Holiday tipping with Nicole Lapin

By the time you've finished your holiday shopping and dropped major cash on all of the parties, presents, and a few things for yourself, perhaps tipping is the last thing on your mind. Our financial expert Nicole Lapin is here to break down who we should tip and how much?

How do we decide who comes first?

This time of year, it’s even more important to show gratitude for those whom you come into contact regularly.

Just remember: the key word is “gratitude,” not “excess.” It’s all in the delivery! Here’s who you should tip — and how much:

  • Personal employees: These people come FIRST!!
  • Housekeeper: Up to a week’s pay
  • Dog Walker: A day to a week’s pay
  • Nanny: $50-$100 for each child
  • Regular Babysitter: A tip equal to 1 night’s pay
  • Home health / Nurse: Cash is NOT appropriate.  Check company policies. A small gift or flowers is acceptable.
  • Personal Trainer: 1 session fee or a small gift.  Avoid unhealthy FOODS
  • Assistant: In addition to an end of year bonus, a cash gift or gift card of around $50, but nothing too personal.
  • Gardner: $20 -50 is acceptable
  • Newspaper Carrier: $10-$30 or the equivalent of one month subscription
  • Handyman: $15-$40 depending on the amount of work
  • Mail Carrier: The U.S. Postal Service regulations prohibit them from collecting a tip or gift worth more than $25. A small cash tip left inside a holiday card is fine.
  • Beauty Squad:  There’s no need to seek them out for a tip; just tack on an extra 5% to what you usually tip at your next appointment. You can adjust this amount based on how often you see them: if you only get your hair cut twice per year, an extra 3% is totally understandable. But if you’re an “every 4 to 6 weeks” kind of gal, you may want to ramp it up to 7% or even 10% for all the time you spend in their chair.
  • Doorman and superintendent: If you live in an apartment building or condo complex, your doorman and superintendent are the next group of people with whom you probably have the most day-to-day contact. Tipping varies wildly by region, just as rent does, so asking your neighbors (especially those who have lived in the building for a while) is a good way to start. If you’re still not sure, calculate 5% of your monthly rent and offer that as a cash tip. Homemade gifts like cookies and candy are also a nice reminder that you appreciate the work they do for your home.


  • Boss:   Just don’t, a small gist is a nice gesture, or chip in with co-workers on a restaurant gift card, etc.
  • Doctor: Cash and gift cars are prohibited; a platter of cookies or fruit for the staff is acceptable.
  • Teachers: Don’t tip your teacher (or your child’s). Just don’t. It’s inappropriate for someone who is so intimately involved with your or your child’s development and could even be seen as a bribe. Instead, opt for a small, thoughtful gift like a wall calendar or plant for the classroom. And remember to keep it secular, especially if the teacher works at a public school. If you or your child has more than one teacher, it’s completely acceptable to award only those who have had a particular impact or with which you have formed a closer connection.
  • Servers and Bartenders: There’s no need for more substantial tipping at restaurants and bars around the holidays, but of course if you feel compelled go right ahead. Instead, remember that this is a hectic time of year for any waitstaff, and make sure to let them know you appreciate their service (if it’s good, of course). A quick “thank you” or “happy holidays” after your signature will be welcome cheer when they collect your bill at the end of the night

…and remember, no matter who you’re tipping or how much, it’s the delivery that counts. Always include a personal note, especially in the event that you’re giving less than usual — or can’t afford to give it all. That way your recipient will feel appreciated regardless of the dollar amount inside. And that’s what this season is all about, right??

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