Between shopping for gifts, booking flights and buying enough groceries to feed all your houseguests, it’s easy to forget about one other holiday-related cost: tipping the people in your life that make it that much easier.
More than eight out of 10 people give holiday tips, according to a Care.com survey of 1,200 people. But figuring out who we should be tipping — and how much — can be confusing. Plus, it may not be financially possible to tip everyone you want to.
That’s why your budget is the first thing to consider when deciding how to tip, says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. Once you know realistically how much you can give, “think about the service the person provides throughout the year and the frequency of your visits,” Gottsman says. In some cases, a small gift may even suffice. “You may have to get creative. If a guide says, ‘give the cost of a service to a hairdresser,’ and you can’t afford that but make fabulous soap or candles at home, you may consider giving that instead.”
Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of EtiquetteExpert.com, suggests prioritizing your holiday tips by starting with the people you see all the time — a regular babysitter, hair stylist or housekeeper, for example. Then, consider not only what you would like to spend, but also (more importantly) what they would like to receive.
“I know my handyman goes to McDonald’s every single morning for coffee, so I got him a $30 gift card from McDonald’s last year to show my appreciation for him,” Whitmore says.
Already know who you want to gift with a little extra holiday cheer? Our guide to holiday tipping can help you figure out how much to give.
For Those Who Help With Your Home
Housekeepers: Up to the cost of one cleaning. If a head cleaner uses a team, consider tipping the teammates individually.
Trash Collectors: If there are no local restrictions on tipping public-service employees, give $10 to $25 per person.
Lawn Maintenance/Landscaper: $20 to $50
Pool Service: Equivalent of one week’s service
Apartment Superintendent: $20 to $80. You can give more if you think he or she has done a stellar job this year.
Doorman: $20 to $100. Whatever you give, consider giving each doorman the same amount to be fair.
Parking or Garage Attendants: $10 to $50
Handymen, Exterminators, other Home-Service Providers: $20 to $100
For Those Who Take Care of Your Loved Ones
Day Care Teacher: $20 to $70, plus a small gift from your child.
School Teachers: Small gift or gift card. Avoid cash, in favor of contributing to a class gift or gift certificate. Don’t forget to gift the teacher’s aide or paraprofessional.
Principal, School Nurse, School Secretary: Small gift or card.
Bus Driver, Lunch Aide: $25
Babysitter: An evening’s pay, plus a small gift from your child.
Nanny: One week’s to one month’s pay, plus a small gift from your child.
Pet Sitter/Dog Walker/Groomer: A cash gift equivalent to one service.
For Those Who Drop Off Your Packages
U.S. Mail Carrier: Per federal regulations, you can only give them a gift worth $20 or less.
UPS/FedEx Delivery Person: $20 to $25, or a small gift. FedEx drivers are allowed to receive tips and gifts under $75. While UPS prefers drivers to receive gifts, it leaves it up to the customer’s discretion.
Newspaper Delivery Person: $10 to $30
For Those Who Help With Your Self Care
Hair Stylist: $50 to $100, or a tip or gift card equivalent to one visit. With personal care, a tip should be based on the frequency with which you see a particular professional — consider giving a higher tip to a hair stylist or other professional you see every four to eight weeks.
Nail Technician: $25 to $50, or a small gift.
Personal Trainer: Up to the cost of one session.
Masseuse: Up to the cost of one session, or a small gift.