Just like that, the holidays are right around the corner. And while you are likely already thinking about what to gift your friends and family this season, knowing how much to tip your service providers can be more of a question mark. While there are actually a number of people you should consider tipping during the holiday season, says Bonnie Tsai, etiquette expert and founder of the consulting agency Beyond Etiquette, you've likely heard the most about giving your mail carrier a little something extra this time of year. According to Tsai, a gift card for merchandise or services—not cash—valued at $20 or less (the maximum allowed by the USPS!) is appropriate for your mail carrier.
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There are a few other key providers—from your babysitter to your dog walker—to tip come the holidays, says Tsai, and there's an appropriate amount to give each. Full-time domestic workers, like a nanny, chef, or personal caregiver should be given between one week to one month's pay, plus a personalized gift; part-time domestic workers, like a weekly housekeeper or landscaper, should be gifted the equivalent of one day's pay or $50—whichever is higher. Give babysitters the cost equivalent of a typical shift's pay and a small, personalized gift from your children; for day care providers, plan to give between $25 and $75 for each staff member who works directly with your children and a small, personalized gift from your child. A personal trainer should be give the cost equivalent of a session, while you'll want to give a dog walker up to one week's pay, depending on how frequently they walk your dog. Your pet groomer should receive the cost equivalent of one grooming session. If you live in an apartment, plan to give the building superintendent between $20 and $80, each doorman between $50 to $100, and the handyman between $20 and $50, depending on the frequency of services. If you have the newspaper delivered daily or weekly, plan to give the carrier between $10 and $30.
And while holiday tips are a nice way to show your appreciation, they're not necessary for every provider on your list. For the following, Tsai recommends sending a holiday note to thank them for their care and attention throughout the year: your accountant, attorney, financial adviser, bookkeeper, dentist, general practitioner, and veterinarian. Take a similar approach for all if you're not in the financial position to tip, Tsai explains—a batch of homemade cookies is perfectly fine, so long as it is accompanied by a thoughtful card. "I think the note is always important so that they know that you're expressing gratitude for what they do for you," says Tsai.
As for how to best deliver tips, if you are able to gift them, Tsai says that a card is key: "I always recommend giving it in an envelope with a nice thank-you card or a holiday card so they know it's intended as a holiday tip and an extra token of appreciation for what they do for you [throughout the year]," says Tsai.