The holidays can be a stressful time, and it can be even more stressful trying to figure out how much to tip everyone from the mail carrier to the dog walker—especially during a global pandemic. Below is a quick guide that can serve as a baseline for what to tip the important people in your life, but keep in mind that this year, experts suggest tipping more if you’re able to: As Jodi RR Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting told HuffPost, “Overtipping is the standard until we are back to business as usual.” That goes for those in the service industry you might not have seen as much, or at all, this year, like your hair stylist or your cleaning person.
If you're not able to tip as much as you have in the past, Lizzie Post, co-president of The Emily Post Institute, recommends writing a note: "You want to reassure them that it is not a reflection of the service but it is that your circumstances changed to a degree this year that made it difficult to do the same amount," she told CNBC. If you're not able to tip at all, a note is also appropriate.
1. Regular Barista
If your favorite barista knows your daily order before you even make it to the counter, you might want to give an extra holiday tip to this friendly face (who likely makes minimum wage). Rather than leave money in a communal tip jar, directly hand your barista between $10 and $20. If you don’t want to give cash, consider giving a gift card in an equal amount.
2. Apartment Building Staff
If you live in an apartment or condo, tip the building superintendent, doormen, and handymen. Holiday tip amounts may vary depending on the city in which you live and the amount of personalized attention you’ve received from your building’s staff. Most experts suggest that you give your super anywhere from $75 to $175, handymen $20 to $50, and doormen $25 to as high as $150. If your doorman has been accepting or carrying more packages for you during the pandemic, consider giving at the higher end of the range—or more, if you’re able to.
Depending on your company’s policies, give your assistant a holiday cash bonus as well as a gift. Try to tailor your gift to what you know your assistant (or intern) likes. A gift card for $50 to their favorite coffee shop or local bookstore makes for a thoughtful present.
If you own a home and pay a gardener to regularly maintain your lawn, give a cash tip between $20 and $50. To make it easier on yourself, you can simply give your gardener the amount you pay for their regular weekly or biweekly service.
5. Mail Carrier
The United States Postal Service has strict rules for the types of holiday tips and gifts that mail carriers can accept, regardless of how many excess packages he or she has been delivering to your door. Rather than give cash, a check, or a gift card—all of which your mail carrier can’t accept—give a small gift worth around $20. Sweet treats, baked goods, or a simple pair of gloves make a nice gesture.
6. Hair Stylist
During your regular appointment in December or January, tip your hair stylist or barber up to the amount that one hair cut usually costs you. If you've been seeing the same hair stylist for years, give him or her a gift card to their favorite restaurant, clothing store, or spa. The more personal the gift, the better.
The teachers, tutors, and coaches who educate your kids appreciate a holiday gesture. Some schools prohibit teachers from accepting money from parents, so play it safe by giving a thoughtful thank you card along with a small gift, such as a book, picture frame, or plant.
8. Cleaning Person
9. Personal Trainer
Whether you regularly work out with a personal trainer, yoga teacher, or Pilates instructor, consider tipping the cost of one session with them. You can also give them a gift card to a local spa or department store. Just keep in mind that your personal trainer probably won't appreciate getting cookies, candy canes, or other holiday treats loaded with sugar (and you might not want to admit that you've been snacking on them either!).
10. Dog Walker
We entrust pet groomers, dog walkers, and pet sitters with our beloved furry friends, so definitely remember to tip them at least the cost of one normal service. For example, if you typically pay your pet groomer $30 per session, pay him an extra $30 during the holidays. For dog walkers, tip up one week’s pay. If you have a particularly close relationship with your dog walker or pet sitter, give more money.
Whether you occasionally pay a neighborhood teenager to babysit your kids or you have a live-in nanny, the people who care for your children will probably expect a holiday tip. Have your children write a thank you note to their babysitter or nanny, and include cash or a check for an amount equal to one day’s pay (for an occasional babysitter) to one week’s pay (for a full-time nanny).