Holiday Tipping Guide: Who to Tip at Holidays and How Much

Holiday Tipping Guide: Who to Tip (and How Much)

Holiday tipping is a great way to show your appreciation. But who do you tip at the holidays? This holiday tipping guide will help you figure that out.

Be sure to check out popular consumer expert Clark Howard’s video “Full Show: Holiday Tipping Guide and Tax Credit Warning.” In it, he gives you some guidance about how much to tip the workers who provide so much good service in our lives.

An Introduction to Holiday Tipping

holiday tipping - waitress working a holiday table

Holiday tipping is a cherished tradition in many cultures and businesses around the world. It not only fosters goodwill but also cements relationships with those who play a vital role in our daily lives.

As the holidays draw near, many wonder about the etiquette of tipping and who should be on their list. Here are five compelling reasons why holiday tipping is essential:

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  • Acknowledging Consistent Service: Throughout the year, various professionals provide consistent and quality service, ensuring that our lives run smoothly. Whether it’s your mail carrier, the doorman, or your regular hairstylist, a holiday tip is a way of acknowledging their year-long dedication.
  • Building Strong Relationships: Tipping during the holidays is an excellent way to strengthen relationships, especially with those you interact with regularly. It shows them that you value their services and want to maintain a good rapport in the coming year.
  • A Gesture of Goodwill: The holiday season is a time for giving and spreading cheer. By tipping, you’re participating in this season of goodwill, ensuring that the spirit of generosity touches as many lives as possible.
  • Encouraging Quality Service: A tip can act as a token of appreciation for exceptional service. By tipping during the holidays, you’re also encouraging these professionals to continue offering quality service in the future.

Holiday Tipping Guide

Mail and Package Delivery Services

Holiday tipping - courier smiling in front of packages in a van

You probably send and receive a lot of mail and packages over the holiday season, and perhaps throughout the rest of the year as well. So it’s a good idea to tip your letter carrier and any package delivery professionals who you interact with regularly.

  • USPS Letter Carrier: the USPS allows letter carriers to accept gifts of up to $20 in value, as long as they’re not cash. A gift card may be the most convenient option.
  • UPS Package Delivery: If there’s a driver that you interact with regularly, you can tip them about $25 in value. The company prefers tips are not given in cash.
  • FedEx Package Delivery: FedEx drivers are allowed to receive gifts of up to $75 in value.
  • Other Delivery Services: For things like newspaper delivery or courier services, you can tip up to $30 at the holidays.

Tipping your mail and package delivery personnel is a way of showing gratitude for their year-round service, especially during the holiday season when their workload typically increases.

Practical Advice:

  • Consider adding a personal note of thanks along with your tip to make it more meaningful.
  • If you’re unsure about the exact amount, err on the side of generosity, especially if you receive frequent deliveries.

Building Staff

who do you tip at the holidays

If you work in a commercial building, there are probably a ton of different people who keep your operations running, from doormen and security to cleaning and maintenance staff. You may not actually interact with all of these people regularly. But determine which ones are most relevant to your business when creating your holiday tipping budget.

  • Cleaning Staff: The holiday tips for your cleaning team vary depending on how much you normally pay them. Give about what you pay for one session. If there’s a full team, divide the tip among everyone.
  • Landscaping or Gardeners: Those who maintain your building’s exterior may be less active during the winter. But you can still tip these individuals between $15 and $40 each.
  • Doormen or Security: Tips to doormen and security guards can vary widely. If you don’t interact with them regularly, you can give as little as $10 at the holidays. If they help you a lot throughout the year, then you can give as much as $80.
  • Building Superintendent: If your building has a supervisor or superintendent, you should tip them up to $100 at the end of the year. If their duties are limited or you’ve tipped throughout the year, you can give as low as $20.

Building staff, including cleaning, landscaping, and doormen, often go unnoticed, yet they contribute significantly to your daily convenience. Tipping them is not only a kind gesture but also a recognition of their hard work.

