Holiday Tipping Guide: How Much to Give and to Whom

November 20, 2019
Woman standing next to coffee machines in a coffee shop

Barbers and nannies and mail carriers, oh my! Many of us like to tip a little extra during the holiday season. But it can be confusing to decide how much to tip and to whom. Follow these guidelines for appropriate holiday tipping.

Should holiday tips be cash or gifts?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to give cash tips to service providers—like babysitters, doormen and dog groomers—and small, thoughtful gifts to professionals, like teachers and postal workers.

How much to tip and to whom

It can be hard to remember everyone you need to thank over the holidays. Use the holiday tipping checklist below for a general list of people to consider, and a suggested amount to help you plan the perfect holiday tipping amount.

Person to tip

Suggested amount to tip

Babysitters and nannies The average pay for one day or evening, and a small gift made by your children.
Daycare providers An amount up to $50 per person, and a small gift made by your children.
Teachers A small gift from your children.
Private nurses and home health employees A nice gift from you, and possibly a cash tip depending on their involvement.
Housekeepers, landscapers and yard workers The cost of one session.
Hairdressers and barbers The cost of one session or haircut.
Personal trainers and massage therapists The cost of one session.
Dog walkers and pet groomers The average pay of one week of dog walking, or a session’s pay for a groomer.
Building employees (garage attendants, elevator operators and doormen) Up to $100, depending on employee involvement.
Mail carriers A small personal gift, as post office employees are only allowed to accept a gift worth $20 or less.


Many of the tipping guidelines above are primarily based on unit of pay. For example, if you pay your babysitter $50 an evening, you might give him or her $50 around the holidays (and perhaps a homemade gift from your child). Service people with whom you have occasional contact, like trash collectors and newspaper delivery people, would receive smaller tips ranging from $10 to $50.

Check policies before tipping

It’s important to remember that some employees are not allowed to accept certain gifts. As you can see above, the U.S. Postal Service prohibits mail carriers from accepting gifts of more than $20 in value. Check with your school district, daycare facility and home health agency to find out if they have similar restrictions before giving a holiday tip.

Remember that it’s up to you to give what feels right and what you can afford. Whether you give crisp bills or a beautifully wrapped package, don’t forget to include a handwritten note.

Wondering when to start shopping to get the best deals? Find out if Black Friday or Cyber Monday have better deals. For more gift giving tips, check out these holiday shopping tips to help you plan your budget for the holidays.

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