All your holiday tipping questions, answered

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and part of that means spreading the cheer. We give gifts to our loved ones, but it’s also nice to give back to the people who help us all year. They rely on a holiday bonus from us just as much as we rely on their services every day.

But among Americans, there seems to be some discrepancy in who to tip, and how much to give. For city dwellers, the answer may be very different from people in the suburbs or country. And everyone has their own threshold they’re comfortable with, in terms of how much pocket change to give away.

There’s no one right answer to how much to tip during the holidays, and it’s okay to be as generous as you want to be. That said, here’s a look at some of the professions that often count on holiday tips this time of year and how much is normal to give.


Arguably, you should be tipping your barber or hairdresser all year. But the holidays are an especially good time to show you’re grateful for your great ‘do with a little extra cash.

One in three Americans say they’re tipping their stylists this holiday season, according to a recent Quartz and SurveyMonkey poll. Usually, those tips fall below $50, and about a third of them are going to be between $20-$29.

However, if you’re feeling especially thankful, it’s okay to give up to the cost of one salon visit. If you’re someone who’s spending hundreds on your locks, that may not be practical. It really depends on the context.

Postal service and garbage collection

Mail carriers actually aren’t supposed to accept money from the people they serve. As government workers, they’re allowed to take a gift with a $20 value or less, but they can’t technically take a tip. So if you want to say “thank you” to your mail carrier, that’s great — buy them a fun or useful present that’s around $20. It may not be cash, but it’s sure to put a smile on their face.

Same with garbage collectors — in some municipalities, tipping isn’t allowed. If you live in one of those, give a gift. If not, $10-30 should do.


Whether you use a daycare, babysitter, live-in nanny or other childcare, it’s a good idea to show the people who take care of your children that you appreciate their help. Some people tip up to thousands of dollars.

But exorbitance isn’t necessary. For a babysitter, try one or two nights’ pay for a tip. Give a nanny or au pair the equivalent of a week or two in salary. And at your child’s daycare, anywhere between $25-$70 per employee who works with your kid is great.

Pet care

Just like we rely on others to watch our children, we need someone to look after our pets. After all, Teddy needs his walks!

During the holiday season, it’s nice to give your dog walker up to one week’s pay and a groomer a tip up to the price of one visit. Only 5% of respondents to the Quartz/SurveyMonkey survey tipped their dog walkers. But when they did, they gave an average of $79.

Apartment building

For people in an apartment, it can make for a nice gesture to tip your staff. Supers and managers get tipped an average of $114, according to Quartz, though anywhere between $20-80 is absolutely fine. Doormen and elevator operators could use a tip as well, ranging from $20-100 (doormen should get closer to $100, while anywhere between $20-50 is fine for an elevator operator).


Your newspaper doesn’t magically arrive on your stoop. Someone delivers it every day, and they could benefit from a tip. It’s recommended to give the cost of one month’s subscription, or $10-30.

Cleaning and repair

Pool cleaners, handymen and people who work for cleaning services also may expect a holiday tip, especially if they’re regulars. A tip up to the price of a single visit, or weekly salary, is good for those who stop in on a routine basis (handymen can get less, from $15-40). For live-in help, up to a month’s salary is appropriate.


If you rely on a personal trainer or massage therapist, think about paying them up to the price of one session for a tip. They do so much to keep you in shape, and chances are they’re getting a small cut of whatever you’re paying their establishment.

As we get our holiday bonuses and enjoy the extra padding in our bank accounts, it’s good to spread the wealth and give back to the people who have given to us throughout 2018. A small tip can go a long way during the holidays, so here’s to paying it forward.