Articles & Guides
What can we help you find?

Holiday tipping guide: Who should you tip and how much?

Here’s what etiquette and caregiving experts (and more!) recommend for holiday tipping in 2023.

Holiday tipping guide: Who should you tip and how much?

Table of Contents

While any time is a good time to show your appreciation for someone who regularly makes your life easier and more enjoyable, the holidays traditionally are the time to express your gratitude in the form of cash or a gift. By no means is holiday tipping mandatory, but giving a little something extra at the end of the year to someone who regularly provides you with a service is always appreciated.

“A holiday tip or gift should be given to anyone you do business with on a regular basis — babysitters, gardeners, hair stylists, mail carriers, pet sitters, housekeepers, etc.,” says Aileen Avery, author of “Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving” and founder of The Art of Gift Giving

According to Avery, holiday tips needn’t be over-the-top to be valued — but they should always include a handwritten note, expressing your gratitude. “The point is to show someone they’re appreciated,” she explains.

Feeling a little lost when it comes to who should get a holiday tip and how much the tip should be? This 2023 holiday tipping guide offers expert insight on what’s suitable to give. 

Who to tip this holiday season and how much

When figuring out how much to tip and who to give it to, experts recommend taking the following into account:

  1. The relationship.
  2. Your budget. 

“Make a list of all the people who provide you service throughout the year and decide if you are going to give them a holiday tip and how much,” says Suzy Lins, certified etiquette trainer and founder of The Manners Maven. Lins adds that, for financial sake, the earlier you make this list, the better.  

Once you’ve created the list, Lins suggests prioritizing who will get what level of tip. This can be done “based on how often you use their service and your relationship with them.” For instance, if you don’t have the budget to tip everyone (who does?), someone like a regular babysitter would get tipping priority over, say, a one-time landscaper. 

Why tipping caregivers is important during the holidays

When it comes to your holiday tipping list, caregivers should be at the top, as they’re not only an integral part of daily life for many, these folks often go above and beyond throughout the year. 

“Holiday tips and bonuses serve as opportunities for parents to recognize the huge role caregivers, such as nannies and babysitters, play in their families,” explains Michelle LaRowe, lead trainer at Global Nanny Training. “While it’s not required, issuing a year-end bonus or giving a tip for full- or part-time employees is industry standard. And more so, it goes a long way in sending the message that they’re valued and appreciated.”

The same sentiment holds true for senior caregivers, says Christie Ziegler, director of communications and marketing at Kavod Senior Life in Denver. 

“Senior care workers do everything they can to ensure the health and safety of their clients,” she says. “Many aides answer calls from clients after hours, form caring relationships and attend to individual needs not expressly documented in their contracted care plan. Additionally,” Ziegler adds, “these workers may not get paid very high wages, so every bit of extra gifts or bonuses acknowledge these extra efforts.”

2023 holiday tip chart: Expert recommendations

For suggestions on who — and how much — to tip at the end of the year, check out our expert-approved holiday tipping guide.

Au Pair1-2 week’s pay and an optional small gift from kids
BabysitterAverage day/evening pay for regular sitters and an optional small gift from kids
BarberUp to the cost of 1 session
Bartender$20 for someone you see regularly
Building Porter / Janitor $25-$100, depending on involvement
Building Superintendent$100-$200, depending on involvement
Cleaning CompanyAn extra 20-80%, depending on duration of relationship
Cobbler$10-$20 or a small gift for someone you see regularly
Coffee Shop Barista$20 for someone you see regularly
ContractorDon’t tip
Country Club Staff$25-$50 for someone you see regularly
Daycare or Child Care Center StaffGift card worth around $20 or a small gift
DentistDon’t tip
DoctorDon’t tip
Dog Boarder or Kennel StaffHandmade or baked goods
Dog Daycare10-20% of your pet’s stay
Dog Sitter$50-$200 in cash or gift card, depending on frequency
Dog Walker$50-$200 in cash or gift card, depending on frequency
Doorman$25-$100, depending on involvement
Driver / Limo Service$20-$50 or 20% of monthly bill
Dry Cleaner$10-$20 gift card or homemade goods
Errand Runner$50 to 1 week’s pay, depending on how often you use
Fitness InstructorCost of 1 session or a small gift
Food Delivery (Local restaurants, Uber Eats, Doordash, etc.)$20-$30 for someone you see regularly
Garbage Collector$10-$30 per person
Gardener / Landscaper$20-$30
Gas Station Attendant$10-$20 for someone you see regularly
Hairdresser or ColoristUp to the cost of 1 session (or a gift if you tip well throughout the year)
Handyman / Handyperson$25-$50
House Cleaner$20-Up to the cost of one visit
HousekeeperAn extra 20-80%, depending on duration of relationship
Kids’ Activities InstructorSmall gift from your kids or gift card
Kids’ Coach (Athletics)Small gift from your kids or gift card
Live-In Help (housekeeper, senior care aide, nanny, chef, etc.)1-2 week’s pay
Mail CarrierNon-cash gifts under $20
Massage TherapistUp to the cost of 1 session for someone you see regularly
Mother’s HelperAverage day’s pay for regular helper and a small gift from your kids
Nail Tech / ManicuristUp to the cost of 1 session
Nanny1-2 week’s pay (possibly more if the nanny has been with you a long time). For new nannies, one day’s pay for each month of employment 
Newspaper Carrier$10-$30
Nurse (in-home nurse, private nurse)Small gift and a handwritten note
Nursing Home or Assisted Living Community StaffHomemade gift or gift card
Package Delivery PersonSmall, non-cash gift
Parking Garage Attendant$10-$20 for someone you see regularly
Personal AssistantUp to 1 week’s pay
Personal Chef1-2 week’s pay or cost of one session, depending on frequency
Personal TrainerCost of 1 session
Pet Daycare StaffHandmade gift or baked goods
Pet GroomerUp to the cost of 1 session
Pet Sitter$50-$200 in cash or gift card, depending on frequency
Pet TrainerDon’t tip
Physical TherapistDon’t tip
Pool Cleaner$25-$50
Postal Worker / Mail CarrierFood, such as baked goods, or non-cash gift worth less than $20
School Bus DriverSmall, non-cash gift
Senior Care AideUp to 1 week’s pay or small gift
Snow Remover / Shoveler$25
TailorSmall gift for someone you see regularly
Teacher$25 gift card and/or small gift from your kids
Teacher’s Aide / AssistantSmall gift from your kids
TutorCost of 1 session and small gift from your child, depending on frequency
VeterinarianDon’t tip
Waiter / Waitress$20-$40 for someone you see regularly
Yoga teacher / InstructorUp to cost of 1 session or small gift for personal teacher; no need to tip group instructor

