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Who to tip and who to skip this holiday season

Navigating the holiday-tipping process can be awkward; not everyone should receive a holiday tip and not all services are created equal. Your holiday-tipping strategy really boils down to budget, frequency of service, tradition and the type of relationship you have with the people who provide the services that make your life easier.

Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to embrace the holiday spirit of giving and show appreciation for the role these people play in your life. Then again, no one likes the feeling of uncertainty that comes with not knowing the proper etiquette for this sort of thing, especially when these people receive tips from many customers.

How much you give and who you decide to give to are personal decisions, but here is a general guide for who to tip and who to skip during the holidays.


-Caregiver, private nurse, teacher, tutor and babysitter

Cash gifts are a well-deserved token of appreciation for the hard work and care these workers put into looking after our loved ones. Individual gifts can range from $25 to $100; but if the care is done in a group setting, like a daycare or classroom, it’s common for families to pool their resources to give a larger cash gift or gift card.

-Doorman, elevator operator and garage attendant

Each doorman, elevator operator and garage attendant typically receives at least $15 depending on the type of building, the level of service and traditions of its occupants. Ask your neighbors or the building manager for advice if you aren’t sure.

-Hairstylist, barber, massage therapist, manicurist and aesthetician

If you see any of these workers more than every six weeks and consistently, it’s common courtesy to tip the equivalent of one typical visit. Depending on which services you receive, however, this might be out of your price range. If so, a holiday tip ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent is also appropriate. If you don’t have an established relationship with any of these people a standard tip is acceptable.

-Personal trainer or instructor

If you see your trainer or instructor often and have a close relationship, a standard holiday tip runs the equivalent of one session. Again, if this is unaffordable, a small cash gift, gift card or personal token of appreciation is also acceptable.


Common etiquette says you should tip a housekeeper the equivalent of one home cleaning or one week’s pay if your home receives a cleaning every day. If this is out of your budget, consider adding at least 25 percent to your next bill or giving a small personal gift instead.

Newspaper delivery person

A small gift between $10 and $20 is more than acceptable for the person who consistently delivers the morning paper right to your doorstep. It’s not uncommon for the delivery person to leave a small envelope on your doorstep to make this process simple.

-Garbage collector

This job is one of the most overlooked during holiday tipping time. In many cases, garbage collectors go above and beyond their duties to make sure our overstuffed garbage cans and recycling bins are emptied with care. Check your city’s regulations, as some areas do not allow tipping. If it is permitted, you can show your appreciation with a cash gift of $10 to $20 per person.

-Dog walker, handyman and gardener

A typical holiday tip can run from $20 to the cost of one week’s service depending on how often service is provided and length of employment.


-Business owners

Traditionally, business owners don’t receive tips at any time during the year and the holidays are no exception. If you want to show your appreciation, consider giving an edible gift the entire staff can share, like a box of candy or a fruit arrangement.

-Postal workers

Mail carriers that work for the United States Postal Service are prohibited from accepting cash, gift cards and checks of any amount, or any gift worth more than $50 from any one customer in a calendar year. You can give a small token of appreciation, like baked goods or a small gift, like a travel mug.

-Salaried staff

It’s typically unusual to tip salaried staff like retail salespeople, office administrators and managers.

-Taxi and ride share drivers

It’s customary to tip a taxi driver no matter what time of year it is — you don’t need to go above and beyond during the holiday season. For ride share drivers, the tip is usually included in the fare and you don’t need to tip extra.

-Package courier

FedEx allows gifts worth up to $75, but cash gifts are unacceptable; UPS does not have an official policy on holiday tipping. Unless you are receiving numerous deliveries each year, you do not need to tip these workers.

-Home health or nursing home employees

Many agencies have a policy forbidding these workers from accepting gifts and cash tips. Check with the agency first.

-Servers and delivery people

Many times the tip is already standard or included for these services. You can increase your tip if the service is particularly good, but an additional holiday tip is not expected.

-Your boss

Giving your boss a holiday tip or gift is not necessary. If you want to make a nice gesture, consider coordinating a gift from the entire department or taking your manager out for a cup of coffee or lunch.

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