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‘Tis the season for giving holiday tips. But you knew that – right? According to an October 2016 Care.com survey, 81% of people give holiday tips each year. But with all that tipping comes questions and misconceptions. Who do you tip, and how much?

Some Considerations

The Emily Post Institute reminds us that “holiday tipping is really holiday thanking.” When thinking about tipping, consider the following:

Your budget: Don’t feel the need to go beyond your budget or spend lavishly. A handmade gift, baked goods or even a heartfelt card can go a long way when money is tight.

Tipping frequency: Is this someone you’ve been tipping all year long, like a hairstylist or favorite bartender? It’s okay to go with a smaller end-of-year tip or small gift. If it’s a service provider you don’t normally tip, like a teacher or mail carrier, be a little more generous if you can.

Length of Service: Are you tipping a provider you just started working with, or is it your nanny of nine years? Think about the relationship you have with your providers and consider what they’ve done for you and/or your family.

Here are ideas for the most common tipping situations around the holidays. Remember, your mileage may vary. Use your best judgement and make sure those helping you through the year know they’re appreciated.


Babysitter/Nanny/Au pair: one night’s to one week’s pay, plus a small gift from the kids

If you have a regular babysitter or other child care staff, you probably want to keep them happy. Good babysitters are hard to find, and we trust them with our children’s lives. For longer term or live-in staff, bump up to one to two weeks’ pay, plus a small gift from the kids.

Daycare: $25–$50, plus a small gift from the kids

If your daycare has many providers and individual tips or gifts are impossible, consider sending a gift of food or flowers (with a nice card) for everyone to enjoy.

Teacher: $25–$100 gift card, plus small gift from the kids

Teaching can often be a (literally) thankless job. Take care of your kids’ teachers. You know they’ve earned it this year.

Senior care aide/Nursing home staff: $25-$100, depending on frequency

If your parents or family receive individual care, consider a personal tip. If you’d like to provide a gift to a whole center, a gift of food or flowers is always appreciated.

Service Workers

Garbage Collector: $10 to $30 each

Clearly, this is a tough and dirty job that could use a little recognition. If you can swing a gift, know that it’s appreciated (and may lead to better service).

Newspaper Delivery: $10 for weekend paper only; $20–$50 for seven days’ delivery

The days of the town paper boy are over; the majority of paper carriers are now adults.

Mail Carrier: Gift worth no more than $20 – no cash!

Before you throw cash into an envelope, make sure the recipient can actually take it. Federal workers are unable to accept cash gifts or gift cards.

Doorman: $10–$100, or a nice, personal gift if you know them well

If you live in a building with a doorperson, you know they’re on their feet all day in all sorts of weather, accepting your packages, sometimes letting your dog out, and turning away visitors you’re not in the mood to see. Always say “please” and “thank you” and at the holidays, give him (or her) a tip.

Maid/Housekeeper: One week’s pay, or a small gift for infrequent service

Consider the job this person is doing for you. For excellent service, add a little extra to let them know you appreciate all they do.

Hair stylist/Massage therapist/Manicurist: Up to the cost of one haircut, or a small gift

If you see several stylists or people in a salon, get them smaller, individual gifts rather than one large one, and make sure to give them all the same amount.

Dog walker/Pet sitter: Up to the cost of one session, or a small gift

People who care for your pets can be a real lifesaver. Not everyone remembers to tip them at the end of the year, and they will definitely appreciate the gesture.

Are you tipping anyone else this holiday season? Let us know in the comments.

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