The Care.com Holiday Tipping Guide
Need advice on how much to tip your nanny or pet sitter? Here's an A to Z list of who to tip -- and how much.
Are you a holiday tipper? If you said yes, you're not alone -- a whopping 87 percent of people said that they give holiday tips, according to a 2017 Care.com survey of more than 1,200 members.
(And we'll just forget about the almost 13 percent of people who fall in the Scrooge category and don't give holiday tips at all. The silver lining here, though, is that that number is a decrease from the 19 percent who owned up to their Grinch-itude in 2016.)
Clearly, tipping is on the rise, says Patricia Rossi, author of Everyday Etiquette. "It's becoming more common and people are becoming savvier about it. Even 10 years ago I didn't see as much of it going on as I do now." To that point, almost 18 percent of respondents say they plan on spending more on tips this year than they did last year -- and about 61 percent plan on spending the same amount.
Check out our holiday tipping chart below, along with some tipping dos and don'ts. You'll also find an A-to-Z list of every person you could possibly want to tip -- and how much to give.
Why Do People Give Holiday Tips?
The holidays are an opportunity for you to show your caregivers how much you appreciate them and all they've done for you throughout the year. Case in point: 92 percent of survey respondents said that they gave tips for this exact reason, while 23 percent said that they gave tips because it's "expected." (Only 9 percent said that they gave tips because they were afraid that they wouldn't get high-quality service in the future if they didn't.)
"Holiday tipping is a way of thanking the people that make it easier for us to manage our own lives," shares Lizzie Post, co-author of Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th Edition.
Keep in mind that a holiday tip doesn't necessarily need to be money -- you could also "tip" your caregiver with a nice present, too. That said, the majority of respondents (60 percent) said that they actually prefer to give their caregivers a mix of money and a gift.
While it's important to show gratitude for all that your caregivers do, make sure that you also familiarize yourself with the tax rules and restrictions associated with giving holiday gifts/tips to child/senior care providers. (According to our survey, 74 percent of respondents weren't aware that there even were rules about this to begin with!)
Who Should You Tip?
A good rule of thumb is to tip people who you don't tip at any other time during the year, shares Steve Dublanica, author of Keep the Change.
Here are the top five types of care providers to whom our respondents give holiday gifts:
- 71 percent give tips to their child care providers (e.g., babysitter, nanny, day care worker, etc.)
- This is a considerable increase in the number of child care tippers, up from just 46 percent in 2016.
- 53 percent give tips to personal care professionals (e.g., hairstylist, manicurist, personal trainer, masseur/masseuse, etc.)
- 47 percent give tips to people who work with their kids (e.g., tutors, bus drivers, coaches, teachers, etc.)
- 43 percent give to delivery people (e.g., postal worker, news carrier, food delivery service, etc.)
- 41 percent give tips to home maintenance help (e.g., housekeepers, landscapers, trash collection service, odd jobs helpers, doorman, etc.)
That being said, figuring out who to tip can feel overwhelming. To help, we put together an easy A-to-Z guide that lists all of the people you may rely on for help throughout the year.
You probably can't afford to tip each of them, so prioritize the ones who are most important in your life. Start with those and see how far your budget takes you:
|Person||Suggested Tip or Gift Value|
|Animal Trainer||Cost of 1 session|
|Au Pair||1-2 week's pay and a small gift from your kids|
|Babysitter||Average day/evening pay for regular sitters and a small gift from your kids|
|Barber||Cost of 1 session|
|Bartender||$20-$40 for someone you see regularly|
|Building Porter/Janitor||$25-$100 depending on involvement|
|Building Superintendent||$25-$100 depending on involvement|
|Cleaning Company||Cost of 1 session or a small gift, if you see the same people regularly|
|Coffee Shop Barista||$10-$20 for someone you see regularly|
|Country Club Staff||$50 for someone you see regularly|
|Day Care Staff||$25 to $50 for each staff member and a small gift from your kids|
|Dog Walker||Cost of 1 session or 1 week's pay|
|Doorman||$25-$100 depending on involvement|
|Driver / Limo Service||$20-$50 or more if it's a regular driver|
|Dry Cleaning Delivery||$10-$20|
|Elevator Operator||$10-$40 depending on involvement|
|Errand Runner||$10-$40 for someone you hire regularly|
