Monday, December 3, 2012

Manners Monday: Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Hi Lovelies! I still cannot believe that December is already upon us! I hope you're all enjoying some decorating, baking and preparing for the holidays. We now have just 3 weeks left until Christmas Eve! I wanted to resume our regularly schedule Manners Monday posts. As I mentioned in my previous Tipping Etiquette post, a Facebook reader (Amber Y.) asked if I could provide some insight on the topic as well as what the proper protocol and amounts are for tipping service workers during the holidays.

Whether you want to give your hair stylist a little extra something this Christmas to show your appreciation for making you even more beautiful or plan to provide a special treat for your mail carrier who never leaves your packages at the wrong house, here is a detailed list and some guidelines to consider as you decide how to thank the people in your life, if you'll be spending money and if so, how much you'd like to spend.

First and foremost, holiday thanking and tipping is a kind gesture and not an obligation, it's not something to be done if it will take you outside of your budget. If your holiday budget does not allow for tipping this year but you still want to do a little something extra, homemade gifts are a great option-sweet treats, bath salts or a beautiful knit scarf are presents from the heart that don't have to cost anything out of pocket to you except for a little time and your supplies on hand.

No matter what gift or tip amount you choose, be sure to always include a handwritten note of appreciation of a few sentences. Some things to consider when tipping are how often you tip the service provider already, how often you receive the services provided, your relationship with the service provider, the length of time you've used the company's or individual's services and the location in which you live (tipping tends to be higher in large cities). Below, you'll find guidelines for 25 key service providers, what's appropriate to give and to whom.

1. Housekeeper/Maid-Up to the amount of one week's pay and/or a small gift. If you have an irregular scheduled service such as house cleaners that come only before a big holiday event or intermittently during busy times, you can tip at your discretion based on the size of your home and how extensive the cleaning is.

2. Beauty Salon Service Providers-The cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who has provided service to you. Alternatively you could provide a small, meaningful gift to each person with a card sharing your gratitude.

3. Barber-A personal gift or the cost of one haircut would be appropriate for men who their hair cut regularly.

4. Personal Trainer- For trainers that you see weekly or multiple times per week and have built a relationship with, cash up to the cost of one session or a gift is acceptable for showing your thankfulness for helping keep you in shape.

5. Live-in Nanny or Au Pair-Since this person works closely with your family, a full week's pay along with a personal gift from your child/children is thoughtful.

6. Day Care Provider/Teacher- Whether a single individual or several staff members care for your children, provide either a gift or tip to each. A reasonable range is $25-50 per person. This same amount can also be given to teachers of young children in elementary school also.

7. Regular Babysitter- Cash is the best option in the amount of one evening's pay, you can also provide a gift from your child/children. 

8. Live-in Help- Family cooks, butlers or housekeepers should be given one week (or if you're feeling extra generous) up to one month's pay as a cash tip. Like live in Nanny's a gift from you along with a personal note card is also a thoughtful addition.

9. Private Nurse- A thoughtful gift can be given by either the person being cared for or the one responsible for paying for the care.

10. Home Health Professionals- Be sure to check with the agency before providing gifts or tips, as each has a different policy. In the case that none are accepted, you may consider making a donation to the agency. If it is not against company policy, a thoughtful gift is most appropriate.

11. Nursing Home Employees- Since many staff will interact with and care for the person living in a nursing home, a shared gift makes a lot of sense. Be sure to check the company's policy on gifts beforehand. Flowers or a basket of food items are great options.

12. Dog Walker- Up to one week's pay or a gift, increase the amount or gift size if you have multiple dogs.

13. Pet Groomer- If the same person grooms your pet throughout the year, a gift or a cash tip up to the cost of one grooming session can be given.

14. Massage Therapist/Physical Therapist-The cost of one session or a gift can be provided if you see the same person all year.

15. Trash/Recycling Collectors-Be sure to check city regulations if you have municipal services. If you have a private service, $10-$20 can be given or a gift.

16. Yard Keeper/Gardener- Cash or a gift can be given to a regular service provider from $20-$40 for a regular sized yard. For sprawling properties with many detailed shrubs and hedge work, you may wish to provide more.

17. Handyman- Cash or gift can be given in the amount of half to a full hourly rate. Typically between $30-$60.

18. Pool Cleaner- A shared gift or a cash tip in the amount of one cleaning can be given and split among the cleaning crew.

19. Superintendent- A gift or $20-$75 can be given.

20. Doorman- Cash in the amount of $15-$60 can be given or $15 or more for each of several doormen or a gift for each.

21. Elevator Operator-A gift or cash in the range of $10-$40 for each individual.

22. Garage Attendants- A cash tip of $10-$25 or a small gift.

23. Newspaper Delivery Person-Cash in the range of $10-$25 or a gift of equivalent value.

24. Mail Carrier-In the U.S., the United States Postal Service workers are not permitted to receive any form of currency such as cash tips, checks, gift cards, etc. Small gifts up to $20 are acceptable such as travel mugs, hand warmers, small gift baskets or a box of chocolates, so long as they are not part of a meal. Outside of the U.S., be sure to find out what is legally acceptable.

25. Parcel Carrier/Package Deliverer-Again, no cash can be given as with mail carriers. They may however receive a gift in the $20 range if you receive regular deliveries.

While tips can be collected from December to the end of January,  they make the most sense when given during the holiday season so anytime during the month of December is most acceptable and common. I hope you find this holiday tipping etiquette and guide helpful as you prepare your shopping list and gift budget for those who add to your life in a special way.

If you have some unique gift ideas or handmade items that you give to the service people in your life, I'd love to hear about it. Do you bake a special dessert or treat? Maybe you know of a great unisex gift? Share it in the comments below so we can all benefit from your idea. :)

Thanks for reading! There will be a lot more holiday and Christmas-related posts coming soon, I hope you'll check back in again soon. If you liked this guide, share it via Facebook, Tweet about it or Pin to Pinterest!



  1. We always do the 12 Days of Christmas for our mail carrier. It's just little things like chapstick, hand sanatizer, candy, etc. But the last gift is usually something a little bigger. This year I'm doing "Pampering in a Jar" which I found on Pinterest - cozy socks, lip balm, lotion and a piece of chocolate. My husband found out she likes Girl Scout Cookies, so for the past few years we did that as day 12, but this year we didn't get any cookies :(

    1. Sylvie, thank you so much for taking the time to share these creative and thoughtful ideas!! :) I love both the idea of the 12 days of Christmas and the Pampering in a Jar. I'm sure she'll appreciate whatever you gift to her. If you know the flavor of the Girl Scout Cookies such as chocolate mint thins perhaps you could give her a box of chocolates such as Andes thin mints for example.


Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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