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How Much to Tip Housekeepers, Repairmen, More Around the Holidays

5 min read
How Much to Tip Housekeepers, Repairmen, More Around the Holidays
  • The holidays are often a time to tip workers you regularly interact with.
  • Americans plan to tip more generously this holiday season than last, a recent Bankrate survey found.
  • Here’s what etiquette experts suggest you tip workers like doormen, gardeners, nannies, and babysitters.

For many Americans, the holidays are often a time to think about giving back to all the service workers who’ve routinely helped you throughout the year — with a hefty tip.

Maybe it’s the babysitter who takes care of your kids on a busy night, or the building superintendent who lets you into your apartment when you forget your keys.

“Our purpose behind this is to show gratitude towards that individual for the service and the work that they provided for us throughout the year,” said Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and founder of The Swann School of Protocol. “That gratitude can show up in a number of ways based upon the budget of the giver.”

Though Americans are feeling “tipping fatigue,” many actually plan to tip these key service workers just as generously, if not more, this holiday season. Around 15% of US adults plan to increase the amount they’ll tip this holiday season, according toa survey of about 2,400 people conducted by YouGov PLC on behalf of Bankrate. Roughly 44% of respondents said they’d tip the same amount, while 13% said they’d tip less, per Bankrate’s survey.

Still, Americans are unsure exactly how much to tip around the holidays, with 19% of people in Bankrate’s survey saying they plan to ask family, friends, or neighbors for guidance.

If you’re in doubt, checking in with others in your community is a good rule of thumb to gauge how much you should leave for a holiday tip, according to Nick Leighton, etiquette expert and co-host of advice podcast “Were You Raised By Wolves?”

“Who to tip and how much to tip are made up of a constellation of factors, including the nature and length of the relationship with a person and what’s considered ‘typical’ in your area,” Leighton wrote to Business Insider by email.

For those who might need a little more help figuring out what makes for an appropriate tip, BI chatted with etiquette experts to put together a helpful holiday tip guide. The following are suggested guidelines, but if your finances are tight, there is flexibility to “work with what you can in your own budget,” says Swann.

For your babysitter, housekeeper, or nanny

A babysitter plays with a child at the "Noemi Rigolo comme la vie" nursery in Roubaix, northern France

The recommended tip for a babysitter is a single visit’s pay.

Sameer Al-Doumy/ AFP via Getty Images

One visit’s pay for your babysitter or housekeeper would be a good holiday tip, according to etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley, or “Mister Manners.” For a live-in nanny, the bar is a little higher so a good tip might be closer to one week’s pay or even up to one month’s pay, he said.

If you have a dog walker or groomer, or someone who cleans your pool or maintains your lawn, aim for the cash equivalent of one service, says Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.

For your doormen or superintendent

Doorman Aneudy Santana works at his building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan

Tips for doormen can vary depending on the circumstances.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tips for doormen vary based on where you live and how often you interact with them.

In a building with multiple doormen, you’re probably going to want to tip $20 to $100 per doorman, says Gottsman, though you can go up to “hundreds of dollars sometimes per doorman” in a luxury building in a big city, says Farley, noting that tips here still vary from context to context.

For those who live in a smaller building without a doorman, but have a building superintendent who performs small services from time to time, be as generous as your budget allows, Farley said. “If your budget is tight, and perhaps this is not a high-service building, perhaps the tip for the super is $50 or $100,” Farley said.

On the other hand, if you’re in a luxury building where your super is doing much more work for you, and you’re not tipping on each occasion, then it’s worth being “especially generous,” he said.

Consider aiming for $20 to $100 for a maintenance worker in your building, and $10 to $50 for a garage attendant if you have one, says Gottsman.

For your hairdresser, colorist, manicurist, or personal services provider

A manicurist files a customer's nails.

Holiday tips for workers like manicurists can be equal to the cost of one visit.

Jim Young/Reuters

Even if you’re giving out a tip to your hairdresser or manicurist every time you visit the salon, Farley still suggests giving them a holiday tip. “In this category, the personal services category, your gratuity should be the cost of one visit,” Farley said.

This rule of thumb also extends to workers like massage therapists or personal trainers, says Gottsman.

There are some workers you shouldn’t (or legally can’t) tip

Mail carrier Tiffany Sufficool delivers the mail during subzero temperatures carried by the polar votex in Fargo, North Dakota

Non-cash gifts may be the best choice for workers like mail carriers.

Dan Koeck/Reuters

These include your doctor, lawyer, accountant, child’s teacher, and mail carrier. If you want to express your gratitude to these workers, a non-cash gift would be more appropriate.

Trash collectors may be prohibited from accepting tips in certain municipalities, so check your local regulations, but otherwise, $10 to $25 per person is good, according to Gottsman.

At the end of the day, your tipping amount really boils down to a few key factors, for all of the workers you regularly interact with throughout the year.

“It’s a sliding scale depending on the relationship you have, your budget, and what they’ve done for you,” says Gottsman.

If you’re in extenuating financial circumstances, do your best.

“You give them what you can,” says Swann. “It might be half of that. It might be a third of that. But you do what you can.”

In the end, it’s really the thought that counts. The holidays are a time to “recognize not just our loved ones, but also the people who provide services in our lives who make our years that much more pleasant, make our years more possible, and comfortable in every respect,” Farley said.

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