 – $30 on average (broad range: $20 – $100)
  • Garage attendant: $25 – $75 on average (broad range $20 – $100)

What about everyone else?

For everyone else in your life, we’ve gone straight to the ultimate source of all things etiquette. Here’s a list of tipping guidelines from the Emily Post Institute: 

People who regularly take care of your home

  • Housekeeper: Cash of up to one week to one month of pay, plus a gift
  • Pool cleaners: Up to the cost of one cleaning to be split among the crew (if it’s a regular crew)
  • Handyman: $15 – $40
  • Landscaper/gardener: $20 – $50

People who regularly take care of your children (or pets)

  • Au-pair or live-in nanny: Cash of up to one weeks’ pay and a gift from your children
  • Regular babysitter: Cash of up to one evening’s pay and a small gift from your children
  • Day care provider: Cash or a gift of $25 – $70 for each staff member who works with your child(ren) and a small gift from your child(ren).
  • Dog walker: Up to one weeks’ pay or a gift
  • Dog groomer: Up to the cost of one session or a gift

People who regularly take care of you

For the people in your life who regularly make you look or feel good – barbers, hairdressers, personal trainers, massage therapists – tip up to the cost of one session or visit.

Who should you not tip?

USPS employees are not allowed to accept cash tips, though they are allowed to receive gifts that are valued at $20 or less. NYC municipal employees (such as the sanitation crew) are also not allowed to accept tips.

For home health and nursing home employees, check with the agency on the tipping policy.

Similarly, for teachers, check your city’s policy on what sort of gift you’re allowed to give.

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