The ultimate holiday tipping guide

Posted at 6:49 AM, Dec 01, 2016

The holidays are the time of the year when you want to give to everyone you care about. Beyond your family and friends, it may also mean remembering (and thanking) those who provide various services for you all year long.

This includes postal works, trash collectors, hair dressers … the list goes on and on. To be honest, it can be overwhelming to know not only everyone you should tip, but also how much to tip. Tipping can also quickly take a toll on your holiday budget — if you go overboard.

This holiday tipping guide can help you figure out who to tip and how much.

When do you tip?

Try to do it early in the holiday season, if possible. If that does not work, try to do it before Christmas. Otherwise, it may not seem genuine and like you forgot and were trying to make it up to them. (If you do forget, you may opt to not do anything at all and that’s OK.)

Who do you include?

Start with the people who do the most or mean the most to you. That may mean the daycare provider or even the dog walker. Make a list of everyone whom you’d love to give a tip to, with the priorities at the top.

Then, go through your holiday budget. There should be an item on there for your tips and outside gifts. Figure out how much you can afford to give out as tips. That will help you pare down your list to those you will give something to and those you will not.

Before you make your list, consider the following:

  • Do you tip regularly? If so, you may pass on giving a holiday tip.
  • The quality and frequency of the service they provide.
  • How long have you worked with them?
  • Your relationship with them.
  • Common sense.

How much should you tip?

The amount varies greatly, but in no instance should it be extravagant or expensive. In most cases, cash is acceptable. However, there are instances where you may want to provide a small gift instead of money.

These are some of the people you may want to include, as well as an idea of how much to give each.

Nanny/Au Pair: This person lives with you and takes care of your children, so a personal gift may be better than cash. However, if you wish to do a cash bonus, one week’s pay is a good amount to consider.

Child Care Provider: Small gifts work well in this situation. You can have your child make or buy something small for each person who takes care of them. Cash gifts in the amount of $25 to $50 also work.

Babysitter: If this is not the regular provider, you can give them a small tip equal to the amount of one night’s pay.

Live-In Help: If you have a cook, housekeeper or other person who lives with you and provides services, a personal gift is usually best. If you wish to give cash, consider giving as much as one week’s pay.

Private Nurse: Cash is not usually a good idea in this situation. A small gift works best.

Home Health Worker: You will want to check with the agency regarding tipping policies before giving any gift. If allowed, something small (not cash) is usually best.

Housekeeper/Cleaner: You can give a cash tip equal to as much as one week’s pay. You can also add in a personal gift, if you desire.

Hairdresser/Barber: In most cases, you tip on a regular basis, so a holiday tip is not necessary. If you do wish to tip, an amount equal to one session is a good amount to consider.

Personal Trainer/Coach: If possible, give a personal gift. If that is not an option, tip the amount equal to one session.

Massage Therapist: If you tip regularly, no tip is necessary. Otherwise, give a small gift or a tip equal to one session.

Pet Groomer: Only provide a gift or tip if the same person grooms your pet every time. If so, give a small gift or tip equal to one session.

Dog Walker/Pet Sitter: Provide a tip equal to up to one week’s pay. You may also opt for a small gift as well (or instead).

Personal Caregiver: Anywhere from one week to one month’s pay or a small gift.

Garage Attendant: No more than $30 or a small gift.

Pool Cleaner: Cost of one cleaning — split among the crew.

Elevator Attendant/Doorman: No more than $20 per person.

Newspaper Delivery Person: Either a small gift or cash up to $25.

Package Delivery Person: Only tip if you receive regular deliveries that are brought to you by the same person. However, always check with the company regarding policies first, as many may not allow tips or gifts.

Building Super: Any amount from $20 to $75 or a small gift.

Handyman: A cash tip of no more than $40.

Trash Collectors: Check with regulations if they are city workers. You can tip anywhere from $10 to $30 each if allowed.

Yard/Garden Workers: Tip $25 to $50 per person.

Mail Carrier: There are regulations established when it comes to gifts and tips for mail carriers. If you do not abide by these rules, they will be unable to accept any gift from you. According to the U.S.P.S 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.”

It is not a requirement to tip, of course. However, it is a great time of the year to thank these people for everything they do for you and your family. Just make sure these tips and/or gifts fit into your budget. After all, you don’t want to wrap up the holidays just to realize you landed yourself in debt because of your generosity, ultimately harming your credit in the process. (You can see how your spending habits are affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on


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