Christmas Tipping – Christmas Tip for Who and How Much?


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Christmas tipping during the holidays has been around for a very long time. Giving a Christmas tip to doormen, hairdresser/barber, mailman/mail carrier, garbage men/trash collector, waitress or waiter etc as a way of “paying it forward” during the Christmas season is admirable.

We’ve been hearing the term “spreading the wealth” around quite a bit lately, especially during the presidential campaign. To tip or not to tip, how much to tip and who should be on our Christmas tipping list is on the minds of many.

With the current economic situation we’re in right now, with so many people losing their jobs and worrying if they will have the money to buy Christmas gifts for their own children and family (or whether they will be able to pay their mortgage or rent), I’d hate to think that people are feeling undue pressure to participate in Christmas tipping too.

Tipping at Christmas is certainly a kind gesture for those who can afford to tip those who provide us services of one kind or another. According to recent news reports, the list of who should get a Christmas tip has grown to include personal trainers, dog walkers, and the newspaper delivery person too. Personally, I think the Christmas tipping tradition has gotten out of hand.

Christmas Tipping


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Christmas tipping, which has its own Tipping Etiquette guidelines, is discretionary. If you plan on tipping for Christmas but aren’t quite sure of how much to tip or who to tip, there are a few things to consider. Keep in mind, who to tip and who not to tip at Christmas is entirely up to you, and not everyone who provides services are equally deserving a tip or the same “customary” amount.

If you are one of many who feels that tipping at Christmas is stupid and unnecessary, then by all means don’t tip. I am not someone who believes there is a moral obligation to give Christmas tips, so don’t email me ranting about tipping because I won’t respond. For those of you wishing or planning on tipping, here are some tipping guidelines to consider.

Christmas Tip – For Who and How Much?

Babysitter: One evening’s pay, plus a small gift from your child.
Barber: Cost of one haircut, and/or gift.
Beauty salon/hairstylist: $10 to $60 each, giving most to those who provide the most service.
Child’s teacher: Give a gift, not cash. Consider a Gift Certificate; fruit basket or picture frame.
Daycare Services: $25-70, plus a small gift from your child.
Dog walker: One week’s pay and/or a gift.
Doormen/Concierge: $10 to $80 each, with a bigger tip for the doormen who serves you more.
Garage attendants and newspaper deliverer: $10 to $30 each.
Housekeeper: One day’s pay.
Mail carrier: Gifts up to $20 each, but no cash. *See the rules below for giving Christmas tips to USPS workers below. Only tip your regular mail carrier that you know and see regularly.
Nanny/Au pair: One week’s to one month’s salary based on tenure, plus a small gift from your child.
Personal trainer – $60-100 upon reaching goal.
Super: $25 to $100.
Doorman: $10 to $80.
Handyman: $15 to $40.
Trash collector: $10 to $30 each (for private service); for municipal service, check local regulations.

Christmas Tipping Mail Carriers

According to USPS, the rules and regulations about Christmas tipping mail carriers are as follows:

While many Postal Service™ customers have traditionally thanked their mail carrier with gifts of cash during the holiday season, this practice puts our employees at risk of violating federal law.  The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (Standards), specifies that Postal Service employees may not accept gifts from outside sources (including Postal Service customers) or gifts given to them because of their official positions. Postal Service employees are also prohibited from soliciting gifts from outside sources.

There are a number of exceptions and exclusions to the general gifts rule. Postal Service employees may accept the following items:

  • Snacks and beverages that are not offered as part of a meal.
  • Items with little intrinsic value (i.e., greeting cards, plaques, pens, coffee mugs, etc.).
  • Perishable items (i.e., flowers, chocolates, cookies, etc.); if the items are clearly worth more than $20, employees should share them with others in the Postal Service workplace.
  • Items with a market (retail) value of $20 or less.
  • Gifts motivated solely because of a personal relationship.
  • Gifts for which the employee has paid market (retail) value.
  • Gifts paid for by the Postal Service.

