17 People You Should Tip for the Holidays
The holiday season is prime time to give back. So who gets a holiday tip this year – and how much?
The rules for holiday tipping are a little different this year. Delivery workers are working double-time, and service industry workers are seeing fewer clients and putting their health on the line -- so consider adding a little something extra to the extra you’d ordinarily share this time of year.
When you can, try to leave tips this year without using cash, or better yet, without contact of any kind -- via a mobile wallet, tap-to-pay credit/debit card readers, or an app such as Venmo.
So who gets a holiday tip this year – and how much?
Holiday thanking recommendations vary depending on the service provided, according to the Emily Post Institute, America’s most well-known arbiter of etiquette. “The root of the word gratuity is the same as the root of the word gratitude. Approach it with a spirit of gratitude and appreciation,” says Daniel Senning of Emily Post. But tipping can and should be done within a budget, he says. “It can add up fast, so set up a budget ahead of time.”
Of course, not all professions can accept tips. Sometimes, a tip may be inappropriate or demeaning. Read on to identify 17 types of people in your life who might deserve a holiday tip.
U.S. Postal Workers
- Suggested Tip: A small gift no more than $20
When it comes to United States Postal Service workers, mail carriers are typically allowed to accept certain items as gifts during the holiday season such as snacks and beverages or perishable gifts that are not part of a meal, and small gifts that have little intrinsic value (travel mugs, hand warmers, etc.) and are clearly no more than $20 in value. Perishable items clearly worth more than $20 (large fruit baskets or cookie tins) must be shared with the entire branch. And postal workers typically may not accept cash gifts, checks, gift cards, or any other form of currency.
However, during the pandemic, individual employees may accept free supplies, materials or services related to the COVID-19 crisis, according to a new U.S. Postal Service policy introduced this year. This includes restaurant or store gift cards, as long as the value of the gift is $20 or less and you don’t provide any single employee with gifts that exceed $50 during a given year. However, food or refreshments are no longer accepted as gifts.
Suggested Tip: A basket of pre-packaged goods
On the other hand, FedEx drivers are prohibited by work rules from accepting payments from customers; UPS drivers are not barred from taking tips but are encouraged to say no. For them, you might leave a basket of pre-packaged goods at your door as a form of gratuity.
Your Newspaper-Delivery Person
- Suggested Tip: $10 to $30
If you tip regularly throughout the year, give your newsie just a few dollars. Or instead of cash, you can give a small gift, according to the Emily Post Institute.
Some newspapers, such as The Washington Post, offer the option of giving a tip to your delivery person online through your subscriber account. But even if you go digital with your tip, you might consider giving your carrier a nice note — both to express your appreciation and to ensure he knows you tipped him.
Your Childcare Provider
- Suggested Tip: At least a week's pay, plus a small gift from your child
As someone who works closely with you and your child, your nanny or au pair should be at the top of your tip list. If someone has worked with you for several years or has provided outstanding service, you may bump up the amount.
For your regular babysitter — someone you've had watch the kids frequently throughout the year or for last-minute emergencies — one night's pay is appropriate.
A day-care provider might deserve $25 to $70, but check with the facility's policies first.
Your Trash and Recycling Collectors
- Suggested Tip: $10 to $30 each
You might hear them coming and going every trash day. But instead of rolling over and hitting the snooze button, around this time of year, consider throwing on your fuzzy slippers and bathrobe and catching some face time with your trash collectors. You should hand them their tips in an envelope with a nice note or holiday card directly. If you can't catch them in person, track down the corporate address, where you could mail or drop off a card and a check.
But first check on the rules for your municipality. Some jurisdictions forbid workers from accepting cash, according to the Emily Post Institute.
- Suggested Tip: $25 to $100 each
The higher end of our suggested range, or even more if you can afford to be extra-generous, is for those who help you the most or provide exceptional service (think: heavy grocery-bag luggers or expert taxi-cab hailers). And in high-end neighborhoods (hello, Upper East Side), doormen might be used to pocketing those bigger tips. “When in doubt, ask around,” says Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute. But if a neighbor tells you that she's tipping twice as much as you can afford, don't feel obliged to match it.
Also be sure to check with your building association first. You may be able to contribute to a collective fund that will be distributed appropriately to staff members.
Your Child's Teacher
- Suggested Tip: A thoughtful gift
A tip for a teacher could look like a bribe. But a small gift accompanied by a note or drawing from your child is a nice thank-you for an educator's hard work.
