Vol. 4, Issue 6November 2012


Holiday Tipping and Gifting

There are lots of people you want to remember at the holidays, including the people who help make your life better and easier. But how do you show your appreciation for people like your hairstylist, your dog groomer and others?

First, keep your holiday spending limits in mind. As with any gift, you should give no more than you can afford. If your budget is tight, consider a homemade gift. And every gift, whether cash or cookies, should be accompanied by a personal note expressing your appreciation.

If you are giving cash, though, how much is appropriate? The etiquette website of Emily Post suggests basing your decision on the quality of the service and the length of time you have worked with the person. In general, amounts are greater in urban areas than in rural. But Emily Post’s guidelines for the cash value of a gift include:

  • Live-in household help: One week or one month’s pay, plus a personal gift.

  • A live-in nanny or au pair: A week’s pay, and a small gift from your child or children.

  • Regular barber or stylist: The cost of a typical haircut or styling, or a gift.

  • Personal trainer or massage therapist: The cost of one session, or a gift.

  • Newspaper delivery person: $10 to $30, or a small gift.

  • Mail carrier: Small gift. The U.S. Postal Service prohibits carriers from accepting cash or cash equivalents such as gift cards; any other gift cannot be valued at more than $20.

  • Doorman: $15 to $80. If there are multiple doormen, give $15 each or a small gift.

  • Regular pet groomer or dog walker: One grooming session or one week dogwalking, or a gift.

  • Other workers, such as building superintendent, handyman, elevator operator, trash collector: $10 to $80, depending on the level of service and your interaction, or a gift.

  • Regular baby-sitter: A typical evening’s pay, and a small gift from your child or children.

    Finally, Emily Post notes that a holiday gift is a sign of appreciation for the service of the past year, not a bribe to ensure service for the next year. If you don’t feel you are getting good service from someone, you should find another source for that service.