The holiday tip can be a way to say thank you to the people who don’t hear it much from you throughout the year.
But figuring out whom to tip and how much to give without breaking the budget can be stressful, especially for people who aren’t already in the habit of doing so.
About 30 percent of people are not planning to tip for the holidays, according to a survey by Care.com, a website that pairs families with caregivers. Of those who are giving, only 41 percent of people said they budgeted for it. About 30 percent are tipping cash only and 60 percent are giving cash and gifts.
The list of whom to tip will be different depending on where you live and what your relationship is with the service provider. If you can’t tip everyone, prioritize the people who truly make your routine easier, says Lizzie Post, author and spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute. “You want to think about who is it that has really been in your life,” she says.
Think about tipping your baby sitter, especially if she is always available when things come up at the last minute, Post says. For some pet owners, now may be a good time to thank the dog walker who makes the rounds with your furry friend every day. People in big cities might want to thank their apartment building manager who holds packages for them at the front desk. For someone with a house in the suburbs, it may be more important to tip the garbage man or the gardener.
But don’t feel the pressure to tip everyone the same way, Post says. For the people you already tip regularly, it may make more sense to give them a small gift instead, she says. Don’t go into debt if you don’t have the cash to tip everyone on your list. Small gestures such as a homemade gift, a baked good or a handwritten note can still make a difference.
If you aren’t sure how much to tip, a general rule of thumb is to give as much as the cost of the service or of one week of pay, depending on the person. Here are some suggestions from the Emily Post Institute:
Gardener: $20 to $50 each
Trash collector: $10 to $30 each
Doorman: $15 to $80 (If you have more than one, give $15 each or a small gift.)
Newspaper delivery person: $10 to $30
Dog walker: Cash worth up to one week of pay or a gift
Personal trainer: Cash up to the cost of one session or a gift
Hair stylist: Cash up to the cost of one visit, divided among the staff; if you tip regularly, consider a small gift instead
Barber: Cash up to the cost of one haircut or a gift
Housekeeper: Cash up to one week of pay or a small gift
Day-care worker: A gift or $25 to $70 for each person who works with your children
Baby sitter: Cash up to one night’s pay with a gift from your children
Live-in nanny: Up to one week of pay and a gift from your children