Holiday Tipping Guide – Just in Time for the Holidays

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” – and also the most confusing when it comes to holiday tipping. A holiday tipHoliday tipping guide from Etiquette Expert Diane Gottsman should primarily be based on your personal financial situation, as well as your emotional connection to your loyal and trusted employee, service provider or trusted family caretaker.

So…before you start writing checks and making change, take a look at my Holiday Tipping Guide below.  Keep in mind that the following list is only a suggested guide and each individual must ultimately decide what is most comfortable and appropriate.  You may also refer to my print-friendly version and keep it handy in the coming weeks.

Holiday Tipping Guide

Your Child’s School
The word “tip” is an incorrect term for this category but one of the most commonly asked questions.

Children’s Teacher and Teacher’s Aid – A gift card to a favorite store or coffee shop, along with a heartfelt note from your child is appreciated and appropriate. But before you run out the door to your local coffee shop, it’s a good idea to check the school gift giving policy before making any purchases. Some schools and classrooms have a holiday “tipping pool” so make sure to inquire in advance.

School Secretary and/or School Nurse – Depending on your interactions, a small gift or gift card along with a thoughtful note from your child. My daughter spends a great deal of time in the nurses office due to asthma related symptoms and I always make sure to send her a special holiday gift of appreciation in the form of a treat – not a holiday “tip.”

School Bus Drivers– When pulling together the perfect gift for your child’s teacher, remember to put just as much time and effort into personalizing something for his or her friendly school bus driver.  After all, they help to get the school day off on the right start for your child and safely bring them home to you each day.  Be sure to check with your local school district on their gift policy for bus drivers.

At the Office
Office Assistant
– Do not give a holiday” tip” unless it is in the form of a “bonus”. A gift card or an actual gift would also be appropriate and welcome. Stay away from anything that can be perceived as too personal.

Beauty, Fitness and Health Personnel
Hair Stylist
– The cost of one service. (Could range anywhere from $20-$100)

Manicurist – The equivalent of one visit, or less if she routinely cuts your cuticles too short and makes you bleed.

Personal Trainer or Massage Therapist – The equivalent of one session.

Nursing Home Staff (those who take care of your parents, grandparents or beloved family members) – A generous basket of holiday treats.

Private Health Care Nurse– A gift card to a favorite store or restaurant, or a gift equivalent to one week’s pay.

In Your Home and Neighborhood
(once a week) – A holiday card with one day’s pay enclosed.

Housekeeper (weekly) – A holiday card with one week’s pay enclosed. Depending on the relationship, you may consider also giving her a thoughtful gift.

Children’s Nanny – One to two weeks’ pay and a handmade gift from your child.

Once a Week Babysitter – The equivalent of one night’s pay, plus a note from your child.

Dog Walker – A cash amount equivalent to one service and a little “puppy kiss” from your pet.

Neighborhood Trash Collector – Check the local regulations for public service employees. If there are no restrictions, and your neighborhood sanitation worker is pleasant, helpful and goes beyond his duty to pick up your rubbish, such as carrying off heavy furniture and putting your waste containers back on your property instead of leaving them in the middle of the street, 10.00 to 15.00 per person would be thoughtful.

Apartment Doorman – Cash in the amount of $50 upwards, depending on his level of service provided throughout the Etiquette Expert Diane Gottsman shares her Holiday Tipping Guide Listyear. Some doormen get upwards of 100.00 because of special services throughout the year. Some doormen received multiple hundreds of dollars, based on their relationship with the tenant and extra duties they provide.

Landlord or Building Manger – Depending on their level of service, $50-100 annually. Some landlords you never see and a tip would not be an issue.

Elevator Operator – Organize a tenant tip pool or give between $20-50 if there is not a tip pool at the apartment or building.

Building Handyman – $20-50 – depending on service rendered throughout the year.

Garage Attendant (Building or Apartment Dwelling) – Duties vary from building to building. Consider the extent of service and tip accordingly, approximately $50-100.

Pool Cleaner and/or Gardener – The equivalent of one week’s service.

At Your Doorstep
U S Postal Service
– Government regulations do not allow US postal carriers to accept cash gifts of any kind and only a small non-monetary gift that is worth less than $20.

FedEx and UPS– FedEx doesn’t restrict gifts or tips, but not more than $75, while UPS does not have an official protocol and the gift should be determined based on the relationship between you and the driver. My neighborhood UPS driver says he wouldn’t turn down a cash gift but the company would prefer drivers be given a token gift rather than cash. Refer to my “Tip, Gift or Skip” post for more detailed FedEx, UPS and US Postal Service tipping information

Newspaper Delivery–$10-30 (unless he is always late or throws your paper in a mud puddle).

Ways to Make Your Holiday Tip Even More Thoughtful:

  • Use crisp bills versus old, torn and worn out dollars.
  • Consider delivering your tip with a batch of homemade cookies or treats.
  • Handmade cards from your children add to the fun and are especially appropriate for school personnel.

Happy Holidays,


Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.


  1. Kathy says

    Dear Diane, It is so helpful to have the Holiday Tipping Guide. Thankyou. Sometimes I feel go gilty for not giving enough, or did too much in tipping, but to have the right balance, is grace , and that you have. I’m greatful for your blog. Thankyou. Kathy

  2. Diane says

    Kathy, Thank you for your kind comment! I’m so glad you found the Tipping Guide helpful. Wishing you a most lovely holiday season, Diane

  3. Laura says

    Thank you for such a comprehensive tipping guide! I printed it out and will refer to it for years to come. Happy Holidays!

  4. jean says

    Thanks so much for remembering the teacher’s aide. Some parents overlook them and only give to the teacher. It causes hurt feelings.

  5. Diane says

    Jean, I’m so glad you found my tips helpful! My pleasure – teacher’s aides help make learning possible in today’s busy classroom. Happy Holidays!


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