Tips on tipping: How much should you give during the holidays?


Tipping can be complicated enough, but when it comes to the holidays — and the gift-giving expectations that come along with them — it can get downright daunting. 

But don't tip over into despair: National etiquette expert Diane Gottsman has tips on holiday tipping during the holidays. Here are her recommendations on who gets how much:

1. The baby sitter: A cash gift equivalent to one night's pay.

2. The nanny: One week's pay and a note or drawing from your child.

3. Housekeeper: A cash gift equivalent to one day's (or week's) pay, depending on frequency.

3. Trash collector: $10 to $25 per person (Check your local regulations for public service employees to make sure there are no restrictions).

4. Lawn care employees: A cash gift equivalent to one week's pay.

5. Newspaper delivery person: $10 to $30.

6. Hairdresser/manicurist/massage therapist: A tip equivalent to one visit, a gift or a gift card.

7. Doorman: $50, depending on service provided throughout the year.

8. Garage employee: $25 to $50, depending on their level of support.

9. Dog walker: A cash gift equivalent to one day to one week's worth of service.

If you want to tip your mail and package delivery service employees, take these rules into consideration:

  • USPS: Mail carriers may not accept cash gifts or cash equivalents. They may accept a gift valued up to $20.
  • UPS: Allows drivers to accept a small gift or nominal gratuity, allowing them to use their own judgment on whether or not to accept or decline a gift.
  • FedEx: Employees can accept a gift valued up to $75, no cash or cash equivalents.

Gottsman says that when deciding who to tip, factors to take into consideration include the frequency with which you visit; the personal attention you receive and, most important, your budget. She also says you should only tip people in the service industry — not people such as your accountants, lawyers or doctors, as it could insult them.

Gottsman also recommends all holiday tips and gifts be delivered with a holiday card or note, and says they can be hand-delivered or mailed.