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The Care.com Holiday Tipping Guide

Tiffany Smith
Nov. 28, 2017

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.

Image via Unsplash.com/David Everett Strickler

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.)

>Cross holiday tipping off your list! Tip all of your caregivers today through our website (or our app)
>Find extra holiday help to keep your spirits bright this season

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 
Cobbler Don't tip
Coffee Shop Barista $10-$20 for someone you see regularly
Contractor Don't tip
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
Dentist Don't tip
Doctor Don't tip
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
Garbage Collector $20-$30 
Gas Station Attendant $10-$20 for someone you see regularly 
Groomer Cost of 1 session 
Hairdresser or Colorist  Cost of 1 session 
Handyman $15-$50
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
Newspaper Carrier $10-$20
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 
Tailor Don't tip
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
Veterinarian Don't tip
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
Before Thanksgiving        7%
The end of November        6%
Early December       55%
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:

Dos

  • 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'ts

  • 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.

 

Tiffany Smith has written for All You, Time for Kids, and the Boston Globe. As a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Follow her on Twitter

Comments
Brandon in Argyle, TX
Dec. 15, 2017

I'm not a big commenter but I want to point this out: Dentist Don't tip Doctor Don't tip Veterinarian Don't tip Physical Therapist Don't tip As a DDS/healthcare provider, we go through SO much effort to provide you with excellent quality care that you as a patient will never notice (extra agents (above the standard of care) to decrease sensitivity of a filling slightly more is one example). My only point here is that nothing means more than a card from a patient on Christmas. It means a LOT. Most people on this list would love a Christmas card as a "tip".

User
Nov. 12, 2015

As a building concierge and manager in Boston, I can honestly say $20 is LOW and $200 is HIGH. People are reading this from New York City to Mobile Alabama, so DIFFERENT GRATUITY RANGES DO APPLY. My professional opinion is 15-25% of one month's rent divided up among the entire staff that helps you is the recommend range to be in i.e. in NYC a $9000 a month rent would be $1800 in staff gratuities and in middle america a $1500 rent would be $300 in staff gratuities divided up by yourself accordingly to the team in SEPARATE cards/envelopes. So a staff of 10 people in Mobile Ala would get $30 each and in NYC would get $180 each) we make average wages not $$ and not poor house (also we pay for own dry cleaning usually). A tip should not feel OBLIGATED but should feel like a good deed. Keep in mind your building concierge is doing more than saying Hi and bye. He/she is handing your mail, packages, your guests and security, even helping with bags and etc. He/she is working nights, weekends, and holidays this time of year in lieu of spending time with family (when many others have the time off) to provide you a service and this is the only time of the year where buildings allow tipping (so those not tipped moments during the year should also be considered in December) Lastly never assume \

User
Feb. 19, 2015

I suggest that the employer be the one to provide all monetary consideration; this allows the employee to deal with one person and know how much they will earn for hours worked. I really rebell when I get a suggested tip amount, based on after tax added, of 25% when I am ordering after standing in line at a cash register, getting my own drink. Basically they are no different than McDonalds but want a large time on a much more expensive menu. If I order online they require payment with a card but want a tip added. Again I say for the employer to pay the employee and not expect a handout from the customers.

User
Dec. 17, 2014

Should I have to tip for this advice?

User
Dec. 16, 2014

So the in house NURSE, a licensed, educated professional should have a $20 tip, while the nanny should have 1-2 weeks pay and a gift? It seems there must be an error here.

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