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Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Updated on April 27, 2015

Giving Holiday Spirit to Those Who Help You

You want to be generous at the holidays to those who you come in contact with on a regular basis. Chances are you've got several people you'd like to thank who provide services like hair cutting, dog walking, and childcare.

If you have no idea what an appropriate tip would be, you'll want to do a little research rather than make an embarrassing faux pas.

Image by All About Gifts & Baskets

Give gifts you can afford to give
Give gifts you can afford to give

Give Generously

But Only What You Can Afford

First off, give what you can comfortably afford, no matter what. There's no sense tipping the garbage man $30 if you can't even put food on your own table. The following are guidelines that you can adjust up or down based on your own unique financial situation.

And remember, tips are a lovely way to say thank you - not a requirement. No one will be expecting your thank you gift, but they will be pleasantly surprised when you hand it to them.

Just Remember

If you choose to tip, give only what you can afford. If you can't afford to, you're not obligated to tip!

Image by Andres Rueda on Flickr
Image by Andres Rueda on Flickr

Calculate Amounts on a Per Service Basis

Award a Great Job

According to the website (, there are certain amounts you should base your tip amounts on. Various service people or colleagues should receive a tip or bonus amount that directly relates to how pleased you are with their service.

Go higher for that assistant who goes out of their way to make sure your day runs smoothly. Over tip your nanny if the kids just love her.

Tipping Etiquette

Image by Philipshannon on Creative Commons
Image by Philipshannon on Creative Commons

Your In-Home Babysitter

The One Who Didn't Break That Vase

If you've got a steady favorite that the kids enjoy being with, and if she's been around for you when you've needed her; you'll want to offer her one or two nights of pay.

Or, if she's always carrying her iPod, you might consider a gift certificate to iTunes or another store she'd like.

Take notice of her hobbies or interests while she is around and play off of those ideas for unique gift baskets.

Gift Card Ideas - For Your Babysitter

Photo courtesy of Edenpictures on Flickr
Photo courtesy of Edenpictures on Flickr

Your Child's Day Care Workers

Or Anyone Who Has Patience for Kids

If you and your child love your day care provider, now's the time to splurge. If the center is small and you know everyone shares the responsibility for all the children, go with $25 in cash or a gift card for each worker.

The gift card can be to a local salon for pampering, or simply to a store you think they may shop. Some other good ideas might include Target, Walmart, or other large chain stores that sell a little bit of everything.

If you know only one teacher is in charge of your child's group, give more like $75. You can adjust your gift up or down based on your unique situation. Better to over tip here than under tip.

Photo courtesy of Nadya Peek on Flickr
Photo courtesy of Nadya Peek on Flickr

Your Indispensible Nanny

You Really Owe Her

If she's covered your back and never let you down, you'll want to tip her up to one month's pay. She's kept your children safe at their prime time to act up, spit up, or just having them up and awake is a chore in itself sometimes.

If she's part time, a week's pay is adequate. Or, you can consider getting her a gift she'd never be willing to indulge herself in like a mini laptop or luscious leather handbag from a high end store. Too high end? Consider giving her holiday gift baskets. There are so many options out there and many times, they're just as luxurious in a variety of ways.

Photo courtesy of Woodleywonderworks on Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Woodleywonderworks on Creative Commons

Your Child's Elementary School Teacher

Leave the Apples to Someone Else

Here, again, amounts vary. Does your child absolutely love going to school every day and rave about her teacher? You might want to go as high as $100 in a gift or gift card. If your child has more than one primary teacher, $50 each is perfectly fine. If there's a paraprofessional or aide that works exclusively in your child's classroom, don't forget her. $25 is an adequate amount there.

Try to avoid giving mugs, candles and sweets as teachers receive an overload of these. Better to go with a local coffee shop gift card and she can treat herself. There are so many creative teacher gifts that she will love to receive.

General Tipping Guidelines

Photo by David Sifry
Photo by David Sifry

Your God-Send Assistant

Who Saved Your Butt Last Month

If you've got a world-class assistant you can't imagine getting through the day without, go as high as you can. A $100 gift is certainly very generous. You could also give tickets to a concert or event or a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant.

Depending on your relationship, cash may be the better way to go. If you want something more intimate, choose a gift certificate to a shop you know they love but could never afford.

Image by Striatic on Creative Commons
Image by Striatic on Creative Commons

Your Favorite Mailman

Bringing The News

Postal workers cannot accept gifts over $20, so plan accordingly. Therefore, cash and gift cards are typically easy to turn down. Opt for a nice holiday gift that you wouldn't mind receiving yourself, such as munchies or treats, travel coffee mugs, or something of the sort.

If you do want to opt for cash or a gift card - you are still welcome to, just make sure you don't exceed their limit or it'll be more disappointing than exciting.

Take the Poll

Photo by AMagill on Flickr
Photo by AMagill on Flickr

Do you always give your regular service providers holiday tips?

See results
Image by Aldenchadwick on Flickr
Image by Aldenchadwick on Flickr

Your Confidant Hairdresser

Who's Been So Good All These Shears...

When you visit your hairdresser before the holiday season, offer her the cost of one haircut as a cash tip. She'll be surprised and delighted, not to mention she might be more willing to fit you in at the last minute next time you call too.

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr

Your Wonderful Housekeeper

Or Housekeeper(s)

If you have your own housekeeper, tip her a week's pay. If you use a service and don't even know the person's name because you never see the same person twice, you don't have to tip unless you want to. If you do choose to, you can leave a tip at the service's office for the girls who work at your house regularly.

Remember, you don't have to tip. It's just a nice way of saying thank you to the people who service you regularly.

Got Comments? - Leave 'em!

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    • profile image

      momsfunny 6 years ago

      I am glad you put in that part about, "if you can't afford it you are not obligated" that is important. Some people these days are finding it very hard just to get by.

    • Barthlays profile image

      Barthlays 6 years ago

      I loved it ! Etiquette is sometimes perceived so old-fashioned but on the contrary it is a sign of education, civilization and progress ! I worked on a Lens on etiquette in the ballroom, you may like it !

    • raegal75 profile image

      raegal75 6 years ago

      If I could afford a housekeeper and nanny, then I could probably afford to tip - haha ;) I do tip the mailman and the garbage/recycling people and always buy my sons' teachers gifts (usually gift cards).

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 7 years ago

      Thanks for the great tips on tipping!

    • profile image

      GrinningFool 7 years ago

      Never sure who and how much I should tip.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      Very good information to have. Thanks.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 7 years ago

      I always tip the mailman, my hairdresser and my cleaning lady, but it is good to have a guide for just how much to give. Great lens topic!