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Who to Tip on the Holidays: A Quick Guide on Who and How Much Gratuity to Give for Christmas

Holiday tipping can be confusing, sometimes it’s quite obvious that you should give someone a tip and then other times it’s a little confusing and you’re just not sure what the proper etiquette is in that situation.

Who to Tip

The general rule of thumb is that you should give a holiday tip to anyone who makes a regular appearance to your home. This means babysitters, newspaper carriers, housecleaners and anyone else who’s regular visits you depend upon. If you live in an apartment building you may have doormen and superintendents who are also deserving of a holiday tip. In addition to people who visit you regularly you should consider people you visit or depend on on a regular basis, such as Sunday school teachers, bus drivers, hair dressers, manicurists or dry cleaners.

Who not to Tip

Mailmen and teachers are a questionable area, the United States Post Office doesn’t allow their carriers to accept cash and they can only accept gifts worth $20 or less. Teachers typically also have a school policy against accepting gratuity, but again a small token or a gift to the classroom would be appropriate.

Professionals who you pay regularly for a service do not require tipping, such as doctors, lawyers, gym staff et cetera.

And if you only see someone once or twice a year then you don’t need to add them to your tipping list.

How Much to Tip

This varies and is not nearly as clear cut as the standard 15-20% for waiters and waitresses. It not only varies by whom you’re tipping, but by region and city as well. So use the following information as a guideline, and then weigh that against your best judgment to come up with an adequate amount.

Child Care – Nannies typically get one week’s pay as a bonus while babysitters get one evening’s pay extra. For coaches, teachers, and extracurricular instructors as well as nannies and babysitters, give them a small gift from the child as a token of appreciation.

Home Staff – Housekeepers and pet care people are typically given an additional week’s pay. If you have a gardener or landscaper the standard Christmas tip is generally between $20 and $50, remember to include assistants if there is more than one person who works on your place.

Delivery People – As mentioned above, a small gift to your postal carrier is nice if you’re in an area where this is expected, many areas shy away from giving holiday tips to postal carriers. Newspaper carriers should be tipped no matter where you live and the standard is typically one month’s subscription cost.

Personal Care – No matter whether it’s a haircut or a massage, if this is party of your regular routine you’re expected to tip the cost of one average visit.

Building Service – If you live in a building with a doorman and superintendent the amount of a Christmas tip can vary widely, current standards are in the $20 to 200 range.

To make your holiday gratuity more meaningful, give them in person whenever possible, include a nice thank you note or a card, and try to give crisp and clean bills.