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Feb 12, 2005
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Holiday Tipping Tip Sheet

Find out exactly how much you should tip your letter carrier, babysitter, hairstylist and other service providers at the end of the year.

By Sean O'Neill

November 2007

Of all the holiday traditions, none is as confusing as tipping. Who gets a tip? How much?

Answers vary. If you filled a room with etiquette experts, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion about holiday tipping.

Undaunted, has drawn up a list of end-of-year tipping amounts for a variety of professions using the most compelling arguments we've heard from a handful of etiquette experts. You don't need to tip all of the professions we name. Consider only handing out end-of-the year tips for one to three people who have given you exemplary service during the year. For details, see What You Need to Know About Holiday Tipping.

Please note that we didn't have space for a comprehensive list of all the valuable professions in the world. We only listed the ones we guessed would generate the most reader inquiries.

The amounts we suggest are for you to use as a benchmark for making your own decision, adjusting the amount for the unique circumstances of your professional relationships. Most important, though, is to stay within your budget and give only what you can afford. And if you're not pleased with the service you've received, do not feel compelled to give a holiday tip, says Peter Post, co-author of The Etiquette Advantage in Business.

Note: It's a nice touch to place your cash, check or gift card in an envelopes or greeting card before you hand it to your recipient.

CLEANING PERSONHow much to tip: The cost of one visit if he or she visits weekly or bi-weekly, says protocol adviser Rosanne Thomas. Up the tip amount for a cleaning person who works more often.

Exceptions: If you use a cleaning service that works in a team, a box of chocolates for the team is customary.


How much to tip: The normal cost of a visit for a stylist you've used all year.

Exceptions: If your stylist doubles as a confidante, include a small personal gift that speaks to his or her interests as well as a monetary gift. If you don't require as much attention from your stylist or barber, you may prefer to give only about $20 as a tip during your December visit.


How much to tip: $10 to $20.

Exceptions: If you tip your deliverer generously throughout the year, a smaller gift of a few dollars is customary.


How much to tip: The U.S. Postal service says gifts must be under $20 in value. A gift card at Dunkin' Donuts or a similar store that could serve as an off-duty for the carrier's route is acceptable.

Exception: If there is a particular example of a postal worker having gone undeterred by snow, rain, heat or gloom of night, a glowing letter or email to a supervisor may mean more than a gift, says Peggy Post, author of Excuse Me, But I Was Next.


How much to tip: "A personal gift may be in order for someone who has been extraordinarily kind," says Thomas. Think gift baskets or homemade cookies.

Exceptions: Check with the policy at the facility. Workers often are tipped through a fund that is run by a central administrator. Some facilities ban tips and gifts on grounds of fairness.


How much to tip: $50.

Exceptions: The key question to ask yourself is whether you have an ongoing, above-average relationship with the professional, says etiquette expert Charlotte Ford. Tip at year end if you feel you've gotten above-average service year-round.


How much to tip: Nanny or au pair -- one week's pay and a small gift from the child; regular sitter -- one to two nights' pay; day-care provider -- $25 to $70.

Exceptions: Only give a holiday tip if you've frequently used the sitter during the year or you had to call on them in an 11th hour emergency, advises Thomas Blaikie, etiquette expert and author of "To the Manner Born."

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it originally was published in November 2006.

How much would you tip your nail tech for the holidays? I've been going to her for the past 6 months and she does an awesome job. I typically tip her $5 every time I go.


I tipped our dog groomer $20 for Christmas...

I don't really get my hair or nails done, except for around Christmas.

It's so hard to remember everyone when you have sooo many people to buy for. I'm constantly addng people to my buy for list.


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