2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on holiday tips, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.
We’ve talked about what to tip your secretary for the holidays before, but we haven’t talked about the bigger question of other tips and year-end gifts — I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers, so let’s discuss. First, Reader M wonders:
I have a question about Christmas tipping that I’m sure many of your readers are facing and could potentially advise on. I live in a large apartment building in NY (our rent for a one bedroom is around $3500), and we just received our holiday tipping list and it includes almost 30 people! It ranges from building manager and head handyman to a bunch of doormen and various porters. What is an appropriate amount to give, and how should I divide it up? I’d like to get away with giving around $500, but that doesn’t seem realistic and I don’t want to seem cheap. I know that some people in our building end up just tipping the doormen, but that doesn’t seem terribly fair (though in past years we have ended up tipping the doormen slightly more). None of the guidelines I can find online deal with a building with so many employees!
Next, I can’t find the email right now, but another reader was wondering how much to tip her child’s daycare providers — while her child mainly had two teachers, a number of other floating teachers worked with and knew her child.
So: YEOUCH. Happy holidays, get ready to give! I spent a lot of time yesterday reading tipping articles, and a few basic rules apply wherever you are, whatever circumstance you’re worried about: Tip a lot to continue great service; tip less (but still tip) for people you should tip — look at it as good karma (paying for past services) as well as goodwill (paying for good future services). As always, I think it’s important to know how much other people are giving in the same situation; a lot of this is about managing expectations.
My husband and I did the math the other day and for all of the various people in our life we’ll be tipping about $1000 this year (most of it in cash), plus a few small token gifts (some chocolates for the floaters in his daycare section; a scarf for his regular babysitter in addition to cash). Readers, how much are you giving, and to whom this year? (Please also list your city, or area of the country). For those of you with secretaries, how much are you giving?
Some helpful articles on tipping…
- (for NYC:) BrickUnderground’s 2013 Holiday Tipping Guide [BrickUnderground]
- Your Ultimate Holiday Tipping Guide [Yahoo Finance]
- Holiday Tipping Guide: Who Gets How Much [Fox Business]
- Guerrilla Guide to the Holidays: End-of-Year Tipping Explained [Learnvest]
- How Much to Tip for the Holidays [Learnvest]
- Rethinking Your Holiday Tipping Philosophy [Daily Worth]
- Recalibrating Your Holiday Tipping for Today’s Tight Times [Daily Finance]