Skillful Socializing

Budget + The Relationship Determine Holiday Tipping

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Etiquette | 3 comments

Budget + The Relationship Determine Holiday Tipping

 “Doorman—-a genius who can open the door of your car with one hand, help you in with the other, and still have one left for the tip.” 

—-Dorothy Kilgallen  (American journalist and game show panelist)

Figuring out holiday tips can be tricky. From the dog walker to the nanny, the manicurist to the in-home nurse, there can be a number of people to consider tipping during the holiday season. With common sense as a guide, consider your budget and  relationship with service provider. Following are general guidelines:

  • For those who work with you daily like nannies, au pairs, cooks or butlers —- a week of pay, plus a personal gift from the children for nannies and au pairs.
  • House cleaners, hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists, dog walkers, personal trainers and assistants, and very regular babysitters fall into a subset of the personal service category —- up to the equivalent of one visit.
  • Doormen can make your life much easier. Based on  the level of service and location (bigger cities = bigger tips) —- $20-$100.
  • Gardener and pool cleaner —- the equivalent of one visit or a $10-$20 tip per helper.
  • Teachers, tutors, instructors and coaches —- a gift card or gift.
  • Garbage/recycling collectors and newspaper carriers —- a smaller tip (e.g., $10-$20 per person) for each person.
  • Mail and package carriers and nursing care facility and in-home providers —- a small gift or gift basket that can be shared is appreciated. The U.S. Postal Service and as well as some other providers do not allow cash or gift card tips.

Consider the length and level of service. For example, if you are a flower-show level gardener who works closely with your gardening team, you tip much more generously.

Cash Is King

When Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s character burst out “Show me the money!” in Jerry Maguire (1996), he was speaking for most people. Thoughtful gifts are great, but cash is king. Most of us have no idea how others manage their money. Many use tips to pay for holiday gifts, bills or rent. When cash is not appropriate, consider a credit-card gift card or store gift card.

You might be surprised to find how much people tip. Regardless of others’ tipping patterns, it’s a personal choice based on common sense, budget, relationship and length of service.

“Number one, cash is king… number two, communicate… number three, buy or bury the competition.”
Jack Welch  (former chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric)


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. David Goldstein

    Doormen are geniuses – the good ones sign for your packages, keep the building safe and know about everything from what restaurants to try or how to remove the virus on your computer. They are there when you need them and invisible when you don’t and in my case, I appreciate their positive and optimistic outlook so much that I take the long walk around the building just to great them at the front door.

    A good friend used to always say: “when in doubt – TIP.” This post is a great reminder not to forget all the service people who make your life better.

    • HollysGirlfriend

      I absolutely agree–doormen are the best kind of gatekeepers you treat as trusted advisors. I like your friend’s quote. If you’ve ever worked in a service job, you don’t miss the tip jar or a holiday tipping opportunity. Thank you! Loving!

  2. Julie Overton

    What helpful information! I am going to print it out. It is spot on, and so timely.Thanks, HG!

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