Holiday Tipping Guide 2020: Who to tip and how much to give to everyone

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Starting to see the end of the rainbow for your holiday gift list of family, friends and in-laws? It’s time to think about giving a little something to the service people in your life, too. Knowing how much to tip the people who walk your dog, cut your hair or care for your grandmother can be downright confusing. Do you give a holiday tip to everyone who provides you a service — or just the folks you see on a regular basis? Also, should you give cash or a present?

For Julie Harshaw of Davie, Florida, tipping just about everyone who provides her family with a service is a top priority every year. “I make sure to tip the people who do any work for us,” she said. “Because I feel as though people work hard, put in long hours and should be given a holiday tip or a gift.”

Approximately six in 10 Americans say they tip at least one of the most common types of service providers like hair stylists, housekeepers, mail carriers and pet care providers, according to Consumer Reports surveys. However, some people don’t tip at all — or only tip for top notch service.

Who gets tipped the most? Housekeepers were tipped most often and received the biggest tip with the median amount being $50. Those who work in other service professions generally received a median tip (or gift) of $20 and garbage collectors seemed to be left off the tipping list the most.

Still confused about who and what to tip? (Also, when is it preferable to give a gift rather than just cash?) We gathered tipping and gift information from Real Simple and etiquette expert Emily Post to guide you this holiday season.

Who should be on your tip (or gift) list

From your personal trainer to the pet groomer, here’s a list of the providers who you may want to thank this holiday season:

Home and repair

Doorman: Doormen typically receive a tip of $20 to $100. For more than one doorman, you can give $15 or more per doorman.

Elevator operator/building staff: Building staff members or elevator operators may receive a tip of up to $50 or a gift of similar value.

Handyman/repair: For those who repair your home, a monetary thank you tip of up to $40 or gift of the same value is appropriate.

Housekeeper/cleaner: An appropriate tip for a housekeeper or cleaner is up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a gift.

Landscaper/lawn service: Your lawn service providers may be tipped up to the same amount for one service visit or $20 to $50 for sporadic use. A gift is acceptable too.

Live-in help (cook, butler, nanny): If you have live-in help a tip of up to one month’s pay plus a gift is customary.

Mechanic: If you receive regular auto service offer a tip of $20.

Newspaper delivery service: Your newspaper deliverer can be tipped between $10 to $30; or given a small gift.

Package deliverer: FedEx allows for nominal gifts valued at up to $75, which includes vendor logo shirts and small food baskets and UPS has no specific policy.

Parking garage attendant: Tip garage or parking attendants between $10 to $30; or a give a small gift.

Pool cleaner: Your pool cleaner or team can be tipped up to the same amount for one visit or offered a gift.

Postal worker/mail carrier: Mail carriers can receive a gift (non-cash) valuing around $20 or less.

Trash/recycle worker: You can offer private trash or recycle workers cash or a gift of up to $30 each. If your trash collection is a public service, check with your municipality.

Superintendent: Depending upon your service and responsiveness, a tip or gift of $20 to $100 is customary.

Hair and beauty

Barber/hairstylist/manicurist: For your barber, hairstylist or manicurist, a tip or gift of up to the cost of one visit is appropriate.

Beauty salon staff: If you are tipping the entire staff, a tip that is up to the cost of one salon visit is a nice gesture (that could be divided among the staff). Or offer small gifts or cards for each person who provides you with a service at the salon.

Pet care

Dog walker: Recognize your dog walker with cash or a gift of up one week’s pay.

Pet groomer: A gift or cash equal to up to one visit is a nice way to recognize the same person who grooms your pet throughout the year.

Child care

Babysitter: Thank your sitter with a gift or cash of up to one or two nights of sitting, along with maybe a small gift from your child (or children).

Day care staff: Thank everyone at your child’s day care center with a gift or tip of up to $70 per staff member who works with your child (or children). A nice added touch is a personal, handmade gift from your child (or children).

Nanny/au pair: Tip your nanny or au pair with up to one or two weeks pay, plus a personal gift from your child (or children).

Tutor/teacher: Provide a gift of up to $25 to your child’s teacher or tutor.

Wellness and lifestyle

Home health employees: Home health employees can be recognized with a thoughtful gift from you (check gift and tipping policy with the provider).

Massage therapist: Give a gift or tip equal to what you would pay for one session.

Nursing home employees: Select a gift that can be shared among staff (check gift and tipping policy with the provider).

Personal caregiver: Offer cash or a gift valued at up to one week’s (or one month’s) salary.

Personal trainer: Give your personal trainer a tip or gift equal to what you would pay for one session.

Private nurse: A thoughtful gift is a special way to recognize your personal nurse.

How to tip if you are not sure what to give

If you are on the fence about whether you want to tip or not, consider the quality and frequency of the service you receive, number of years you’ve received the service and your relationship with the provider, according to the Emily Post Institute.

For example, if you only get your hair cut twice a year, your tip is going to be much lower than if you hit the salon every month. Also, keep in mind that tipping averages are higher in bigger cities and tipping and gift giving policies vary so when in doubt, inquire with the provider.

Anyone who you shouldn’t tip but could offer a gift? Physicians, psychologists, lawyers and financial advisors might love a small gift but don’t hand over cash, according to MarketWatch. Other providers who shouldn’t be tipped (but could receive a gift) during the holidays include teachers, the take out staff from your favorite restaurant, the hotel concierge, the dry cleaner, grocery store baggers and cashiers and the sales person at the store where you frequently shop. When it comes to gift giving, some ideas include gift baskets, baked goods, donations to the person’s favorite charity, candles or wine.

Finally, if you are on a tight budget this year, but don’t want to look like a Scrooge, you can still show your appreciation with a handwritten note. Even a few kinds words — or a handmade gift — can express your gratitude.

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