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Who to Tip And How Much

It always pays to be generous to the helpful people who take care of you, whether it’s a housekeeper who goes above and beyond or a hairdresser who’s extra-good to your locks. And there’s no better time to show your appreciation than during the holidays, in the form of thoughtful tips. A poll on holiday tipping by found that 45 percent of those polled say they give bigger tips to at least one type of service provider this time of year.

Why This Is the Best Time for Tipping

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“Tipping etiquette, during the holiday season, is providing something (usually cash) to those who provide you with services year-round,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews. Ramhold says that while cash might not be acceptable in every situation, gift cards or baked goods are great alternatives, especially if you don’t have the budget for giving a ton of cash tips.

“Remember that holiday tipping is all about saying thank you to those whose services you use all year, as well as even public servants you see on a regular basis (such as your mailperson),” says Ramhold.

So, how much is standard to tip at the holidays, and who should get a gift versus cash? While specific amounts will vary by your location, circumstances, and budget, here’s a handy holiday tipping guide to help answer all your etiquette questions.

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Who to Tip During the Holidays

Building Superintendent

  • $20 to $100, depending on how responsive and helpful your super has been.

Door Attendant

  • $20 to $100. If there are multiple doormen, $20 or more for each is fine; if you have only one, then the higher end of that range is more appropriate (even up to $150 to $200, at your discretion), especially if they’re friendly, do a lot for you, and/or you live in a luxury building.

Elevator Operator/Other Building Staff

  • $20 to $50. Check with your building association to see if there is a holiday tip pool that is shared by all of the building’s employees.


  • $20 to $50. If they come frequently, give up to a week’s pay. The poll found that 36 percent tip their landscaper, with average tip amount being $30.

Pool Cleaners

  • For a regular crew, the price of one cleaning, to divide among themselves. If a different employee shows up each visit, holiday tipping is unnecessary.

Newspaper Carrier

  • $10 to $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price. Sometimes you can include a tip when you pay your bill. Remember that adults usually do this job these days.


  • $15 to $40, depending on how much work you’ve had them do.

Trash and Recycling Collectors

  • $10 to $30 each for private service; for public service, check your local municipality for regulations as some areas may not allow tipping. The poll found that the average tip amount for trash and recycling collectors is $20.

Christmas Tree Carrier

  • A $20 cash tip is appropriate for home delivery; $10 for an attentive carrier who also offers service while you choose a tree; $5 if the person has just helped you bundle it up and load it onto the car.


  • If you go regularly for service, tip $20.

Gift Wrapper

  • If tips are allowed, go with $1 to $2 per package, up to $10 total.


  • Cash gifts are generally prohibited. Check with each institution’s policy before giving a gift to a medical professional. At some nonprofit institutions, a donation may be made in honor of an employee. Platters of cookies or fruit are thoughtful gifts that benefit the entire staff.

Day-Care Staff

  • A gift or cash tip in the amount of $35 to $70 for each staff member who works with your child(ren) and a small handmade gift from your child(ren). The poll reports that 41 percent of people tip their daycare provider, with the average being $50.

Dry Cleaner

  • Since it’s a team effort, consider dropping off a box of donuts or a basket of fruit for the whole staff to enjoy.

Who to Give a Gift to During the Holidays


  • In addition to any end-of-the-year bonus, give a gift or gift card worth at least $50, depending on your position in the company and the assistant’s length of service. Avoid perfume, clothing, or anything that could be perceived as too personal.


  • While not necessary, a simple gift is a nice gesture. Talk to coworkers to see if they’d like to chip in to buy a gift card or a restaurant gift certificate.


  • Don’t spend more than $25. Assuming the school allows gifts, give something such as a bookstore or restaurant gift certificate, a picture frame, a coffee shop gift card, or a homemade gift from your child, accompanied by a hand-written thank-you note. Gifts aren’t as common at middle schools and high schools where each child has five or more teachers.

Home Health Employees/Private Nurse

  • A modest gift that shows your appreciation. Cash is not a good option. Be sure to check with the agency first, as some prohibit gifts.

Nursing Home Employees

  • Check company policy. Cash is not appropriate, but something that can be shared among the staff, like chocolate, cookies, or flowers, is a great idea.

Letter Carrier/Package Courier

  • While nothing is expected, if you have a friendly relationship with the person, then a small gift or gift card in the $20 range is a nice gesture. Per United States Postal Service policy, gifts more valuable than $50 per calendar year are prohibited, as is giving cash or gift cards that can be used as cash. FedEx discourages giving tips or cash, and UPS does not have an official policy.

Nanny/Au Pair

  • A tip equal to one or two week’s pay, plus a personal gift from your child(ren), such as a framed crayon or marker portrait showing the child’s appreciation (but avoid kid-oriented gifts); an attractive handbag might score major points.

Who to Tip or Give a Gift to During the Holidays


  • Cash or a gift equal to one or two night’s pay. A personal gift from your child(ren) is always appreciated as well.


  • Up to one week’s pay and/or a gift. According to a poll, 47 percent of U.S. adults who have a housekeeper said they gave them a tip during the holidays, an average of $50.

Dog Walker

  • One week’s pay and/or a gift. While tips are the norm, a down vest or good gloves for winter walks, a massage, or other spa treatments are all thoughtful gift options.

Pet Groomer

  • A tip or gift in the ballpark of the price of one session.


  • The cost of one visit, or a gift of equivalent worth. If you deal with more than one person at a given establishment, give cash so they can split it among themselves.

Personal trainer/Yoga Instructor/Massage Therapist

  • Up to one session’s fee or a modest gift, depending on how often you see them and whether they come to your home.


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