The holiday season isn't just for remembering friends and family; it's also a chance to thank those who provide regular services. Maybe you've got an especially attentive postal carrier who makes sure your packages arrive safely at your doorstep, a hairdresser who always makes you look like a million bucks, a doorman who welcomes you home with a smile, or a trusted caregiver who makes your aging parent feel comfortable. For all of these people and more, we consulted several trustworthy sources to compile some tips for holiday tipping.
Be sensible about giving holiday tips
First things first: While holiday tips are a time-honored way to express thanks and appreciation, you shouldn't bust your budget to do so, experts say. Nor is money the only way to wish someone happy holidays, say the etiquette pros at EmilyPost.com. A heartfelt note of thanks can be appreciated, too.
If you do plan to say thanks with a holiday gift, remember: Not everyone can accept cash. Laws and/or ethical guidelines bar mail carriers, teachers, health care workers and others from accepting tips. But with some imagination, you can still express your thanks to these workers with a small gift, and the website CouponSherpa.com offers several hints.
There are other things to consider as well. For starters, don't feel obligated to tip for the mere sake of doing so. If you regularly tip your stylist or deliveryman, a tip at the holidays -- while surely appreciated -- isn't essential. A thoughtful note or small gift is a reasonable substitute. Likewise, say the experts at EmilyPost.com, a big tip is more appropriate for someone with whom you have an established relationship, like your longtime babysitter or a trusted doorman, than it is for someone who's new to the job or whom you may not know, like a lawn or pool service that always sends different workers to your home.
And remember, you should not feel obligated to tip if you feel the quality of service has been consistently lacking throughout the year.
Holiday tipping guide
We found several useful articles on holiday tipping, and most sources agree on what an average tip should be. We consulted CNBC, Real Simple magazine, Fox Business News, as well as the blogs Brick Underground and Frugal Dad, in addition to the sources we mentioned already.
|$100 to $200 -- more if you live in a big city like New York or in an upscale building, less for cities where the cost of living is lower or you live in a more modest dwelling|
|Apartment/condo doorman||$50 to $150 -- more if you live in a big city like New York or in an upscale building, less for cities where the cost of living is lower or you live in a more modest dwelling|
|Other building staff||$20 to $50, depending on your interaction with them|
|Live-in nanny/au pair||One week's salary|
Amount equivalent to one night's pay
|Doctors, dentists, home health care attendant, nursing home attendant||Cash is almost never appropriate for legal or ethical reasons. A small gift that can be shared (such as food) is appropriate for someone who works as part of a team, while a more personal gift is suitable for someone whom you have an established relationship with.|
|Lawn/pool care||$20 to $50|
|Newspaper delivery||$10 to $30, or the equivalent of a month's subscription|
|Dog walker/groomer/pet sitter||Amount equivalent to one session|
|Personal care/grooming (barber, hairdresser, masseuse, personal trainer, manicurist, etc.)||Amount equivalent to one session or appointment|
|Housekeeper/cleaning service||Amount equivalent to one visit|
|Teachers, tutors||Check with your school to see what is and is not allowed. Gift cards in the range of $25 are often appropriate for teaching supplies, a favorite restaurant or coffee shop, but cash is not acceptable.|
|Trash collectors||Check with your municipality to see if gifts can be accepted. For private services, $10 to $30 is appropriate.|
|Mail carriers||U.S. Postal Service employees cannot accept cash, but a small gift or thank-you note is appropriate, as is a gift card of less of $20 or less.|