Who Do You Holiday Tip?

The mailman? Garbage collector? Your kid's teacher? Who should you tip for the holidays and how much should you give?

There are so many people who take care of us year-round, it’s hard to know who to tip and how much you should give during the holidays. Fortunately, Emily Post makes it easy. Unfortunately, she must think we’re made of money! The big things to keep in mind…

  • How is the quality and frequency of the service you receive?
  • Your relationship with the service provider.
  • How long have you been receiving service from this person.

But remember, always stay within your budget. You should never feel obligated to tip out more than you feel comfortable spending. Something homemade can be just as nice. A card works, too.

Emily Post’s Holiday Tipping Recommendations

The following table contains some general rules from Emily Post – Holiday Tipping on how much to give to whom, but are just suggestions.

Service Provider Options Suggested Amount or Gift
Au pair or live-in nanny Cash or consider a gift. This person works closely with your family and you probably know them well. One week’s pay and a gift from your child(ren).
Regular babysitter Cash One evening’s pay and a small gift from your child(ren).
Day care provider Cash or a gift for each staff member who works with your child(ren). A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member and a small gift from your child(ren).
Live-in help (nanny, cook, butler, housekeeper) Cash and a personal gift One week to one month of pay as a cash tip, plus a gift from you.
Private nurse Gift A thoughtful gift from you.
Home health employees Check with agency first about gifts or tipping policies. If there is a no gifts/tipping policy, consider a donation to the agency. A thoughtful gift from you. (If gift-giving is not against company policy.)
Housekeeper/Cleaner Cash and/or a gift Up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift.
Nursing home employees A gift (not cash). Check company policy first. A gift that could be shared by the staff (flowers or food items).
Barber Cash or gift Cost of one haircut or a gift.
Beauty salon staff Cash or gift depending on whether you tip well after each service. The cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. Give individual cards or a small gift each for those who work on you.
Personal trainer Cash or gift Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
Massage therapist Cash or gift Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
Pet groomer Cash or gift (if the same person grooms your pet all year). Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
Dog walker Cash or gift Up to one week’s pay or a gift.
Personal caregiver Cash or gift Between one week to one month’s salary or a gift.
Pool cleaner Cash or gift The cost of one cleaning to be split among the crew.
Garage attendants Cash or small gift $10-30 or a small gift
Newspaper delivery person Cash or small gift $10-30 or a small gift
Mail carrier Small gift only Please see below for a detailed description of the United States Postal Service’s gift regulations.*
Package deliverer Small gift only, no cash. (Only if you receive regular deliveries.) Small gift in the $20 range. Most delivery companies discourage or prohibit cash gifts.
Superintendent Cash or gift $20-80 or a gift
Doorman Cash or gift $15-80. $15 or more each for multiple doormen, or a gift.
Elevator operator Cash or gift $15-40 each
Handyman Cash or gift $15 to $40
Trash/Recycling collectors Cash or gift (for private) check city regulations if it is a municipal service. $10-30 each
Yard/Garden worker Cash or gift $20-50 each
Teachers Gift (not cash) A small gift or note from you as well as a small gift from your child.

Final thoughts: First, offer gratuities for exceptional service, not out of obligation.

Second, manners maven Emily Post was a very rich woman. Practically nobody lives at the level of luxury that would allow giving that much money to the many people listed in her table. So if you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number and amount of gifts you’re “supposed” to give, here’s a suggestion: ignore this table entirely. There are lots of ways we make each other feel appreciated and most don’t involve money at all.

Here at Money Talks News, we get plenty of notes from viewers that tell us how much our advice is appreciated and how much it matters. Think we’d swap a single one of those notes for cash? Not a chance. So if you’re short on cash this holiday season, remember that life is about making people smile, not making them rich. And making people smile with a simple acknowledgement and/or a hug doesn’t cost a dime.

Happy Holidays!

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