Holiday Tipping Guide

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Holiday tipping can be confusing and intimidating, and the list of people we should tip or give a gift to seems to be growing. Last Thursday, two etiquette experts, Peter Post and Jodi R. R. Smith, joined us to explain who to tip during the holidays and how much we should give. We received a lot of calls and comments, especially about how much to give door men and supers. Here are some of the guests’ recommendations:

If you live in a building with a lot of service employees—maintenance people, elevator operators, doormen, etc.—Peter Post recommends giving a cash gift to a manager and ask that it be distributed to everyone.

Super: The range is $20-$100, depending upon how much contact you’ve had with the super, how much work he or she has done for you, and the quality of service.  If your super doesn't provide reliable, quality service, Peter Post recommends raising that issue at the time of service and giving a small gift or tip at the holidays.

Doorman: The range is $15-$200. Again, it depends on your own budget and how much contact you have with the doorman.

Mail carrier: There are rules about what US postal workers can accept. They cannot accept cash or gifts over $20 in value.

Babysitter: One or two evening’s pay and/or a small gift from your children, for babystitters you hire regularly.

Nanny: One week’s salary; add to that for every year of service.

Newspaper delivery person: $10-$30, or a small gift. If you only get the New York Times delivered on weekends, you can give a tip on the lower end of that spectrum. Many paper deliverers include a card this time of year with an address, so you can send a check, which is convenient since many of us probably never meet the person who delivers the paper early in the morning.

Teachers: Some schools have rules about what teachers can accept as gifts, so you might want to check with the district or the school about what the guidelines are. A small gift is appropriate for a teacher, but a cash gift is not.

Tipping yoga instructors or other exercise teachers is not necessary, unless a class wants to get together to give a gift.

Jodi Smith stresses that your budget should determine how much you give, and that you shouldn’t go into debt to give holiday tips. A card with a note of thanks and appreciation and a small gift—baked goods or other inexpensive items—are fine.

Listen to the interview here. And you can visit  Mannersmith's end-of-year tip guide and Emily Post's holiday tipping guide