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"Tips on Holiday Tipping"

December 17, 2015

The Rockefeller Center Tree is lit, the frenzied Black Friday and Cyber Monday crowds have completed their binge-buying sprees, and boozy office holiday parties have gotten underway (with deliciously awkward results) -- in short, the holidays are here, and with them comes the annual panic over how much and when you should be tipping all the various people who (often invisibly) make your life the modern marvel of convenience that it is.

Time to break out the wallet or checkbook -- only, thing is, you haven't got a clue how much, when, and whom to tip.

How Much to Tip, When to Tip, and Who to Tip for the Holidays

So how much and when should you tip your doorman, your super, your babysitter, your dog walker, professional cleaning service, the elevator boy (if this were the 1910s), and all the rest?  To answer your burning questions, we present the AddressReport "Tips on Holiday Tipping" Infographic.

Use it as your go-to tipping cheat-sheet this holiday season (and share it with your clueless friends to make sure you don't get out-tipped and wind up looking like the cheap one when the topic comes up at Sunday brunch).

AddressReport's Holiday Tipping Guide

AddressReport Holiday Tipping Guide Infographic

Whom to Tip During the Holidays

As the guide suggests, the primary folks set to bask in your holiday largess include:

  • The Super or Resident Manager
  • Doorman / Concierge
  • Porter / Handyman
  • Garage Attendant (yet another reason owning a car sucks!)
  • Nanny / Babysitter
  • Newspaper Carrier (so it's a little old-timey, but they're freezing out there)
  • Housekeeper
  • Hairdresser / Manicurist (those who ought to tip these people know who you are)
  • Dog Walker (thinking twice? really? for this person who doubles as your pooper scooper?)
  • Mailman / Mail carrier (not depicted above; see discussion below on whether, and how much, to tip the mailman)

How Much to Tip During the Holidays

The amount to tip during the holidays ranges widely and depends on the person you're tipping (and, in many cases, on what you pay them for their services normally).

For example, doormen on average get about $25-$50 (newer doormen toward the bottom of the range, more senior doormen at the top of the range), while the super will typically get $75-$175. Make no mistake: building staff rely on these year-end tips and gifts as a core part of their annual income.

Nannies and housekeepers can expect a week's pay, while a babysitter typically gets whatever you ordinarily pay them for a single night of sitting (assuming they're your regular, go-to sitter). For your hairdresser or color treatment pro -- well, ask yourself: how high-end is the salon you go to and how high-maintenance are you when you sit in that chair? Tip accordingly. Refer to the Tipping Infographic above for more guidance.

Then there's your mail carrier. People are very mixed on this one; after all, isn't the mailman just a government employee doing his job? Good thinking, righteous idealist! For the realists, think about it this way: who spends more time in such close proximity to your very personal business than the mail carrier? For those living in a doorman building, tipping the mail carrier is optional (but still recommended); for those who live in a non-doorman building and tend to receive a lot of packages, a tip of $15 - $25 is highly suggested. Read more discussion on the debate over tipping your mailman here.

When to Tip During the Holidays

Tips are generally supposed to be given starting anytime in December (some even say immediately after Thanksgiving) and the holiday tipping season can extend as late as February, depending on when you're likely to see the people you intend to tip. Practically speaking, most of your holiday tipping should be done in the few weeks just prior to Christmas / New Year's Eve.

Getting the Holiday Tipping Data

So how did we gather all this great info? We did what any savvy Manhattan apartment dweller would do: a little research, a little quizzing of our more responsible friends, some advanced spreadsheet magic, followed by a celebration with some spiked eggnog -- our self-satisfied reward for taking on this unenviable task for yet another year.

Then we asked our friend Teri at NYC real estate survival website BrickUnderground (a tip of the hat -- pun fully intended -- to her wonderful "2012 Holiday Tipping Guide").

We hope these Tips on Holiday Tipping take out a little bit of the holiday stress. And remember: tipping is a very personal thing. The figures above are just guidelines, and they are naturally skewed by the fact that some people have a lot of cash to spread around in thanks (and to ensure ongoing premium attention). If things are tighter for you this year, just give what you can (keeping in mind that things are probably pretty tight for the folks you're tipping as well).