|Food Delivery Person||$10-$30 for someone you see regularly|
|Gas Station Attendant||$10-$20 for someone you see regularly|
|Groomer||Cost of 1 session|
|Hairdresser or Colorist||Cost of 1 session|
|Housekeeper||Cost of 1 session or a small gift for infrequent service|
|Kennel Staff||$10 to $20 for each staff member or food for the group|
|Kids' Activities Instructor||Small gift from your kids|
|Kids' Coach (Athletics)||Small gift from your kids|
|Landscaper||Cost of 1 session or $20-$50 for infrequent service|
|Live-in Help (housekeeper, senior care aide, nanny, chef, etc.)||1-2 week's pay|
|Massage Therapist||Cost of 1 session|
|Mother's Helper||Average day's pay for regular helper and a small gift from your kids|
|Nail Salon||Cost of 1 session|
|Nanny||1-2 week's pay and a gift from your kids|
|Nurse (in-home nurse, private nurse)||$25-$100 depending on involvement|
|Nursing Home or Assisted Living Community Staff||$10 to $20 for each staff member or food for the group|
|Package Delivery Person||FedEx: non-cash gifts worth under $75; UPS: encourages small gifts rather than cash|
|Parking Garage Attendant||$10-$20 for someone you see regularly|
|Personal Assistant||Small gift and a holiday bonus based on performance|
|Personal Chef||1-2 week's pay or cost of one session, depending on frequency|
|Personal Trainer||Cost of 1 session|
|Pet Day Care Staff||$10 to $20 for each staff member or food for the group|
|Pet Sitter||Cost of 1 session|
|Physical Therapist||Don't tip|
|Pool Cleaner||Cost of 1 session|
|Postal Worker||Food, perishable group gifts or a non-cash gift worth less than $20|
|School Bus Driver||$10-$20|
|Senior Care Aide||$25-$100, depending on frequency|
|Snow Remover/Shoveler||Cost of 1 session|
|Teacher||Small gift from your kids|
|Teacher's Aide/Assistant||Small gift from your kids|
|Tutor||Cost of 1 session and small gift from your child, depending on frequency|
|Waiter / Waitress||$20-$40 for someone you see regularly|
|Zumba/Fitness Instructor||Cost of 1 session or a small gift|
Do you have a nanny? Check out our interactive, state-by-state Nanny Holiday Bonus Guide for more advice.
When Should You Give Holiday Tips?
The earlier, the better, says Rossi:
It lets people know you're thinking about them and the tip isn't just an after-thought right before the holiday. And it will be more memorable because you were one of the first one to do it.
According to our survey results, respondents said that they typically like to hand out tips:
|Time of Year||Percentage|
|The end of November||6%|
|The end of December||31%|
|After the New Year||1%|
"I can't afford to tip everyone what I would like to," says Post. And many people feel the same way.
What If You Can't Afford to Tip?
Even if that's the case, you should still acknowledge the people who have helped you so much. When possible, tip at the lower end of the range. If you can't afford a cash or gift at all, offer homemade baked goods or crafts. Post also suggests spending extra time writing a heart-felt note. Mention that you may not be able to swing a big end-of-year tip this year, but that's not a reflection of the service. Talk to them about how you appreciate all of their hard work.
Holiday Tipping Dos and Don'ts
Need more help? Here are do's and don'ts to keep in mind:
- Do include a handwritten card or note, thanking the person.
- Do check any tipping policies for the building, company, organization, agency, etc. You don't want to get someone in trouble.
- Do give what you can afford.
- Do give crisp, fresh bills if you're giving cash.
- Do budget for tips.
- Do weigh your tip based on amount of interaction and level of service -- the more you see someone and the better your service, the more the tip.
- Do give group gifts that can be shared for staff, like food, flowers, etc.
- Do give both cash and physical gifts. Gift cards and alcohol are the most popular options.
- Do involve kids in the process. They can make a card or pick out a small gift to accompany the tip.
- Don't just hand someone cash -- it should be in a card or envelope.
- Don't tip salaried professionals.
- Don't tip store or business owners. Give a small gift if they provide exceptional service year-round.
- Don't feel pressured to tip everyone you can think of. Of the survey respondents who tip, about 54 percent of them said that they only tip one, two, or three people during the holidays. (And 32 percent said that they tip 5 or more people.)
- Don't tip people you see infrequently.
- Don't regift a holiday tip.
- Don't spend lavishly on holiday decorations, presents for family, etc. and forget about holiday tipping.
- Don't get heated about holiday tipping. 15 percent of people argue with their partner about who to tip or how much.
- Don't feel guilty. If you can't afford it, you cant afford it.