Holiday Tipping Guide for Everyone Who Makes Your Life Work

Does a babysitter get the same tip as a personal trainer? Probably not.

December 13, 2018 5:00 am
holiday tipping
Cash tips are the perfect way to say "thank you" to all the service workers in your life. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

The holiday season is full of joy, merriment, food and the all-important economy driver — gift-giving. 

You’re likely in the middle of your list by now (unless you’re like me and tore your way through Christmas shopping between Black Friday and Cyber Monday), ticking off friends and relatives as you hit “confirm shipment” or kicked it old-school on a department store’s checkout line. But what about the service industry pros in your life who assist in making it better and easier? 

Everyone from your doorman and cleaning professionals to your friendly neighborhood sanitation worker, mail carrier and dog walker deserves their own specific thanks during this, the most generous time of year. But what or how much is appropriate for each? Does the person who takes care of your child while you’re at work get the same acknowledgment as your personal trainer? Probably not. 

About 60% of Americans told Consumer Reports that they gave tips to at least one service provider during the holidays last year, indicating that it’s a popular practice nonetheless. That same survey, however, also found that Americans only doled out a total of $45 in tips last year — up $5 from 2016. But don’t let this statistic allow you to think it’s OK to be stingy or to veer from the cash-is-king rule.

“Cash is going to be most prized,” Thomas P. Farley, a New York-based etiquette expert also known as Mister Manners told CR. “Don’t forget, the people we tip may have their own tips they have to give out.”

Topping the list of who received a holiday tip, in order, were housekeepers, child-care providers, schoolteachers, hairdressers, and manicurists. Gardeners and garbage collectors were least likely to get anything at all.

Don’t forget to keep in mind those in your life who can’t accept a monetary gift for ethical reasons, like a doctor or nurse, and those who have limits on what they’re allowed to receive, like United States Postal Service employees, who have to cap it at a gift worth up to $20 and cannot accept cash at all.

For everyone else in your life, here’s how much you should consider giving this year.

Childcare Providers – Their average daily pay.

Housekeepers – The cost of one cleaning session.

Gardeners – The cost of one session or anywhere form $20 to $50 for infrequent visits.

Beauticians – Someone you see every few weeks should receive a tip on the higher end of a $50 to $100 scale.

Sanitation Workers – $20 to $30 each.

Pet-Care Provider – $10 to $20 per staff member at a daycare facility or the equivalent of an individual’s daily rate for a sitting or walking session.

Doorman or Building Superintendent – Anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on how involved and helpful they’re expected to be.

Personal Trainers – The cost of one session.

Barista, Bartender or Restaurant Server – For service industry folks you see regularly, a $20 to $40 gift is appropriate.

Club Staff – A person who waits on you frequently at private clubs should receive a $50 tip.

Driver – Someone who chauffeurs you around on a regular basis deserves a $50 nod.

Live-In Help – One to two weeks’ regular pay should go to an in-house aide to your aging or ill loved one.

Nursing Home Staff – For the staff of a facility, $10 to $20 per person or a paid-for lunch for the group is appropriate.

Home Health Aide – $25 to $100 per, depending on how often they’re in the home.

School Bus Driver – $10 to $20 per person on a rotation or $30 for a dedicated driver.

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