Or pool your resources with other parents to buy the teacher a gift card. Just be sure to first check the policies of your child's school: If gifts are forbidden, a note of appreciation is always appropriate.
Your Regular Cleaning Person
- Suggested Tip: The cost of one visit
This amount is considered fitting if he or she visits weekly or biweekly, says Rosanne Thomas, author of Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette. Increase the amount for someone who works more often or has been providing you service for several years. Likewise, you could cut it for someone you tip throughout the year or whose services haven't been outstanding.
Your Regular Hairstylist or Barber
- Suggested Tip: The cost of one visit
If you have multiple salon staff members who work on your 'do (if, say, one person shampoos and another person cuts), the Emily Post Institute says to divide the cost of one visit between them proportionately. And consider including a small gift for a stylist who doubles as a confidant. If you don't regularly visit your salon or barbershop throughout the year, you may prefer to give about $20 as a tip during your December visit. But if you typically do and haven’t been in as much this year due to the pandemic, consider padding your tip a little bit. The cost of two visits, rather than just one, would go a long way. And a handwritten note of appreciation is always in order.
Your regular manicurist should receive the cost of one visit as a tip, too.
Your Regular Dog Groomer
- Suggested Tip: Up to the cost of a session
If you bring your pet to the same person year-round for grooming, anywhere from half the cost to the full bill of a session is appropriate. Or a personal gift may suffice.
For a dog walker, you might consider tipping one day's pay, unless he or she walks your dog five days a week or more, says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of etiquette consultant Mannersmith. In that case, give up to a week's pay or a small gift. Or you can substitute a gift for a cash tip, according to the Emily Post Institute.
A Personal Caregiver
- Suggested Tip: One week to one month of pay
A senior care aide employed personally by an individual or family might deserve at least a week's pay as a holiday bonus. For a caregiver you work with through an agency, you'll need to check the company's policy. Same goes for nursing-home workers. At some facilities and agencies, workers may be tipped through a fund run by the central administrator; at others, gifts and tips may be banned. When bringing savory or home-baked goods to nursing-home staff, who offer round-the-clock care for your loved one, "make sure to cover every shift," says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman.
If you're not permitted to tip, a special treat, such as homemade cookies or fudge, is a good way to thank someone who has been exceptionally kind and attentive. You might also consider making a donation to the organization in that person's name.
Your Personal Trainer
- Suggested Tip: Up to the cost of one session
After sweating it out with your trainer all year long, you might find you've become quite close with him. Consider this generous tip especially if you have an ongoing relationship with the professional and believe you have received above-average service. Besides, you might need him to give your sessions a bit of a boost after you've gobbled up some of those holiday feasts and treats.
Your Building's Handyman
- Suggested Tip: $20 to $100
For a handyman in your building who makes repairs for you regularly, a tip is a nice gesture. Tilt your tip toward the higher end of the range if the handyman is available at all hours and does repairs at a moment's notice. But if you're an apartment dweller, be sure to check your building association's policy before tipping any of its workers. Some may collect lump sums from residents and then divvy up the contributions between the appropriate people.
If you will be tipping on your own, you may want to reward others who help you in your apartment or condo building, too. A superintendent should get about $25 to $100 each (higher tips are for those who help you the most or provide exceptional service yearlong). You might give a custodian $20 to $50.
Your Massage Therapist
- Suggested Tip: The cost of one visit
Especially for someone you see regularly throughout the year, it's a small price to pay for her year-long gift to you — some peace of mind and physical rehabilitation and relaxation. Or you could substitute the extra cash with a nice gift.
Your Golf or Tennis Pro
- Suggested Tip: A nice gift
Golf or tennis pros are salaried employees and do not expect a tip for their services. In fact, they might even be insulted by such a gesture, says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman. But after improving your game by another year's worth of lessons, you might consider getting her a thoughtful gift or batch of baked goods to show your appreciation. Same goes for your kids' various instructors.
Landscapers and Gardeners
- Suggested Tip: $20 to $50 per person
The crew who keep your yard verdant will appreciate a little extra green in their pockets. If you have one gardener who comes regularly, rather than a group, provide the cost of one visit or up to one week's work.
Parking Garage Attendant
- Suggested Tip: $10 to $50
Frequently park your car in the same public garage? Consider tipping each attendant who provides you with service regularly. Attendants who go the extra mile -- or who work in regions with a high cost of living -- deserve tips at the higher end of the range.