Practical Advice:

  • If your budget is limited, prioritize those you interact with most frequently.
  • For shared services like cleaning and landscaping, consider pooling tips with other tenants or businesses to give a more substantial amount.

Child Care Professionals

who do you tip at the holidays

If you need help caring for your children or pets while you run your business, the holidays are a perfect time to recognize their contributions.

  • Teachers: Gift values can vary between $25 and $100 depending on your location. And gift cards are usually a better idea than cash. Check with the school first to see if they have any specific policies about holiday gifts.
  • Babysitters: For those who watch your kids on a semi-regular basis, give them an extra night’s pay and perhaps a special gift from your child.
  • Full-Time Nanny: Depending on how long they’ve worked with your family, you should give them the equivalent of at least one week’s pay but up to one month’s pay. You should also get them a personal gift from your child.
  • Daycare Service: Gifts for each person who interacts with your child should fall between $20 and $70 in value.
  • Dog Sitter/Walker: Give them cash or a gift card that’s the equivalent of about one or two week’s pay.

Child care professionals play a pivotal role in supporting your family or business. Holiday tipping for these individuals is a way to show your appreciation for their dedication and care.

Practical Advice:

  • Personalize your gift or tip by including a hand-written note or a small gift from your child, adding a personal touch to your appreciation.

Restaurant and Hospitality Staff

who do you tip at the holidays

Generally, you should tip hospitality staff at the time service is provided. However, you might provide an additional tip or gift during the holidays for those who you interact with regularly.

  • Waitstaff: Give between $10 and $50 to anyone who serves your business on a regular basis, like those who have worked events for you or those who work at one of your regular meeting spots.
  • Maitre D: If there’s a restaurant with a heat waiter/waitress that you frequent, give them between $50 and $100.
  • Golf Professionals: If you host a lot of meetings on the golf course, tip caddies or instructors either $50 or the cost of one session.
  • Front Desk: For those who frequent hotels or country clubs with front desk attendants, tip anywhere from $10 to $50, depending on how often you interact with them.
  • Locker Room Attendants: If there are locker room attendants at the country clubs or health clubs you visit regularly, give between $10 and $50 each during the holidays.

For those in the hospitality industry, the holiday season can be particularly hectic. An extra tip or gift can be a great morale booster for these hardworking individuals.

Practical Advice:

  • Remember that a personal connection can make a tip feel more special. A simple “Thank you for the great service this year” can go a long way.

Service Professionals

who do you tip at the holidays

You don’t necessarily need to tip every service provider you’ve worked with throughout the year. But any that you interact with on a regular basis may deserve some recognition.

  • Transportation Service: If there’s a driver who you work with regularly, give about 20 percent of your monthly bill.
  • Parking Attendants: For parking or garage attendants who you interact with regularly, you can give between $10 and $30.
  • Virtual Assistant: If your business uses one, tip them $50 at the holidays, or the equivalent of one hour’s pay.
  • Freelancers: For those who have helped your business on a contract basis throughout the year, consider tipping them the equivalent of their hourly rate, or $50.
  • Beauty Professionals: If there’s a hairdresser, barber, or manicurist you work with regularly, you can tip them 15 or about 20 percent of your normal service at the holidays. This should be in addition to what you tip after each service.

Service professionals like transportation services, parking attendants, and freelancers often have a direct impact on your daily operations. Tipping them during the holidays can strengthen your business relationships.

Practical Advice:

  • If you’re a regular customer, consider giving a slightly higher tip than the suggested amount to acknowledge their consistent service.

Who Not to Tip

Holiday tipping - who not to tip

Generally, it’s not customary to tip highly skilled professionals like accountants or physicians. If you feel that any of these service providers went above and beyond during the year and you’d like to recognize them, send a gift instead.

holiday tipping - dentist working on a patient

A nice gift basket with sweets or a gift card to their favorite restaurant would be a more appropriate gesture than sending cash.

holiday tipping - cupcake gift box

Additionally, government employees are not allowed to receive cash tips. And you should check with each company you work with beforehand to see if they have a specific tipping policy.

