How and Whom to Tip During the Holidays

Tipping is an important way to show your appreciation, and it’s especially key to say thanks around the holidays. But what’s the etiquette?

Tipping is an important way to show your appreciation, and it’s especially key to say thanks around the holidays. But what’s the etiquette? How to avoid breaking the bank? Check out these holiday tipping Do’s and Don'ts.

Prioritize Year-Round Helpers

First things first, do make a list. Even though it’s December, don’t forget all those who made your life better and easier the other 11 months of the year, from housekeepers to teachers to trash collectors.

“You don't want to forget those people who have helped your life, like the car mechanic who saved your vacation in July,” adds Stephanie Sisco, associate editor at Real Simple magazine.

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Get Creative

Once you’ve developed your official list, do assign the appropriate tips but don’t assume you need to give everyone cash. “If you can’t afford that extra tip…it really is appreciated when you give something homemade and heartfelt,” says Sisco. For example: a drawing from your child for his teacher or a batch of cookies for your gardener.

Also see: When You Don’t Need to Tip

When Cash Is King

Of course for others, cash is king. For babysitters offer a day’s pay, and for nannies and housekeepers Real Simple recommends an extra week’s pay. The cost of one service is appropriate for dog walkers, hairdressers, manicurists and newspaper carriers. Offer $15 to $20 to each trash collector. For those who live in a staffed apartment, depending on how expensive of a city you live in and the amount of service you’ve required throughout the year, make sure to tip your superintendent and doormen in cash between $25 to $100 each. 

Here are some other tipping guidelines courtesy of the Emily Post Institute:

  • Personal trainer: cash up to the cost of one session or gift
  • Massage therapist: cash up to the cost of one session or gift
  • Garage Attendants: $10 to $30 or gift
  • Handyman: $15 to $40 or gift
  • Yard/garden worker: $20 to $50 each or gift


Mind Tipping Rules

Do know tipping laws. For example, U.S. Postal workers are prohibited from accepting cash or cash equivalents like checks and gift cards, and they cannot accept gifts worth more than $20. Some acceptable gifts include baked goods, snacks, beverages, hand warmers and travel mugs.

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Be Extra Generous in Some Cases

If your family celebrates the holidays by having dinner at a restaurant on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or if you need to call a handyman during the holidays, consider tipping more generously — about 5% to 10% extra — for their special commitment to helping you during this time of year.

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