Rules of Holiday Tipping
Secure your spot on the nice list and give generously this season.
There's a lot to think about when December rolls around: Am I too late on sending out holiday cards? What am I supposed to feed 23 relatives on Christmas morning? And how many lights do I actually need to decorate my 9-foot tree? But in the hustle and bustle of the season, don't forget the people who make your life easier all year long. Here's our guide to holiday tipping, from your handyman to your hairstylist.
First, take your budget into account and be realistic. It's not always financially feasible to show your thanks as extravagantly as you'd like, so in those cases, it's perfectly acceptable to offer a small gift with a note outlining your appreciation. If your holiday tipping budget is limited, consider starting with the people you see most frequently, whether it's the landscaper or your manicurist; then, acknowledge others that you don't see as frequently, like an occasional pet sitter, with a thoughtful homemade gift, like a batch of cookies or jar of preserves.
Here is our general outline for how much to tip or gift this holiday season. Keep in mind, though, that the below recommendations are just that—recommendations. You should never give more than you are able to give, and a few kind words of gratitude will always go a long way.
For the People Who Help with Your Littles
If there's anyone in your life who's earned a generous holiday tip, it's the saint who takes care of your children. Regular babysitters should be given up to a night's pay, while full-time nannies should receive from one week to one month's pay. Be sure to include your children in the gift-giving action, too, and ask them to make cards or gifts for their caregivers. While it's appropriate to tip day care providers and school bus drivers, you should skip the tip and give teachers and other school employees (like the nurse) a small gift or gift card.
For the Folks Who Take Care of Your Pets
Our furry, four-legged friends are part of the family, so it's important to recognize groomers and regular dog sitters or dog walkers with a tip up to the cost of one service.
For the Miracle Workers Who Keep Your Beauty Routine In Full Swing
"I don't trust anybody that does their own hair. I don't think it's normal," says Dolly in Steel Magnolias. And we agree. So to the men and women who keep us normal (whateverthat means), it's nice to tip up to the cost of one salon visit. And don't just tip your main stylist; if there's another employee who washes your hair, be sure to slip them a little something, or a small gift, too. The same guidelines also apply to nail technicians and masseuses.
For the Crew Who Makes Your House Feel Like Home
With all that company coming into town, the holidays will make you feel especially grateful for the people who keep your floors mopped, grass cut, and plumbing in check. It's appropriate to give handymen and yard maintenance crews $15-50 each. Housekeepers should receive tips equivalent to one cleaning; if you use a housekeeping service with multiple team members, be sure to acknowledge each of them individually with a small gift or tip. Don't forget your trash and recycling collectors, either; as long as it's in line with city regulations, it's appropriate to tip each of them between $10-$30.
For the Ones Who Deliver the News, the Mail, and Your (Approximately One Billion) Amazon Packages
Would it even feel like Christmas without holiday cards in the mailbox or a stack of Amazon boxes on the porch? While we'll encourage you to give your newspaper delivery person a cash tip between $10-$30, the rules are different for mail and package carriers. USPS mail carriers may accept snacks and beverages (no meals) and small gifts worth less than $20; larger items worth more than $20, like a tin of cookies, must be shared with the larger branch, rather than the individual. UPS drivers may accept a small gift or nominal tip, while FedEx employees may only accept small gifts.
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