Holiday Tipping Guide: Your Cheat Sheet for the Giving Season

holiday tipping

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 give to whom. Follow these guidelines for appropriate holiday tipping.

Cash or gifts?

The experts at Emily Post recommend giving cash tips to service providers—like babysitters, doormen and dog groomers—and small, thoughtful gifts to professionals, like teachers and postal workers.

Make your list; check it twice.

Consider the following people when preparing your holiday tips:

  • Babysitters, nannies, daycare providers, teachers
  • Private nurses, home health employees
  • Housekeepers, landscapers, yard workers
  • Hairdressers, barbers
  • Personal trainers, massage therapists
  • Dog walkers, pet groomers
  • Garage attendants, elevator operators, doormen
  • Mail carriers, newspaper carriers, trash or recycling collectors

Emily Post’s tipping guidelines 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.

It’s important to remember that many employees are not allowed to accept certain gifts. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, 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.

So make your list and check it twice, and 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.