Holiday Tipping Guide
Need advice on how much to tip your nanny, pet sitter or other people in your life? Here are holiday tipping guidelines from etiquette experts.
When we have great people in our lives taking good care of our kids, aging parents, pets and/or homes, we couldn't be more thankful. Holiday time makes many of us stop and realize just how lucky we are. So, how do we show it? In this economy, amid expenses of raising a family, and a fast-growing holiday gift list, not everyone has unlimited financial means. Luckily, according to etiquette experts, there are still lots of great ways to convey our thanks.
No Cash? No Problem
While it's important to budget cash gifts to your most valued caregivers, personal gestures and gift cards can work for others. Consider reframing how you think about rewarding good service, says Rebecca Black, etiquette specialist, teacher, and founder and principal of Etiquette Now! in Davis, Calif. "Think of it as 'gifting' rather than 'tipping'." It could be just about anything -- as long as it's thoughtful," she says. Recall conversations you've had with your intended recipient. Does he/she often talk about movies? Get a gift card for the local movie theater. Does he/she always seem to have a cup of coffee or tea? A gift card to a local coffeehouse and/or a special mug may be just right.
Use what you know about the person. Etiquette expert Charlotte Reed, author of "Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette" approaches etiquette from a unique perspective; she left the Wall Street corporate law world to open Two Dogs & A Goat, a full-service pet care firm in New York City and the Hamptons. Reed echoes the impact of thoughtful gifts. "Gesture gifts are important because people like to be remembered -- and you'll get better service," she says. In fact, cash alternatives may be more special for your recipients. "A gift card to a local department store, spa or Starbucks gives them a way to treat themselves. Otherwise they may end up using the cash you gave them to buy others' gifts."
Guidelines on What to Give
Ms. Black offers some helpful holiday tipping guidelines:
Employees in the Home: This includes nannies, house cleaners, senior care aides. Give 1 to 2 weeks' pay, depending on years of service. There is no "year minimum" that tells you to make it 1 versus 2, though. In addition to a holiday bonus and/or paid time off around the holidays, also consider a personal gift for your nanny or aide, such as something from the kids (think: scarf and glove set) or spa gift certificate.áNeed ideas for what to give your nanny for the holidays? Read our article on 26 Gift Ideas for Nannies ╗
Want more information on holiday tipping? Read our holiday bonus guide for caregivers ╗
Regular Babysitter: If you've found an amazing sitter who has enabled you and your spouse a regular date night or helps give you breaks during the day, give an average night's pay as your tip. If she has a special relationship with the kids, include something special they pick out for her.
Newspaper Delivery Person: In this case, cash is often the best gift. Give $10 - $20, depending on the service you receive.
Occasional Caregivers: This may include your gardener, hair stylist, manicurist, pool cleaner, house cleaner, etc. Give the equivalent of one session's fee. Or consider alternatives like boxes of candy or products they may have mentioned.
Tutor, Coach or Counselor: People who have a special bond with your child or have helped him reach certain goals might get an end of the year treat. Consider their interests with a $10-$20 gift card to a local restaurant or store. Or, arrange for all families to chip in for a group gift.
Doormen, Building Supervisor and Attendants: Knowing what the condo or apartment norm is can be challenging. Each building is different and each job varies in complexity and face-time. But even the behind the scenes support needs a token of thanks. Typically, an individual tip could be between $10 to $200 to each building staff member. Asking other residents what they give or coordinating a group gift to the super might ease the stress.
Mail Carrier: Baked goods might be the ticket here. Of course, using what you know about him or her is best. If they always seem to have a cup of coffee in their truck, perhaps a nice thermal coffee mug would be the perfect gift.
Dog Groomer: The equivalent of one grooming session.
Dog Walkers and Pet Caregivers: An individual dog walker may appreciate cash more than anything, says Reed, who recommends giving 1 to 2 weeks' pay. But if you can't afford it, give them a gift "from" your dog, like a hat, gloves or picture frame. In some cases, though, it's a dog walking service that you've hired, so you have more people to thank. A small but thoughtful gift for the group, like a basket of fruit or homemade treats, is greatly appreciated. This is true for the staff at your pet's veterinarian too.
Final Tips for the Tippers
- Before tipping people who work for the government, an agency, or an organization, check their gift giving policy. For example, as you think about how to thank your mail carrier, remember the U.S. Postal Service regulations dictate they can't receive anything more than $20 in value per occasion - no cash is allowed; gift cards are fine as long as they can't be exchanged for cash.
- If you choose to give cash, present crisp bills in a card. It's so easy to simply throw money in whatever envelope you happen to find first, but a card will present the tip as the thank you gift that it is. It's best to include a note with the money expressing how much you appreciate their hard work. You want this gift to be perceived as heartfelt, not an obligation.
- Never re-gift. It's just too obvious. Re-gifting is not only tacky, it's conveying a message to your kids that it's okay to be sneaky and ungrateful!
Affordable full time live-in child care for all your kids @ $340/wk. Search for your Au Pair today!
Get a Cash Offer Good for 30 Days! Free Shipping + Fast Payment. Lock in a Risk-Free Offer Today!
Care.com HomePaySM handles your household payroll and taxes without work, worry or risk.
The world’s most experienced and largest intercultural live-in child care program.
Since 1988, EurAupair has been devoted to assisting families with their child care needs.
Insure your non-refundable camp fees with cancellation insurance from A+ Program Protection.
Hire Pediatric Nurses, Pre-School or Special Needs Teachers at $11.30/h incl. health care.
Come see for yourself why KinderCare is the place where thinking thrives and friendships flourish.