The holiday season is here, and you’ve been in a shopping frenzy, checking recipient after recipient off your list. But wait, did you forget someone? What about all those people who do everything you don’t have the time—or the skill—to do throughout the year, like maintaining your garden or pushing you through an early-morning gym routine? Who do you tip from that army and how much is appropriate?
We’ve collected sage advice from etiquette and lifestyle experts so you’ll never be in doubt again.
Full-Time or Live-In Nanny, Regular Babysitter
Tip: One week’s salary for each year of service
The person who cares for your children is indispensable. April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert from RelationshipAdviceForum.com, stresses that these caretakers deserve a big tip. “If this is someone you would have a hard time replacing were [they] to quit, give [them] a reason not to with the tip,” she says. “Double it if you can, and if you can’t, include a thoughtful gift that can be a food basket, a basket of toys for his or her children, or a weekend hotel stay for [them] to get away from all kids—yours and [theirs]!!”
Tip: One to two times what you pay for a typical session
Personal trainers work hard to keep you motivated and in shape, so tipping them around the holidays is a nice gesture. Hank Coleman, publisher of finance site MoneyQ&A, says, “I try to budget for the equivalent to one or two times what a typical session costs as a holiday gift.”
Mail Carrier, Delivery Driver
Tip: $20–$200, depending on the complexity of the job
For those who deliver your mail or packages, tip an amount that corresponds with the level of service they provide. Masini says, “If your delivery people go out of their way to get things to you—like call you if you’ve got a delivery when you’re not home or hide things so they don’t get stolen—give it back to them at the holidays.” Adding a personal note and a gift, like a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, shows that you really care.
Hair Stylist, Barber, Manicurist, Masseuse, Facialist, etc.
Tip: A bigger tip than what you normally give of up to the price of one service
If you have a go-to hair stylist or barber, they deserve something special around the holidays. You already tip them, so Richie Frieman, best-selling author of REPLY ALL…and Other Ways to Tank Your Career, recommends going beyond the usual tip. “Surprise them with a card and an extra big tip out of the blue, after your regular service,” he says. “Bring the card with you, and when you go to tip, hand the envelope to them and top that normal tip off with a ‘nice lump’ increase.”
Housekeeper, Lawn Care Servicer
Tip: Up to one week’s pay or a small gift
Lisa Richey, etiquette expert and corporate trainer from the American Academy of Etiquette and Manners To Go, recommends putting cash in a holiday greeting card with a brief note of appreciation for your housekeeper or lawn care servicer.
Home Nurse, Private Nurse
Tip: A thoughtful gift, but check first with their employer
There may be guidelines to follow here, so Richey suggests checking with the nurse’s employer. If gifts are allowed and you know a little bit about your caregiver, give something that pertains to their interests. “Nurses serve a very important role in our lives. Why not make the gift special and thoughtful?” she says.
Building Superintendent, Door Attendant, Handyperson
Tip: Gift card, gift basket, flowers
For these service providers, Frieman recommends nonmonetary gifts, like flowers, gift baskets, or gift cards. He says, “They spend the day welcoming others with a smiling face, and it’s only fair to put one on theirs.”
Trash or Recycling collector
You may rarely interact with the people who collect your garbage, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve special thanks this time of year. Masini says that if you can tip them in person, that’s best. “If not, leave a tip in a noticeably festive box or envelope and give cash,” she says. “Do you have to tip this person? No. Should you? You bet!”
Pet Groomer, Dog Walker
Tip: The equivalent of one service or one week’s pay
Like nannies and babysitters, people who take care of your furry family members should receive something special. Frieman prefers a gift card instead of cash, but he suggests that you make it something that will allow them to treat themselves—courtesy of you.
Use the guidelines above while you plan your holiday tips, and as you spread some extra holiday cheer, remember to think ahead and stay within your means to avoid holiday debt. But if you’re determined to give more than you have stashed away for the holidays, have a plan in place to easily manage any debt.