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A Tip on Tipping

Nancy Patterson December 21, 2011 Easy Street 1 Comment on A Tip on Tipping

It’ stressful trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas shopping list. What to get Aunt Millie who you only see once a year? What kind of things are teenagers hoping for now-a-days?

As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the end of the year also brings on the added stress of figuring out who and how much to tip everyone at the end of the year. It’s enough to make you want to dip into the egg nog an extra time or two.


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The list of people to tip at the end of each year is probably longer than your Christmas shopping list this year. And unless you are part of the one percent you can’t afford to indiscriminately tip all the service people in your life.

First off know that you don’t have to tip everybody. It’s just not plausible for most people’s budget. What you should do is prioritize your tipping list. Put people at the top that provided you with exceptional service this past year, like your doorman who also helps you bring up your groceries now and then.

At the same time remember you are setting a precedent for tipping amounts for years to come. Make sure that you can afford to tip the same amount to this same person next year. Tipping less than you tipped last year is bad form unless your situation has changed drastically.

Make sure to take into account those people who you tip throughout the year. If you tip your hairdresser 15-20 percent every time you see her then there is no need to provide an additional tip at the end of the year.

Before you start writing checks and stuffing envelopes full of cash take a look at the 2011 guidelines below of people to tip and how much.

Postal workers. Your mail carrier is a federal employee and is therefore subject to a code of conduct that prevents certain types of gifts. You can’t give him/her a tip of more than $20, cash or gift card. That always feels a little bah-humbug to me though so to get around that provision I usually give my postman a small gift (like a Christmas ornament) worth less than $20 or a plate of holiday cookies.

Newspaper delivery person. A tip somewhere between $10-20 is appropriate. Tip on the higher end if your paper is always placed just a few steps outside your door.  By the same token if you’re always fishing your paper out of the bushes tip on the lower end of the scale.

Gardener/Lawn Maintenance Service. It’s customary to give a $25-50 tip each year. If they do extra work like tree trimming and planting flowers add an additional $5-10 per person.

Doormen for apartment or condo buildings. This generally applies to only people who live in big cities or expensive areas.  However, these gentlemen usually get $50-100 each. If there are several in your building tip based on who has provided more of a service to you. For example if you receive a lot of packages the day time guy should get a little more than the others.

Building Superintendent. A tip of $20-80 is appropriate for this person unless you use the super a lot. If so tip on the upper end of the scale or add an additional $10-20 to the tip amount.

Cleaning Lady. I read one statistic that said up to eighty percent of homeowners who use this service tip them at the end of the year. So don’t be the only one who doesn’t! A typical end of the year gift is equal to what you pay her for per visit. If each time she cleans your home she charges you $100, then give an additional $100 around the holidays.  The only exception to this rule is if you use a cleaning company and never know who is coming to your home. If this is the case, no need to tip at the end of the year.

Trash collector. These guys are usually overlooked each year, but consider giving each of them a $10-30 tip. Service providers who are rarely tipped often remember those homeowners that do and may provide slightly better service in the next year (think no broken glass or loose branches left at the end of your driveway).

Child’s Teacher/Nanny/Babysitter. People who care for our children and relatives are special people. Cash gifts are expected in this instance. Teachers and tutors usually receive between $25-50 at the end of the year. While nanny’s and babysitters typically get holiday tips equal to one week’s pay.

People to skip. By no means should you feel obligated to tip every service person you use throughout the year. Only tip people who you see regularly (at least once a month) and you think are deserving of a tip. Otherwise, a twenty percent per visit tip without an additional end of the year tip is standard.

No matter who you tip or how much you tip always include a brief note (one to two sentences is sufficient) with your tip. Express your appreciation for that person’s service throughout the past year.

If you are ever unsure of how much to tip let the depth of your relationship with that person be your guide.

Hopefully this list takes a little bit of stress off your shoulders this holiday season. Happy Holidays everyone.


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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

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1 Comment

  1. Mateusz May 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I just hope whoever wirets these keeps writing more!

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