Holiday Tipping: How Much Should You Tip?

One question that often comes up during this time of year is how much to tip. You’ve likely developed special relationships with your doorman, hair stylist, or someone else who has provided a service to you throughout the year. You want to show your appreciation for their help, but what dollar amount is appropriate?

Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman says it’s important to take into account the frequency of the service, how much personal attention you receive, and your personal budget when deciding how much to tip. In addition, Gottsman says all tips and gifts should come with a card or note.

Gottsman offers her advice for who to tip and how much:

  • Hair Stylist, Manicurist, Personal Trainer, and Massage Therapist: A cash gift equivalent to one visit, or a gift.
  • Housekeeper: A cash gift equivalent to one day’s pay.
  • Pool Cleaner and lawn maintenance: A cash gift equivalent to one week’s service.
  • Babysitter: A cash gift equivalent to one night’s pay or a gift card.

  • Nanny : One week’s pay and a handmade gift from your child.

  • Boss: It’s not necessary to give your boss a large or expensive gift. Consider an office gift “pool” or bring a tray of holiday goodies for the office.
  • Children’s Teacher: Contribute to a class gift or give your child’s teacher and teacher’s aide a small gift.
  • UPS: Mark Dickens, UPS Public Relations Representative says, “While our service providers appreciate the gratitude of their customers, we ask them to politely decline any material expressions, particularly of a financial nature.”
  • FedEx: Gifts and tips are not restricted, but the amount should not exceed $75.
  • USPS: No cash is accepted. According to the USPS Ethics Council, “Letter Carriers are prohibited from accepting cash or a cash equivalent such as a Visa or Master Card gift card from Postal Service customers. You may give a gift to a Letter Carrier valued at $20.00 or less or a gift card to a specific retail venue valued at $20.00 or less, as long as the aggregate value of gifts that you gave to the Letter Carrier do not exceed $50.00 in a calendar year. See 5 C.F.R. § 2635.204.” For more information call the USPS Law Dept. Ethics Help Line at 202-268-6346 or send an email to

For more, see The Do’s and Don’ts of Regifting Holiday Presents.

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert, speaker, author and owner of The Protocol School of Texas.