Holiday Tipping: Everything You Need to Know

  • To Tip or Not to Tip?

    As the holidays approach, Americans must face the annual question of whether to give a little extra something to the service providers who help us all year long. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, more than half (54%) of Americans said they didn't tip at least one person whose services they used last year, and 38% didn't tip any of the providers Consumer Reports asked about. Of the people who did not give tips, 48% said it was because their budgets were too tight. If you do have the means to tip, though, you always should, says Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and director of The Etiquette School of New York in Manhattan. "It’s a great way to show our gratitude for all the hard work service providers have done in making our lives nicer,” she says. But tipping isn’t purely altruistic – it can also butter up service providers so they’ll continue to give us the same quality of help next year, she adds. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    So How Much Is Enough?
  • So How Much Is Enough?

    Napier-Fitzpatrick has provided some suggested amounts for everyone from your doorman to your child’s babysitter. Of course, these amounts can be adjusted according to your income level. And if you’re really cash-strapped this holiday season, there are other ways to show your gratitude without spending an arm and a leg. “If you can’t give money, you can make baked goods like brownies or cupcakes, for instance,” she says. No matter what type of gift you decide to give, be sure to include a handwritten card or note. “Just write something short and simple, such as ‘thank you for your help this year,’ or ‘thank you for always being so warm and kind,’” Napier-Fitzpatrick says. “Saying thanks shows that you’re a gracious, thoughtful person.” Napier-Fitzpatrick also suggests giving the same amount or more as last year, and says a check is just as acceptable as cash. If you do decide to use cash, “make sure that you give crisp bills because it looks nicer,” she adds. Here are the suggested amounts…. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Tips for Kid Services
  • Tips for Kid Services

    Babysitter: One week’s pay for a steady babysitter, or one evening’s pay for a babysitter you use occasionally, plus a small gift from you child. Teacher/day care provider: A small, non-monetary gift up to $50 in value. “Gift certificates are a great idea,” says Napier-Fitzpatrick. “It’s also OK for parents in the class to pool money together and buy one gift.” And don’t think that spending more than $50 will give your child special treatment. “It’s really just as tasteless to give too much as too little,” our expert says. Coach, tutor, music teacher: A small gift from your child. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Tips for Personal Services
  • Tips for Personal Services

    Barber or hair stylist: The cost of one visit. Manicurist/pedicurist: Cost of one session (or $10 to $50), plus a small gift. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Tips for Home Services
  • Tips for Home Services

    Doorman: $40 to $100. If you have multiple doormen who help you, be sure to give a tip to each. Parking garage attendants: $10 to $30 each. Housekeeper: Try to aim for one to two weeks’ pay, depending on how long the housekeeper has been with you. If the housekeeper only comes once a week or once every other week, then just the cost of one visit is appropriate, says Napier-Fitzpatrick. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Tips for Government Services
  • Tips for Government Services

    Mail carrier: A small gift worth $20. (By law, mail carriers are not allowed to receive cash, and gifts they receive may not exceed $20 in value.) Garbage collector: $10 to $30 each. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Tips for Pet Services
  • Tips for Pet Services

    Pet groomer: The cost of one visit. Daily dog walker: The cost of one session to up to one week’s pay. Did we miss someone who you think should get a holiday tip? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll get an answer for you!   Kristin Colella is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach her by email at, or follow her on Twitter @KrisColella. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    The Best Secret Santa Gifts
  • The Best Secret Santa Gifts

    Now that we’ve got gifts for service providers down, it’s time to decide what to buy for that Secret Santa exchange. You’ll find some great suggestions for gifts $15 and less in this MainStreet roundup! Photo Credit: Getty Images
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