Tips on Holiday Tipping

Who should you tip and how much should you tip during the holidays? Those are questions consumers grapple with every year, and there’s no clear-cut answer. But there are guidelines, depending on the kind of worker you’re tipping.

In Consumer Reports’ previous national surveys, we found that about 6 in 10 Americans tip at least one of 14 common types of service providers. Those providers are apartment superintendents, barbers, child-care providers, school-bus drivers, teachers, fitness trainers, gardeners or lawn-care workers, hairdressers, housecleaners, mail carriers, manicurists, newspaper carriers, pet-care providers, and sanitation workers.

Who Gets the Biggest Tip?

Housecleaners were the most often tipped and the best compensated. In our most recent survey, their median tip was $50. Those in most other professions typically received a holiday tip or gift with a median value of $20. Least likely to be tipped were garbage collectors.

Slightly more than half of respondents didn’t tip at least one of the providers whose services they used, and 39 percent didn’t tip any of those on our list. Some nontippers said they reward only exceptional service, and about one-fourth said they don’t tip at any time, period.

How much should you tip? Below we provide some guidelines derived from survey results from Care.com, a staffing company, and our own research.

Tipping Guidelines to Consider

SERVICE PROVIDER HOW MUCH TO TIP
Babysitter, mother’s helper Average day/evening pay for regular sitters, plus a small gift from your kids
Barber Cost of 1 session
Bartender $20 to $40 for someone you see regularly
Day care staff $25 to $50 per staff member, plus a small gift from your kids
Dog walker, dog groomer Cost of 1 session or 1 week’s pay
Doorman $25 to $100
Hairdresser or colorist Cost of 1 session
Housekeeper or cleaner Cost of 1 session (median tip from our survey was $50)
Kids’ coach Small gift from your kids
Landscaper Cost of 1 session or $20 to $50 for infrequent service
Live-in help 1-2 weeks’ pay
Manicurist Cost of 1 session
Newspaper carrier $10 to $20
Nursing home/assisted living staff $10 to $20 per staff member (where allowed), or food gift for the group
Parking garage attendant $10 to $20 for someone you see regularly
Postal worker Non-cash gift worth $20 or less (U.S. Postal Service guideline)
Senior care aide $25 to $100, depending on frequency of care
Teacher, teacher’s assistant Small gift from your kids
Waiter/waitress $20 to $40 to someone you see regularly

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