As the holiday season draws near, giving a monetary gift to those who have continually gone above and beyond throughout the year can be a cheerful way to show your appreciation. The amount you choose to give is heavily dependent on your relationship with the other person, the extent of services provided as well as the quality of their support.
The following is not a list of hard and fast rules, but merely a guide to reference as you create your gift-giving checklist. Consider your personal budget and give what you can comfortably afford.
How should you deliver a holiday gift or tip?
The best way to give a gift (which includes a tip) is in person. The next time you see the person, hand them their gift, a holiday card or envelope with the tip included. An alternative would be to mail or have your gift/tip delivered.
The Office Gift Exchange
Your Boss. Never give your boss cash. Consider pooling your resources with your coworkers and give one gift from the entire office. Or, bring in a tray of holiday goodies for all to enjoy.
Office Assistant. If a bonus isn’t on the radar, give a gift card or gift you are confident your assistant will enjoy. The cost of the gift should be based on the relationship and their tenure.
Coworker. Give something that the person collects or enjoys. (i.e. fun office products, coffee mug, flavored instant coffee, hot cocoa, inspirational desk calendar, etc.)
Client. Check the corporate gift giving policy before delivering a holiday gift. When appropriate, give something enjoyable, without a logo. (i.e. gift basket of gourmet foods, wine and cheese, fruit, etc.)
Secret Santa. Stick to the agreed upon dollar amount. Don’t drop the ball. Everyone in the office should participate unless there are religious or cultural reasons.
Gag gifts. Don’t give.
Teacher. Contribute to a “class gift” fund or purchase a gift certificate to a restaurant or retail store that your child’s teacher has indicated they enjoy visiting.
Teacher’s Aide/School Secretary. A small gift or gift card.
School Nurse. For the hero who takes care of your feverish or asthmatic child during the school day, a gift certificate or small gift is a nice gesture.
School Cafeteria Worker. If you work carefully with them to ensure your child is allergy free (nut, shellfish, etc.), a small gift or gift card. Check food service policy first.
Principal. A handwritten holiday card of appreciation, a gift card to a local coffee shop or a tray of cookies for the school office.
Doorman. $20 – $100; if your housing complex employs several doormen, tip them equally. Fewer doormen calls for a larger tip. Amounts vary depending on the city.
Handyman. $20-$100, especially if they are “Johnny-on-the-spot” night and day.
Garage Attendant. $10-$50, based on how frequently you use the parking garage.
Landlord or Building Manager. $50 upwards, depending on their level of support throughout the year.
Housekeeper. Tip equivalent to one day’s (or week’s) pay.
Newspaper Delivery. $20-$30 for those who brave inclement weather to deliver the daily news.
Pool Cleaner & Lawn Maintenance. Tip equivalent to one week’s service.
Trash Collector. Check local regulations for public service employees. If no restrictions, $10-$25 per person. If you miss them during the day, make arrangements to drop off the gift at their corporate office.
Babysitter. Tip equivalent to one night’s pay or a gift card.
Nanny. Tip equivalent to one week’s pay, a note from you and a handmade gift from your child.
Hair Stylist/Manicurist/Personal Trainer/Massage Therapist. A gift or tip equivalent to one visit. Tip amount is based on the regularity of service.
Shampoo Attendant. $5-$10.
Pet Groomer/Dog Walker. A tip equivalent to one service.
Private Health Care Nurse. A cash gift equivalent to one week’s pay or a gift certificate.
Mail & Package Delivery
UPS. “Our customers love their UPS drivers and often want to express their appreciation during the holidays. We train our drivers to politely decline tips, however, when a customer insists, we allow our folks to accept nominal gratuities. We do not suggest an amount or range for monetary gratuities. Customers often give UPS drivers baked goods, knitted items or other gestures of appreciation and the company ultimately trusts our drivers to use their best judgment about whether to accept or decline a gift.” (Dan Cardillo, UPS Media Relations)
FedEx. “Employees are allowed to except a nominal gift valued at up to $75. Gifts of cash, gift cards or gift certificates must never be accepted.” (Steve Barber, FedEx Global Communications)
USPS. “Mail carriers may not accept cash gifts or cash equivalents. They may accept a gift valued up to $20.” (Natalie Bonanno, USPS Ethics Counsel)
Restaurant/Coffee Shop Tipping
Maître D’/Hostess. $10 upwards, depending on the upscale level of the restaurant.
Wait Staff. 15-20% of the total bill.
Hotel Bartender. 15-20% of the bar tab, or .50-$1 per alcoholic drink.
Coat Check. $1-$2 per coat.
Restroom Attendant. .50 to $3.00, depending on the service they provide.
Lunch/Dinner Buffet Attendant. $2-$5 to the server attending your table throughout the night. For multiple diners, $1 per person.
Tip jar. No tip is necessary unless they provide a special service.
Barista. $1-$2 when you receive special attention. For the holidays, an envelope with $10 enclosed and a handwritten note, “Enjoy!”
Holiday Travel Tipping
Skycap at the Airport. $1-$2 per bag. Additional for curbside check-in.
Pilot/Flight Attendant. Do not tip.
Taxi Driver. 15-20% of the fare.
Limo Driver. 15-20% of the total bill. Check to see if gratuity has been added to the fare.
Hotel Doorman. $2-$5 for special services. No tip is necessary for opening the door.
Hotel Valet. $2-$5 at curbside upon retrieval of your car.
Hotel Shuttle Driver. $1-$2 per person.
Bellman. $1-$3 per bag (minimum of $5).
Front Desk. $5-$10 for exceptional service or if standing in for the concierge. Most often, however, a friendly smile and “Thank you” will suffice.
Concierge. $5-$10 for dinner reservations. $20 upwards for difficult to get seats, tickets and reservations. For directions or simple questions, no tip is required.
Hotel Housekeepers. $3-$5 daily, or $1 per person, per day, when there are more than five guests per room.
Room Service. 15 – 20% of the bill. Check to see if gratuity has been added.
Hotel Spa Providers (Masseuse/Facials/Waxing/Manicure/Pedicure). 15-20% of service unless gratuity has been added to the bill.
Pool Attendant. $1 per service.
Hotel Restaurant Wait Staff. 15-20% of the bill unless gratuity has been added.
Rental Car Shuttle Driver. $1-$2 per person.
*There is a difference between gratuity added to a room service bill and a service fee.
- Lawyer, Accountant, Doctor, Chiropractor, Nurse, Physical Therapist, Counselor
- Flight Attendant, Pilot
- Teachers, Principal, School Coach – looks like a bribe
- Postal Service Workers (no cash – a gift up to $20 in value)
- Nursing Home Attendants
- Transit Company Employees
- Your boss!