What tipping ideas for tight budgets can help during the holidays

Many people can’t give a holiday tip to everyone who’s served them throughout the year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still show appreciation. 

“The recession has hit many people hard,” acknowledges Lisa Mirza Grotts, a San Francisco-based etiquette expert. “If you can’t be as generous as you were in holidays past, consider giving a homemade gift and note of appreciation.” The key, experts across the board agree, is showing appreciation. “Never let the thought of not doing enough keep you from doing something,” says Heather Wiese Alexander, an etiquette expert and founder of Bell’INVITO. “If all you can do is write a thoughtful note, you’d be amazed at how much it will be appreciated.” 

For families who don’t have it in their budget to tip their nanny at all or as much as they’d like, LaRowe says “words of appreciation, a framed photo of the nanny with the children or having their favorite snacks in the house” all go a long way. 

If you’d like to still tip even if money is tight, consider tipping one or two people who have had the biggest impact, such as a babysitter or teacher.

“Every year, I give my kids’ teachers a $25 gift card because I know they spend their own money on classroom items that their salaries don’t always cover,” Avery says.

How to prioritize your holiday tipping list

Grotts keeps a running list of people who have provided service to her throughout the year and looks it over every December 1 to determine how to prioritize tipping. If you, like many, didn’t have such forethought, consider writing down the people you regularly do business with and prioritize the people who have had the biggest impact. 

“If a housekeeper comes weekly and you have your hair done monthly, those are the people you should prioritize,” notes Grotts. “And the same for caregivers or anyone else who serves you all year long.” 

“If you find yourself having a long list of people you want to tip, you may have to give less in order to get to all of those important people in your life,” adds Mariah Grumet, founder of Old Soul Etiquette. “It’s much more so about the gesture of showing your appreciation than it is the exact amount.” 

How to navigate tipping fatigue: Balancing generosity with practicality

The holidays are already an expensive time of year, so feeling like you need to tip anyone and everyone can feel overwhelming — but, according to Lins, it needn’t.

“The first thing to do when deciding who to tip at the holidays and how much, is to figure your budget and then work within it,” she says. “What you tip will vary depending on where you live and also your relationship with the service provider. And remember: Not all tips need to be monetary. A thoughtful gift or note is also appropriate for certain people.”

When a gift is better than cash — and vice versa   

While it’s not the only way to go, cash is often the preferred gift for many caregivers and service workers, says Grotts. “Cash is king, whether it be the green stuff, a Visa gift card or the like,” she notes, adding that many service workers are paid minimum wage. “And if possible, it’s nice to augment the cash with a small gift and always a personal note of thanks.”

Another consideration is whether someone’s employer allows cash tips at all. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, says that its mail carriers shouldn’t accept cash gifts of any amount (including checks and gift cards), and non-cash gifts should be under $20 (and under $50 from any one customer, per calendar year). Also, some healthcare workers and aides are discouraged by their employer to accept gifts, as it may be seen as a “conflict of interest.”

If you aren’t sure if someone is able to receive a cash gift, reach out to their employer to find out.

Digital tipping: How much to add on an iPad tip screen

Tablets, such as iPads, have become a common way to check out in the last year, with almost all of them asking customers what, if anything, they’d like to tip. 

“Tipping was once a way to show our appreciation for good service, and it’s now evolved into tipping in every aspect of our lives — including when paying for a cup of coffee,” says Lins. “Don’t feel pressured to tip in those instances.” 

“Tipping is personal and the decision is yours to make based on your budget,” she continues. “My rule of thumb is, if it’s a place a business I frequent often or my order is complicated, then I leave a tip.”

Of course, around the holidays, everyone feels more generous, Lins adds, so leaving a dollar or two for minimal service is thoughtful and sure to be appreciated.

What’s the difference between a tip and a bonus for caregivers?

Technically speaking, an employer gives a bonus to an employee while a customer gives a tip for a service (read: when you dine at a restaurant), LaRowe explains, adding that both are considered supplementary income. So whatever you decide to call your end-of-year caregiver gift, really, it’s just “a matter of linguistics.”

That said, a bonus for a caregiver who is also a household employee is considered part of your caregiver’s compensation and is subject to taxes.

The bottom line

Holiday tips and bonuses are always appreciated, but you should never feel obligated to dole out more than you have, especially since there are other ways to show gratitude.

Says Grumet: “This time of year is more so about the gesture of showing your appreciation than it is an exact amount.” 

“Never underestimate the power of kindness,” adds Grotts. “It costs nothing and the rewards are endless.”