Holiday Tipping Guide to Help Simplify the Season

Get simple guidelines for tipping everyone on your list this holiday season.

Published December 2, 2022
Woman getting parcel during Christmas holidays

There are countless people you interact with throughout the year that help your life run smoothly. From hair stylists and babysitters to mail carriers and landscapers, there are lots of individuals you may want to give a holiday tip to. Give appropriate tips to all the people who make your days easier by following this simple holiday tipping guide.

Who Should You Think About Tipping During the Holidays?

Create your holiday tipping list by thinking of all the service providers in your life that make a difference to you throughout the year. This list might be shorter or longer from year to year, so reevaluate each holiday season. Generally, you might expect to tip the people who provide services or types of assistance on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You might also want to include people you see one to three times per year for services.

Those you might consider tipping for the holidays are:

  • Mail carriers
  • Newspaper delivery people
  • Beauty service providers (hair stylists, estheticians, barbers, nail technicians, lash technicians)
  • Massage therapists
  • Personal trainers
  • Dog groomers
  • Dog walkers or pet sitters
  • Babysitters
  • Nannies
  • In-home care providers
  • House cleaners
  • Building managers
  • Door attendants
  • Handyperson/repair person
  • Landscapers
  • Sanitation workers
  • Pool cleaners
  • Mechanics
  • Restaurant delivery drivers
  • Delivery drivers (UPS, FedEx)

How Much to Tip Each Person on Your List

There are general guidelines to follow for nearly every person on your holiday tipping list, so you can say goodbye to uncertainty when you follow these basics. Whether your holiday giving is by amount, percentage, or frequency of service, you can be sure that everyone on your list will receive the tip amount that best communicates your gratitude this holiday season.

Mail Carriers

Since mail carriers are federal employees, there are certain guidelines you'll want to keep in mind as you figure out your holiday tips for the year. The United States Postal Service doesn't allow mail carriers to accept more than $50 in thank you gifts in one calendar year, and they recommend giving a gift of $20 or less in the form of a small item for the holidays. Cash, checks, and gift cards that can be exchanged for cash are not permitted. Gifts that amount to $20 or less that fit right in your mailbox might be the best option. Try small gift sets, gourmet cookies or candy, or gift cards they can treat themselves with.

Newspaper and Package Delivery People

For the people who deliver your packages and newspapers all year long, including UPS and FedEx workers, stick to a set amount that you feel comfortable with. Generally, it's appropriate to tip these service providers with cash in the $10-30 range.

Single Visit Service Providers

For service providers you usually see a few times a year for a single service visit provided outside of your home, you can stick to a general tipping range. For these types of providers, you can tip them the amount of one service or visit for their holiday thank you tip. However, if you tip them at every visit throughout the year, you might be able to forgo tipping them for the holidays.

Service providers to tip in the amount of one service or visit price:

  • Dog groomers
  • Dog walkers
  • Hair stylists and barbers
  • Nail or lash technicians
  • Massage therapists
  • Estheticians
  • Personal trainers

In-Home Service Providers

For the people who provide services or care for your home or members of your family, the holiday tip you offer will be an additional form of gratitude for all they do for you during the year. For many of these service providers, you can consider tipping an amount that ranges from the amount of one service up to one week's pay, depending on the frequency of the service.

  • Pet Sitters - One service payment up to one week's pay
  • Babysitters - One service payment
  • Nannies - One week's pay
  • House cleaners - One day's up to one week's pay
  • In-home caregiver - One week's pay
  • Landscaper - One service payment
  • Pool Cleaner - One service payment

Other Service Providers

For all other service providers, you'll likely pay them with a designated amount of cash or based on a percentage of the general service payment amount. Think about how often you see them, whether they're employed by your city or other entity, and whether you've established a friendly relationship with them. Also, consider whether you tip them regularly throughout the year. Some general ranges for holiday tips include:

  • Door attendants: $25-150
  • Building managers: $75-150
  • Handyman: $20-30
  • Sanitation Workers: $10-30
  • Mechanic: $15-40
  • Restaurant Delivery Drivers: 15-20%

How and When to Tip for the Holidays

Tipping for the holidays can be an easy process. Try sticking to the classic ways of tipping, like tucking the tip into a festive card or simply presenting it in person with a sincere smile. When it comes to the period when holiday tips are most often expected, the general giving time frame is from the week of Thanksgiving up until the first week of January.

The two to three weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday is the time when most people gift their holiday tips. For service providers you may only see a few times a year, choose the service date that's closest to the window of holiday tipping for in-person delivery, or simply mail a card with your gift of gratitude.

Budget-Friendly Tipping Ideas

Most people understand that finances aren't always abundant during the holiday season and will appreciate a small thoughtful gift just as much as a cash tip. You can get creative with small gifts that are purchased or homemade. Try small tokens of appreciation like candles, coffee mugs, homemade holiday treats, or thoughtful cards. You can even pool with neighbors to provide a larger gift.

If you find that a tip or gift of any kind does not fit your budget, a friendly and sincere "thank you" can make anyone feel appreciated. Opt for a friendly conversation and specifically praise the person for all of their hard work, great attitude, and dedication. Tell them just how much their service means to you throughout the year. A specific and intentional verbal expression of appreciation can be a great encouragement.

When to Gift Instead of Tip

Besides budgeting, there are times when giving a gift, rather than a tip, is more in line with general etiquette. For these situations, you might present someone with a gift basket, a small purchased gift, or a homemade holiday treat. In many of these cases, gifts aren't expected but are just an extra expression of appreciation and holiday cheer. A few examples of people that you may want to gift rather than tip include:

  • Realtors
  • Lawyers
  • CPAs and accountants
  • Coworkers
  • Teachers
  • Daycare workers
  • Pastors, reverends, and church leadership

Another time to consider giving a gift rather than a tip is when you know a service provider more as a friend and have developed a close relationship with them over time. If your landscaper has become a dear friend or your child's babysitter feels like part of the family, consider a thoughtful gift selected just for them in place of or alongside a holiday tip.

Sincerity Goes a Long Way

Whether tipping, gifting, or expressing your appreciation through words, the key to a memorable holiday tip is to be sincere. Give your tips or gifts from a place of true gratitude, and make a point to carry that perspective with you all year long. The people who make your life run smoothly, provide your home and family with services, or just simply make daily interactions a joy are deserving of kindness and appreciation all year long.

Holiday Tipping Guide to Help Simplify the Season