Guide to Holiday Tipping

Tipping during the holidays is a social custom that has become increasingly popular over the years. From the pet sitter to your hairdresser, there are folks who you should consider tipping during the holiday season. For most service providers, there are standard holiday tipping rates that are important to know. There are some service professionals that you should tip at the holidays and others that you should not tip at any time.

We’ve got the lowdown on holiday tips. In this guide to holiday tipping, we’ll let you know which service professionals might be expecting a tip, how much most people give at the holidays and all of the etiquette that goes along with giving a little extra cash.

Why Give a Holiday Tip?

Most people ask some variation of the following questions about holiday tipping:

  • What’s the meaning of all this tipping? A holiday tip is simply a way to show your gratefulness and appreciation to those who provide services to you throughout the year. It’s a kind gesture of gratitude.
  • Is it mandatory? Although an extra tip at the holidays has become increasingly common, it is not mandatory and should not be expected by service professionals.
  • If I don’t tip, will I receive good service in the coming year? It’s true that people who are good tippers likely receive all sorts of special attention and stellar service. However, your overall service should not ever be based on the amount of your holiday tip. If you get the impression that you aren’t receiving good service because you didn’t leave a large enough tip during the holidays, look for another service professional.

Consider Your Budget First

When you’re thinking about tipping service professionals during the holidays, determine the amount of money you have available and let that be your first guide. While your building superintendent and gardener could surely use a little extra scratch this holiday, there’s no sense going into debt to show your appreciation.

Consider Your Relationship With the Service Provider

If you’ve only been to your group fitness class once this year, it’s OK to forego a holiday tip. On the other hand, if you’re the first one to class each Monday, you may want to give your instructor the equivalent of the price of one class as a tip.

If you have any live-in help like a nanny, housekeeper or personal chef, you may want to buy them a personal gift to go along with their holiday tips. Similarly, if you’ve formed a special relationship or friendship with any of the service professionals who help you throughout the year, a small gift, in addition to a holiday tip, is appropriate.

Always Add a Personal Touch

A tip is a very nice gesture. Nonetheless, it can seem a bit tacky to hand someone cash. It’s more polite to send the holiday tip along with a thoughtful card or even a simple, one- or two-line note wishing the recipient well in the new year. If you are sending the tip via electronic payment, be sure to add a comment.

Check the Company Policy Regarding Gratuities

While most service professionals can and will happily accept a holiday tip, some workers are not allowed. Check with the management first so that you don’t risk causing trouble for anyone.

Some companies discourage their employees from accepting tips of any kind. Others might restrict cash tips but allow modestly priced gifts. For example, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has posted the following statement regarding tips on its website, “Carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount.”

We’ve Created a Holiday Tipping Guide

If there are service professionals in your life that you’d like to thank with a holiday tip, you may be wondering how much to give. We consulted some experts in the field of manners and etiquette to find out how much you should tip your doorman, chauffeur, landscaper, and others.

Bookmark this guide for easy reference. When it’s time to send out holiday tips and gratuities for the year, you can double-check here to ensure that your tip matches the current going rate.

EFI’s Guide to Holiday Tipping

Household Help
House CleanerThe cost of one cleaning
Live-in HousekeeperOne week’s pay
In-home ChefOne week’s pay
House Sitter       The cost of one day of sitting
Caregivers and Childcare Workers
In-home Nurse $20 to $100
Babysitter                           One day’s pay plus small gift
NannyOne day’s pay plus small gift
Daycare ProviderSmall gift
School Bus Driver$10 to $20
TutorSmall gift
Child’s CoachSmall gift
Personal Services
HairdresserCost of one hair service
Nail TechnicianCost of one nail service
Massage TherapistCost of one session
Personal TrainerCost of one session
Group Fitness InstructorCost of one session
EstheticianCost of one session
Personal AssistantOne week’s pay and small gift
Chauffeur$20 to $50
Dry Cleaner$10 to $20
Pet Care
GroomerCost of one grooming session
Pet SitterCost of one day pet sitting
Dog Walker/Waste RemovalOne week’s pay
Pet DaycareSmall gift
Pet TrainerCost of one session
Kennel Staff       Small gift
Building & Maintenance Staff
Doorman or Elevator Operator$15 to $80 and small gift
Maintenance Technician$15 to $40
Janitor$15 to $40
Building Superintendent$20 to $80
Garage Attendant$10 to $30
Pool CleanerCost of one cleaning
Landscaper$20 to $50
Foodservice Professionals
Wait Staff$20 to $40
Barista$10 to $20
Bartender$20 to $40
Food Delivery Person$10 to $30
Other Service Providers
Garbage Collector$10 to $30
Postal WorkerSmall gift of less than $20
Package Delivery PersonSmall gift of less than $20
Gas Station Attendant$10 to $20
Vehicle Mechanic$10 to $40
Newspaper Carrier$10 to $30

When Cash Is Tight, Consider Other Options

Although you may want to give your hairdresser and nail technician holiday tips that reflect your gratitude, it might not be something you can afford. In that case, simple, low-cost gifts like homemade brownies, a handmade ornament or a sweet note tucked into a card is a good idea.

During December and January, Consider Giving a Little Extra

Throughout the holiday season, it’s a good idea to increase your normal tipping percentage when you’re eating out, receiving deliveries, using rideshare services or getting coffee. Spread holiday cheer a bit by rounding up or adding an extra couple of dollars to the tip jar during the holiday months.

There Are Times When Tipping Is Not Appropriate

While it may seem that anyone who provides a service for you might appreciate a little extra cash, there are some people you should not tip.

Your Doctor

You may love your doctor. The service he or she provides to you throughout the year is so very important. However, slipping your doctor a couple of $10 bills during your annual exam is not appropriate and could be seen as offensive. Consider stopping by the office with a fruit tray for your physician and staff instead.

Your Child’s Schoolteacher

Of course, you love your kid’s teacher. You might also want to supplement his or her income. Sadly, a holiday cash tip isn’t the way to do it. A gift of money could be seen as a bribe to ensure good grades or preferential treatment for your child. Stick to a batch of homemade cookies for your child’s school teacher.

Your Lawyer

Your legal counselor is not expecting a holiday tip. However, if you’ve received top-notch advice and services this year, and you’d like to offer gratitude, consider sending some pastries to your lawyer’s office.

Police, Firefighters and Other First Responders

It may seem a little odd to tip your barista but offer no gratuities to a first responder who puts his or her life on the line to serve the community. Nonetheless, it’s improper to offer a tip to police, firefighters and other first responders. Consider showing your appreciation in other ways.

Any Other White Collar Professional

Your accountant, physical therapist, psychiatrist, dentist and financial planner should not be on the list for cash tips during the holiday season. Tipping one of these professionals could even be considered insulting. However, you can show your thanks with a nice assortment of holiday cookies for the office during your December appointment.

Tip With Confidence

There are so many people who make life a little easier for us throughout the year. We’ve got people who walk our dogs while we’re at work. There are folks who clean our most delicate clothing and others who drive our children to and from preschool. Skilled individuals handle the maintenance on our vehicles and keep the pH levels just right in our gardens. It’s only natural to look for ways to thank these valuable service professionals during the holiday season.

This year, tip with confidence by using our Guide to Holiday Tipping. Show all of the service professionals in your life how grateful you are for their help all year long.