It’s holiday tipping season, that time of year when wise women come bearing gifts for their hairdressers, baby sitters, housekeepers, personal trainers, building supers, doormen and delivery people. It’s a way to show your appreciation to those people who helped you out all year long. And, although cookies and candy are nice, the one-size-fits-all tip that everyone appreciates is cash.
How much should you tip? That’s the perennial puzzler. If you want to be regarded as Santa and not Scrooge, here are some guidelines to follow from Nancy Dunnan (aka Cash Flo), who is also a co-author of “The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette” (Doubleday).
Keep in mind that these dollar amounts are merely suggestions. The larger your city and the more posh your address, the more generous you may wish to be.
• At holiday time, you should tip both the service people you don’t regularly tip as well as those you do. With people you tip all year round, the dollar amount can be less.
• If you run your office from home, you’ll need to tip your delivery person, doorman and maintenance staff a bit more than your neighbors do.
Through a combination of compound interest and cost cutting, high-income workers can retire by investing 25% of their annual incomes instead of spending it. Financial independence should take about seven years, says Vicki Robin, head of the Seattle-based New Road Map Foundation and coauthor, with Joe Dominguez, of “Your Money or Your Life.”
• Use crisp new bills. Write a personal note thanking the person and enclose it with the cash in an envelope. Try to deliver each tip in person.
• Give only what you can afford. Cash Flo doesn’t want you to go into debt to tip people.
• If you’re on a tight budget, a smaller dollar amount is perfectly fine; but consider including a little present of home-baked cookies, brownies, muffins or something else you do well — a scarf if you knit, for example.
• Don’t give a tip that can be misconstrued as a bribe. For those people it’s considered inappropriate to tip — your child’s teacher, your stockbroker or your mail carrier — write a personalized thank-you note and include a gift such as a bottle of wine, a book, a basket of fruit, an assortment of cheese and crackers.
• Finally, if cash seems a little crass for someone on your list, you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate.
A-to-Z Tipping Guide
Baby sitter: Two to three nights’ pay; more if you use your sitter on a regular basis.
Building handyman: $10 to $20; more if he/she assists you on a regular basis.
Building superintendent: $20 to $75, depending upon where you live. If you are renovating or running a business from your apartment, it might be as much as $100.
Cleaning person: One week’s salary for the first year; two weeks’ worth or more for longer service.
Delivery person (dry cleaner, florist, take-out food): $5 to $10 if this person delivers regularly throughout the year.
Dog walker or pet sitter: One day’s pay.
Doorman: $15 to $100; base it on length of service and how many visitors or packages you receive.
Garage attendant: $20 to $25 if you get your car out only occasionally; more if you take your car in and out on a regular basis.
Gardener or snow shoveler: $10 per person if it’s a crew; more to the boss.
Hairstylist: The cost of your typical appointment; somewhat more if you’re a regular customer.
Manicurist: $15 to $25.
Nanny or au pair: One week’s salary for the first year of work; slightly more thereafter.
Newspaper carrier: $5 to $20.
Personal trainer or masseuse: The cost of one session; slightly more if the person comes to your office or house.
Private package service: $10 or more to the regular UPS or Federal Express delivery person.
Secretary or personal assistant: If you’re running your own business, one week’s salary for the first year’s work; more thereafter.
If you work for a company as an employee, give a non-cash present such as a scarf, book, plant or bottle of wine. If you are a principal of a firm, you can give a combination of cash and a present.
Shampoo person: $5 to $15.
Shoe-shine person: $5 to $15.
Waiter or maitre d’: $10 to $25 if you frequently dine at the restaurant.