What Do You Do About Tips During The Holiday Season?

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Christmas Card

So let’s just say you’ve done a great job crossing all the items off your gift list early this year. What about extra tips for folks who provide services to help your life run smoothly? Maybe that’s not enough to say. Maybe they’ve become, in certain ways, like members of an extended family to you–but in any case, what are you giving them for the holidays? Is it a certain amount of money? A gift? What if you don’t make a ton of cash yourself? We’ve found some general and local guidelines for tipping this year, but would appreciate input from you, too.

Using information from Entrepreneur’s Tipping Guide and responses from the Park Slope Parents 2013 Tips Survey, we found:

House cleaner: Average via PSP $103, Entrepreneur says up to the cost of one visit
Superintendent: Average via PSP $97, Entrepreneur says $20-80 or a gift, depending on helpfulness
Doorman: Average via PSP $80, Entrepreneur says $15-100
Dog walker: Average via PSP $72, Entrepreneur says up to one week’s pay or a gift
Normal mail carrier: Average via PSP $30, Entrepreneur says small gift or gift card up to $20
Personal trainer: Average via PSP $104, Entrepreneur says up to the cost of one session or a gift
Babysitter: Average via PSP $55, Entrepreneur says an evening’s pay plus a gift from your child
Hairstylist: Average via PSP $48, Entrepreneur says $50-100 or a gift (up to the cost of one haircut or a gift for a barber)
Teacher: Average via PSP $32-51 depending on level, Entrepreneur says a gift card up to $25 or pitch in with other parents for a more expensive gift certificate
Nanny: Average via PSP $200-522 depending on hours (77% gave one week’s pay), Entrepreneur says one or two weeks’ pay and a gift from your children

The tipping suggestions above include only people for whom both PSP and Entrepreneur gave input, but if you’re curious about what to give your parking attendant, porter, FedEx/UPS carrier, exercise instructor, manicurist, daycare provider, massage therapist,  sanitation worker, newspaper carrier, yard or garden worker, handyman, pet groomer, or pool cleaner (?), check out each respective article for more. And if the season has you wondering how to give back to the waitstaff, bartenders, baristas, and other service industry workers who keep you fed and caffeinated all year long, here are some thoughts on that.

Some other suggestions from the publications include making sure the person in question can legally receive tips and with what stipulations (for instance, be extra careful of value restrictions and to put all students’ names on a gift to a teacher from his or her class), making an effort to deliver your tip or gift in person, and giving a hand-written note whether or not you are able to give a tip or gift.

So, what are your thoughts on all this? Do any of the suggested amounts seem off to you, and has anyone important been left off the list? What’s enough to say a proper thank you to the people who work hard for you all year — especially if you’re on a budget? And what have you found, aside from a big stack of bills, makes your gesture mean the most to the recipient?

Photo by Virginie Millour

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