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How much to tip your doorman, hairstylist and dog walker this holiday

Your tipping guide for 2019.
Image: A doorman opening the door to a luxury hotel foyer, 25 June 2002
If you live in a building with a doorman, aim to tip $15 to $80 each.Tanya Lake / Fairfax Media via Getty Images file

’Tis the season for holiday tipping.

As the end of the year draws near, it’s time to think about showing your gratitude to those who have provided services for you throughout the year.

It’s something that has become common practice. According to’s 2019 Cost of Holidays Survey, 80% of those polled said they give holiday tips and 54% tip at least three people.

Yet it’s not always clear if you should tip a service provider for the holidays — and if so, how much.

“The best way to gauge to whom you should give tips is to look at those individuals who have helped you throughout the year,” said etiquette expert Elaine Swann. “Individuals who helped to make your life easy, assisted you in some shape or fashion.”

The first thing is take a look at your budget, which will help determine how many people you can afford to give to, said Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute. (See guidelines below for typical tips by provider.)

“It is about prioritizing your list,” she said. “You’ve got to know what you are able to do.

“This isn’t meant to stress you out and make you feel horrible and guilty,” Post added. “It’s really meant to be an opportunity.”

If you are strapped for cash, you can do something else to express your gratitude to a service provider, such as baking cookies or knitting a scarf. Or, simply give them a card.

“If this is the year that you just cannot do it, send them a card,” Swann said. “Purchase your cards right now. Do not send a digital card.”

Then, write something inside that specifically tells them what you are thankful for instead of just signing your name.

“Sharing your heart is valuable and sometimes even more valuable than money,” she added.

(It’s also worth pointing out that some workers cannot accept cash gifts. Check company policy first. For example, U.S. Postal workers are not allowed to accept money or gift cards, only presents worth no more than $20. Nursing home employees and home health workers may not be able to accept cash, either.)

Here are some guidelines for whom to tip and how much, thanks to the etiquette experts at The Emily Post Institute.


If someone cleans your house only once or twice a month, consider tipping them about half the amount of one service. So, if you pay your cleaner $100 to come once a month, think about $50 to $100 as a holiday thank you.

  • Regular cleaner: Up to one week’s pay and/or a small gift.
  • Live-in help: Up to one week to one month of pay, plus a gift.

Child care providers

Whether you have live-in help, a regular babysitter or use day care, you should say thanks to those who care for your kids. In addition to any monetary bonus, a gift from your child is always appreciated.

  • Au pair or live-in nanny: Up to one week’s pay.
  • Regular babysitter: Up to one evening’s pay.
  • Day care provider: $25 to $70 for each staff member who works with your child.

Building staff

They take care of your building, fix problems, open doors and receive your packages. So it would be a good idea to acknowledge their hard work throughout the year.

  • Doorman: $15 to $80 each.
  • Superintendent: $20 to $80.
  • Elevator operator: $15 to $40 each.
  • Handyman: $15 to $40.

Personal trainers & massage therapists

They help you get fit, healthy and relaxed — so consider a bonus or gift to your personal trainer or regular massage therapist.

  • Up to the cost of one session.

Hairstylists and barbers

Some pros say tip up to the cost of one visit. But that makes a lot more sense for those who have regular, fairly inexpensive cuts with a barber than those who shell out several hundred dollars per visit at a salon for a cut, color and highlight. In the latter case, a tip could be somewhere in the ballpark of $10 to $60, or a gift.

  • Beauty salon staff: Up to the amount of one visit, divided among the those who work with you.
  • Barber: Up to the cost of one haircut.

Pet caretakers

Don’t forget about the people who take care of your dog and other pets while you’re at work or away from home. If you regularly see a groomer, think about tipping that pro, too.

  • Dog walker: Up to one week’s pay.
  • Groomer: Up to the cost of one session.

Garbage collectors

If your garbage is collected by your municipality, check your town or city regulations to see if cash is allowed. If not, give a gift.

  • Garbage collection crew: $10 to $30 each.

Newspaper delivery person

Digital readership may be climbing, but many people still like to have a newspaper to hold in their hands. If you have yours delivered to your home, consider a small gratuity to the person who helps you enjoy that Sunday morning paper with your coffee.

  • $10 to $30.

Disclosure: Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow. is a financial wellness and education initiative from CNBC and Acorns, the micro-investing app. NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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