Holiday tipping: Who to tip and who to skip


When you’re setting your holiday budget, don’t forget about the people who’ve gone out of their way to make your life easier throughout the year!

But who exactly should get a tip and who can you skip? It can be hard to decide.

2016 holiday tipping guide 

Read more: 73% of Americans don’t want to receive this Christmas gift

According to Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, start by looking at your personal budget.

If money is tight, prioritize based on the service providers who mean the most to you.

‘Gratuity is a form of appreciation and also encourages continued commitment to future good service. We build relationships with those we routinely see and the holiday season is the perfect time to express our gratitude,’ Gottsman said. 

So while the amount that you give will depend on your relationship with the person, Gottsman has provided a few recommendations to consider: 

Who gets a tip

Babysitter: One night’s pay or a gift card.

Nanny: One week’s pay and a small gift or note from your child.

Hair stylist, personal trainer, manicurist & massage therapist: Cash or gift card equivalent to one service. 


Yard / garden worker: Tip equivalent to one service, whether it’s weekly or monthly.

Pool cleaner: Up to the cost of one week’s service. 

Weekly housekeeper: Up to the amount of one week’s pay.

Newspaper delivery person: $10 to $30.

Dog walker: Cash gift equivalent up to a week’s pay.

Condo/apartment doorman: $20 to $100, depending on the level of service you receive.

Handyman: $20 to $100. 

Trash collector: $10 to $25 per person. Check local regulations. 

Mail carrier: Gift valued up to $20. USPS employees can’t accept cash or gift cards.

Official USPS policy


All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.

Read more: Don’t buy these gift cards this holiday season

Tipping while traveling 

When traveling during the holidays, or any time of the year, remember to leave a few bucks for people who are often forgotten: the hotel housekeeper, bellman and shuttle driver. 

Hotel housekeeper: $3 to $5 daily, with a note that says “housekeeping.”

Bellman: $1 to $2 per bag.

Airport shuttle driver: $1 to $2 per person. 

Restaurant server / bartender: 18% to 20% of the tab.

Valet: $2 to $5 upon retrieval of car. 

Who you can skip 

Gottsman says there’s no reason to tip your doctor, dentist, lawyer, dry cleaner, tailor and cable or IT professional — but you could always bring them a tray of cookies to show your appreciation.

Follow this link to read more of Gottsman’s tipping advice on her website.

Watch: Diane Gottsman’s holiday tipping guide 

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