Your Holiday Tipping Guide: How to Be Santa, Not Scrooge
Life + Money

Your Holiday Tipping Guide: How to Be Santa, Not Scrooge


While whittling down your holiday gift list for loved ones, don’t forget all the other people who’ve made your life easier, often behind the scenes. 

Small gifts or even monetary tips, along with a hand-written note, show your appreciation for the people who provide regular services for you and your family throughout the year.

Related: Tips on Holiday Tipping: How Not to Go Broke

Seven in 10 families intend to tip this season, according to a recent survey from, with a third planning to spend between $101 and $250 on tips. Three in five families say they prefer to give a mix of cash and actual gifts. 

“Although we may say a verbal thank you throughout the year, it is it important that we show gratitude in a more tangible way at the end of the year,” lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann writes in an email.

Here’s a stress-free guide outlining what to give to whom, courtesy of etiquette experts Diane Gottsman and Swann along with The Etiquette School of New York. If your budget is already strained, remember: Most people will appreciate any gift, no matter the size. It’s the thought that matters most.   

Building Superintendent
Tip: $50 to $100, depending on how responsive and obliging your super has been. 

Tip: $25 to $150 for each doorman if he or she is friendly, accepts frequent deliveries for you, or has a long-standing relationship with you.    

Elevator Operator/Other Building Staff
Tip: $25 to $50. But first find out from your building association if there is a tip pool for the building staff.

Tip: $20 to $50 for occasional landscapers. Up to a week’s pay for frequent landscapers. 

Newspaper Carrier
Tip: $25 to $50 for carriers who deliver daily. $10 for carriers who deliver once a week. 

Mail Carrier
Gift: Small gift or homemade treat worth less than $20. U.S. Post Office workers aren’t allowed to accept cash, checks, gift cards or any cash equivalents as a tip. 

Regular UPS Driver
Tip: $20. 

Regular FedEx Driver
Gift: Worth up to $25. 

Tip: $25 to $40, depending on the amount of work he or she has done for you. 

Trash/Recycling Collectors
Tip: $10 to $20 for each collector. First check local regulations for tipping public-service employees. 

Car Wash Attendant
Gift: Offer a communal gift, like a plate of cookies, if you visit regularly.
Tip: $5 to $10 for any standout employee. 

Dog Walker
Tip: Equivalent of one week’s service for daily dog walkers. Equivalent of one walk for occasional dog walkers. 

Pool Cleaner
Tip: The cost of one cleaning. If only one cleaner, a gift of equal value is also appropriate. 

Babysitter or Nanny
Tip: One week to one month’s pay.
Gift: Have older child give a small handmade gift, too. 

Tip: Equivalent of one week’s pay. A little less if the housekeeper comes less frequently. 

Long-Term Care Nurses or Private Caregivers
Gift: If multiple nurses assist you or your loved one, give a shareable gift.  Check with the hospital first for any restrictions.
Tip: One week to one month’s pay, or gift of equal value for private caregivers. 

Related: Which Credit Card In Your Wallet Is Offering Holiday Deals

Barber or Hair Stylist
Tip: Equivalent of one service, or gift of equal value for regular barbers or stylists. 

Shampoo Person
Tip: $10 or small gift. 

Child’s Extracurricular Instructors (such as private tutors, sport coaches or dance teachers)
Gift: Small gift from your child. 

Tip: $15 to $25, or a small gift. 

Massage Therapist
Tip: $15 and up, or a small gift.

Personal Trainer
Tip: Cost of one session, or gift of equal value. 

Gift: Small gift from you and one from your child. Cash could look like you’re trying to get preferential treatment. 

School Principal
Gift: A thoughtful, handwritten note would be much appreciated.