The winter holidays are here — and with them come the perennial questions of the season for city dwellers: Who do you tip, how do you tip, and what do you tip?
It’s confusing enough in a traditional year. Read on for our tips on building out your to-tip list and showing appreciation in this exceptionally challenging one.
“Holiday tipping is truly about saying thank you,” advises the etiquette experts at EmilyPost, and Corcoran agent Julia Boland agrees: “For me, it is a thank you for the year of service. I will tip my super for each of the jobs he does inside of my apartment during the year, but my holiday tip is for thanking him for the running of the building outside of my apartment.”
Who to Tip
Make a list of the people you see every day or every week without whom your life wouldn’t run as smoothly: Doorman, building super, dog walker, house cleaner. They all should be thanked personally and tipped according to the list below.
Now think about the secondary people who help out in the background: Does your building have a night doorman or a porter? Do you have a babysitter that often saves the day? You should remember these service providers at the holidays, too. Boland suggests including a personal note to each person, thanking them for their special service and letting them know why you appreciate them.
Last but not least, consider any neighborhood shops, restaurants, or delivery services you’ve regularly relied on, i.e. that corner wine shop that door-dropped as you quarantined. Small businesses are struggling, and with many pooling their tips to be divvied up among all employees, it’s an easy gesture of gratitude to be a little extra-generous this time of year. (Most places using Toast or Shopify offer this option digitally).
How to Tip
When it comes to the form of the tip, an envelope of cash works best if you’re handing out gifts directly, even if it’s the least ideal currency of 2020. But if building management is collecting gifts for workers you won’t see, or you’re avoiding touching an ATM screen and the well-handled bills they dispense, checks may be your best choice—that way you can ensure that the correct person receives your gift.
Payment apps like Venmo haven’t quite caught on for the ritual, and although they’re the most contactless option to get the job done, it’s a touch awkward to ask for a staffer’s cell number unless they’re already in your contacts. Reserve this option for those forward enough to volunteer it.
If you’re in a full-service building, you’ll also likely get a cheat sheet in the form of the obligatory staff holiday card slipped under your door. These friendly reminders typically list out names and roles for the full cast of characters behind the scenes, helping you budget accordingly. Progressive co-op boards or property managers might consider adding Venmo handles this year to help ensure their essential workers receive all the thanks they deserve.
What to Tip
How much to give? Here are some recommendations, based on annual research done by Brick Underground:
- Super, resident manager: $75 to $175 on average.
- Doorman and/or concierge : $25 to $150 on average.
- Porter, handyman and maintenance staff: $20 to $30 on average.
- Garage attendant: $25 to $75 on average.
- Cleaning person/housekeeper: One to two weeks of pay
- Cleaning service: Tip 15 to 20 percent throughout the year; if the same crew cleans your apartment each time, a holiday tip (one week’s pay) is appreciated.
- Full-time nanny: One week’s pay minimum, two if you can afford it, or one week’s pay and one week of vacation.
- Regular babysitter hired occasionally: Consider $25 to $50 in cash or a gift card.
- Regular dog walker: One week’s pay.