While tipping is widespread, some professionals do not traditionally receive tips. Understanding this helps avoid awkward situations and ensures your gesture is appropriate and appreciated.

Practical Advice:

  • When in doubt, a thoughtful gift or a sincere thank-you card can be a suitable alternative to cash tips.

How to Set a Holiday Tipping Budget

who do you tip at the holidays

Holiday tipping is an opportunity for you to show extra appreciation for those who have helped your business throughout the year. If you have a limited amount to spend, reserve it for those who you interact with on a daily or regular basis.

If you cannot afford to give cash or gift cards to everyone, gifts of a similar cash value may also be acceptable. Just make sure not to give cheap promotional items with your company’s logo on them in lieu of cash. A nice gift basket or heartfelt note and card would be more appropriate.

If you can afford to give a little extra to those on your list, just make sure it’s going to be sustainable year after year. You don’t want to set unreasonable expectations that you won’t be able to meet going forward.

Practical Advice:

  • Start planning your holiday tipping budget early in the year. This allows you to allocate funds gradually and avoid a financial crunch during the holiday season.

Who Do You Tip At the Holidays Summary

Service CategoryService ProviderTipping Suggestion
Mail & PackageUSPS CarrierUp to $20 (gift card)
UPS DeliveryAbout $25
FedEx DeliveryUp to $75
Building StaffCleaningOne session's pay
Doormen/Security$10 - $80
Superintendent$20 - $100
Child CareTeachers$25 - $100
BabysittersExtra night's pay
NannyWeek to month's pay
HospitalityWaitstaff$10 - $50
Maitre D$50 - $100
Front Desk$10 - $50
Service ProfessionalsTransportation20% of monthly bill
Virtual Assistant$50 or hour's pay
Beauty Pros15% - 20% of service

The Takeaways

holiday tipping to the barista

Holiday tipping is a tradition that has far-reaching implications in fostering relationships and appreciating those who make our daily lives more comfortable.

From delivery services to beauty professionals, there’s a wide array of people we can extend our gratitude to through thoughtful holiday tipping. Here’s a summary of what you need to keep in mind:

  • Recognize Consistent Service: Tip those who have been consistent in providing quality service throughout the year. Overtip if you’d like since it’s the holidays!
  • Build Stronger Relationships: Use tipping as a tool to strengthen your bond with those you interact with regularly.
  • Participate in the Season of Giving: Spread cheer and goodwill by including as many people as possible in your holiday tipping.
  • Encourage Quality Service: Your tips act as motivation for continued quality service.
  • Consider Who Not to Tip: Be mindful of the professionals and government employees who typically do not receive tips, opting for gifts instead when appropriate.
  • Set a Tipping Budget: Plan your holiday tipping budget, keeping sustainability and meaningful gestures in mind.

Remember, tipping is more than just a monetary gift; it’s a reflection of appreciation and goodwill. The guidelines provided here can help you navigate this tradition with grace and consideration.

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to show those around you that you value their contributions and want to acknowledge their efforts. It’s these human connections that make the holiday season truly special.

Holiday tipping is a thoughtful practice that enhances relationships and expresses gratitude. When planning your holiday tips, consider the frequency and quality of the service provided, your personal budget, and the standard practices in your community.

Remember, the essence of holiday tipping lies in the spirit of appreciation, not the monetary value of the tip. By being mindful and generous within your means, you can make the holiday season brighter for everyone who contributes to your daily life and business.

Be sure to check out resources like Clark Howard’s video for guidance on specific amounts and further insights. May your holidays be filled with joy, gratitude, and thoughtful giving.


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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions
  1. This is great. I love how you have it all written down. It can get quite confusing if you don’t know how much to give.

  2. How about your residential garbage men? Ours are courteous, prompt, and reliable and go above the call of duty.

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