All year round we tip at restaurants, we tip our hair stylists and manicurists and also our Uber drivers and food deliverers. At the holidays many people like to say thank you to those individuals who have made their lives easier throughout the year by tipping them or buying them a gift.

Photo Credit: Sam Dan Truong

So who do you tip and how much?

**Note – This article was originally posted in 2017 and has been updated here with additional information.

It is customary to tip:

  • Regular Babysitter
  • Full-time Nanny/Au Pair
  • Day care staff/Teacher/Coach/Tutor
  • Doorman/Concierge/Valet
  • Building Superintendent
  • Dog Walker/Groomer
  • Hairstylist
  • Manicurist
  • Cleaning Service – if you have the same person(s) all the time
  • Home Health Aid
  • Personal Assistant

You might also want to tip your:

  • Children’s teacher
  • Landscaper/Gardener
  • Building maintenance staff
  • Newspaper delivery person
  • Dog Walker/Pet Care professional
  • Masseuse

The first step in deciding what to give is to find out if the recipient’s employer allows them to accept gifts. If they can accept gifts, are they allowed to accept cash, is there an upper limit on the value of the gift they are allowed to accept? In some cases as with teachers, its more customary to give a gift rather than cash and the school may put a cap on the value of the gift they can receive. In Massachusetts, public employees can’t accept gifts worth over $50.

While its customary to give cash to service providers like hair stylists, nannies, au pairs, and pet care professionals, if you’ve really gotten to know these people you might be aware of a particular hobby or interest that brings to mind a special gift or gift card for a particular store. Anyone interested in the iPad, iPhone, iPod etc. will happily accept a gift card to the Apple Store. Someone constantly on the go and a coffee drinker will likely appreciate a gift card from their favorite coffee place. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, cash or a gift. Should you find the perfect gift but want to spend more than it costs, there’s no reason you can’t add cash or a check to the gift.

So how much should you give? There are lots of recommendations for how much to give from the price of a haircut to a week’s pay for a full-time nanny. It really depends on what’s typical in your area and what you can afford You shouldn’t bust your budget trying to give what every one else is giving. If your budget doesn’t allow for tips or store bought gifts, consider homemade gifts. Who doesn’t appreciate homemade chocolate chip cookies?

Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Emily Post Institute
Access to Culture
Massachusetts Ethics Commission

Happy Holidays from Hands of Time Concierge