Postal Service employees may not accept cash  – in any amount or form (bills, checks, money orders) – from an outside source. For further information, please contact the U.S. Postal Service® Law Department’s Ethics Helpline at 202-268-6346


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Some people feel that Christmas tipping is just stupid, because these workers are already being paid a salary to do their jobs. And don’t tell me how people with minimum wage jobs are desperate and in need of any possible Christmas tips they may receive this year. I personally have a few on this list that I regularly tip for Christmas and I will continue to do so.

I also give donations to charities at Christmas and throughout the year, but Christmas tipping should never be presented as a requirement or a “moral obligation” for anyone. If you can tip at Christmas, by all means do so. If you are not able to give a Christmas tip of some kind or donate toys or Christmas gifts to charity, don’t beat yourself up about it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

[Originally Published December 2008]

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11 Responses to “Christmas Tipping – Christmas Tip for Who and How Much?”

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  1. I’ve never been consistent with this. We’ve given a Christmas gift (I guess I’ve never considered it tipping) to the people who deliver the paper and the mail and who picks up the trash. Pretty hit and miss though, I’d say maybe only a few years out of the last 10 or 15.

  2. Lin says:

    John, what surprises me most is that some people actually believe that Christmas tipping is a “moral obligation”. As if it’s something required; an obligation gift. No way. Tipping at Christmas or any other time of year is a gracious gift to someone else.

  3. Thanks Lin, I’ve been wondering what an appropriate amount is.

  4. wilson says:

    Honestly, Lin. As a high school teacher, I started to receive some fruit baskets and nice homemade chocolate chip cake from the parents since last week…

    You’re right about it, Lin. We should spreading the wealth to others, especially the unfortunate, as they need it the most!

  5. Lin says:

    Hi Shayne, I’m glad to help provide this information, as Xmas tipping is very common and people need to know how much to give and who should be on the receiving end. Or not.

  6. Lin says:

    Wilson, when my kids were in school, they would each give their school teacher a small xmas gift of some kind. What I appreciated most was the fact that it was a thoughtful gift they each came up with on their own, and I not once ever had to suggest or tell them to do it. They just wanted to.

  7. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Lin – this is a great list. We don’t generally tip as much in the uk as over in the usa, although some of us tip more than others.

    If you were using all the services you listed a month, I guess your Christmas tips would cost a hefty amount.

    I’m quite skint this year, but I need my hair cut next week (haven’t had it done for 5months!) so I guess I’ll tip the hairdresser. And I may also tip the trash collection guys.

    At least now that I’m not employing folk, I don’t have to fork out hefty Christmas bonuses – which is a big plus. I found the more I gave, the more folk expected. One year I gave huge bonuses, because I’d had a good year.

    Trouble is the following year, I couldn’t afford to do that so I gave somewhere around £200 and one member of staff was really rude to me, because he didn’t get what he was expecting. It’s tough to please everyone.

  8. Lin says:

    Hi Cath, with all the various people providing services to us all, the xmas budget could definitely take a big hit if we were to tip them all.

    Christmas bonuses are always nice to receive from employers, but with the way the economy is going right now and not looking like it’s going to improve very quickly, many employers may not be in a position to give bonuses at all this year. It’s much better to go into the holiday season without any preconceived expectations of receiving tips or bonuses of any kind.

  9. Krista says:

    Hi, I was wondering… the last three years we’ve tipped a lady who comes twice a month to clean at Christmas time. I have always given her one full days pay- we really can’t this year- do you think it is a bad idea to give her a tip even if it is going to be 1/3 of what we have given in the past three yrs? I want to give her something….

  10. Lin says:

    Hi Krista, whatever you are able to give as a Christmas tip is never a bad idea. Even though the tip may be less than previous years, receiving a Christmas tip or bonus of some amount that won’t put you in a financial bind is still a tip that will be appreciated. If you are able to or want to, after the holidays are over and finances are improved, you could always give a her another tip or small gift of some kind as a “just because” gift or token of your appreciation of all her work. Just don’t guilt yourself into tipping more than you are able to give. Merry Christmas!

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