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How Much Is Adequate? A Guide to Holiday Tipping

Here are a few suggestions for tipping your hairdresser, mailman, nanny …

How Much Is Adequate? A Guide to Holiday Tipping

It's the season for giving. You've mailed the holiday cards out with time to spare. But does giving include holiday tipping — a time to say thank you to those who make our lives a little bit easier year-round?

Who should be on that list?

Should we tip the mailman? How much should we spend? How do we demonstrate our appreciation without blowing
our budget?

Many in the service industry emphasize they don’t expect a tip or a gift, but they appreciate the gesture.

There are no formal, hard and fast rules about holiday tipping. Averages and ranges vary depending on family budgets and the types of services.

Etiquette expert Emily Post’s website, www.emilypost.com, offers tips on what to consider when deciding how much to spend:

  • Consider homemade gifts if your budget doesn’t allow for tips. If you aren’t crafty or handy in the kitchen, a handwritten note is always appropriate.
  • If you tip regularly at the time of service, you don’t have to tip at the end of the year. Or, you can select a small gift as a thank you.

In general, it is thoughtful at holiday time or the end of the year to tip those who serve us throughout the year, and those with whom we have a personal relationship. These tips are customarily delivered in December, before Christmas.

The table below has been culled from various sources as a guide to help plan for holiday tipping. (See www.emilypost.com and www.cnnmoney.com for more information.)

CHILDCARE, EDUCATIONAu pair or live-in nanny 
One week’s pay and a gift  from your child or children 
Regular babysitter       
One evening’s pay and a small gift from your child or children Day care provider         
$25-$50, or gift for each staff member Teacher
Homemade gift from your child; gift certificates to places like a bookstore or office supply store; Homebaked goods  
Coaches, tutors, music, dance teachers Small gift from your childNEWSPAPER, POSTAL CARRIERS, GARBAGE COLLECTORSNote: According to the USPS website, the United States Postal Service does not allow its employees to accept cash gifts. Postal Service employees may receive snacks and beverages, perishable items (i.e. flowers, chocolates, cookies) less than $20 worth; or items of small intrinsic value (i.e. pens, coffee mugs.) 
USPS Mail Carrier  
Non-cash gifts with value up to $20. Newspaper Carrier 
Daily, $25-$50; Weekend, $10 UPS Driver  
$15 for regular driver Garbage Collector No need to tip unless you know the collector.PET SERVICESDog groomer         
Cost of a session Dog walker or sitter           
1-2 week’s usual payPERSONAL CARENote: Like other service professionals, holiday tips for personal-care providers generally go to those with whom we have established relationships. Hairdressers, manicurists and massage therapists, for example, often receive gifts or cash tips from regular clients. If the person is the shop's owner, keep in mind the total cost of the service generally goes to them, so a cash tip may not be necessary. But the gesture usually is appreciated.
Cost of one session Hairdresser/stylist             
Cost of one session Massage  therapist 
Cost of one session Personal trainer 
Cost of one session 
One week’s pay. This is for a maid employed directly. For those using a service, with a different maid each time, no tip is necessary.
APARTMENT SERVICESNote: Tips to apartment staff are highly appreciated and well-noted. Cash in envelopes for the entire staff is recommended. Apartment building superintendent        
$50-$200. Tip less if you tip throughout the year. Apartment doorman/concierge 
$10-$80 or more, depending upon the building. Handyman    
$15-$40 Elevator operators 

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