Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Many people in the service industry count on holiday tips. Below is a guideline on who to tip and how much and what you should give them. If you’re deciding between money and a present, it might help to know most people prefer the cash. I will say, what really matters is that you show and tell others how much you appreciate them especially during this holiday season.

If you want to give but are too strapped to afford it

If you cannot afford to give each person money, you can give someone a card and tell them why and what you appreciate about them. It’s also nice to give a handmade gift or treat.  A plate of holiday cookies is a low-cost way to express your appreciation.

Holiday Tipping Etiquette of Giving Cash or Gift Cards

1. Prioritize your most important service providers.

If someone’s work makes your life dramatically better, that person should be at the top of your holiday tipping list. The trusted house cleaner, the hairdresser who fits you in at the last minute and the baby sitter who always does a great job tending your kids should get more of your holiday tipping resources than service providers you use infrequently.

2. Don’t skimp on your employees.

If you have household workers, such as a nanny, a housekeeper or a caretaker for an elderly relative, Post cautions against forgoing holiday bonuses if at all possible. The holiday bonus is often considered part of the employee’s compensation, Post notes. It all depends on your past practices, what’s customary in your area and what you promised when you hired the person, of course, but withholding or shortchanging the bonus could be considered a cut in pay and you could wind up losing a valued worker because of it.

3. Tip strategically.

If you live in a building with a doorman, superintendent or both, failing to tip can lead — unfortunately — to bad service. The higher the customary tip, the less likely a plate of cookies will cut it. Talk to your neighbors to see what the going rate is and try to come close to that figure to make sure your packages still get delivered and your friends can get into the building.

4. It’s OK to consider need.

The lower-paid the worker, the more holiday tips are likely to be appreciated — and the bigger impact your gift can have. Your tip to a manicurist or gardener may be a bigger deal than the same-sized token to a package-delivery person.

5. If you tip generously all year, you can skimp a bit.

A smaller tip or a modest gift at the holidays is fine.

6. A note should accompany any tip.

Your message doesn’t have to be elaborate, but should include a couple of sentences thanking the person for his or her good work and wishing a happy holiday.

Handy Holiday Tipping Etiquette Chart

Below are rough guidelines you can adapt to your budget and local custom:




One evening’s pay, plus a gift from your child


Cost of one haircut

Beauty salon staff

Half the cost of one haircut

Bus Driver

$10 individual or more for collective gift from group

Day care provider

A gift from you, or $25 to $70, plus a gift from your child

Dog walker

Up to one week’s pay or a gift


$15 to $80 or a gift ($15 each for multiple doormen)

Garage attendants

$10 to $30 or a small gift


$20 to $50 each


$15 to $40


Up to one week’s pay and/or a small gift

Live-in help

One week to one month’s pay, plus a gift from you

Mail carrier

Gift worth less than $20; no cash, check or gift cards

Massage therapist

Up to the cost of one session or a gift

Nanny or au pair

One week’s pay, plus a gift from your child

Newspaper deliverer

$10 to $30 or a small gift


If you’d like to see WCNC Evening News with Aimee Symington on Holiday Tipping Etiquette – Click HERE

If you are looking for a modern cotillion class for your 5th, 6th or 7th graders this winter please click HERE or contact Aimee at [email protected] or go to