Guerrilla Guide to the Holidays: Tipping Your and Your Child's Helpers

Guerrilla Guide to the Holidays: Tipping Your and Your Child's Helpers

With our Guerrilla Guide to the Holidays, you're already in pretty good shape—and the month has only just begun. Use our guide this week to make sure you recognize all the service people in your (and your child's) life.

As you know, a mom could never handle it all without the help of so many, well, helpers in her life.

There are the people who save your sanity by watching your kid when you need a break. The people who make sure your dog gets to take a walk every afternoon. And the people who keep your home shipshape, whether through cleaning the inside, doing the yard work outside or keeping your appliances humming smoothly.

So, at the end of the year, it's important to recognize them all with a little gift, or a tip, or both. But which do you give, and how much?

After all, you don't want to blow your budget on your end-of-year tips. That, ironically, would make it hard for you to hire these helpers for the services next year. On the other hand, you don't want to slight these people who make your life just that much easier. You might think it's easy enough to casually keep track of how much to tip each person, but that type of mental accounting can actually be bad for your budget.

So, we've come up with an end-of-year tipping chart below, but before we dive into the details, let's keep in mind a few guidelines:

  • First, just as at any time of year, you should stick to your budget. If you find yourself going over your limit, come up with creative ways to say thanks, including baking or otherwise making your gift. (However, it's best to reserve homemade gifts for the people who provide less essential or less frequent services.)
  • If you tip this service person every time you see him or her (i.e. a cleaning person or occasional babysitter), it's not necessary to give a full tip at the end of the year.
  • There's no need to give an end-of-year tip to any service person whose services you use less than once a month, such as a handyman or a hairdresser.

If you employ a nanny or another service person whose work in your life is indispensable, you can give a tip right after Thanksgiving or early in December so that this person can use the money for their own holiday gifts. Then, at the end of the year, follow it up with a small gift.

Not Sure How to Reign In Spending?

Try out our Take Control Bootcamp ... it'll help you leave more room for tipping!

As for other people you employ to help you with your child, if your child is old enough to have a meaningful relationship with that person (say, five or older), then get him or her in on the gift too. Come up with creative ideas for gifts that you child can make or "buy" for this caretaker or teacher.

Who to Tip and How Much

The chart below contains recommendations, not requirements. If you live in a large city, err on the higher side of the ranges provided below. And, keeping in mind the advice above, let your individual circumstances and the relationship you have with each person be your ultimate guide. If you’re still unsure and the service worker is employed by a larger establishment, call the employer and ask what the company deems acceptable and what other customers typically do.

Lastly, no matter what you do, always accompany each tip or gift with a handwritten note (two or three sentences is fine) expressing your appreciation for that person’s help throughout the year. 

Profession Tip
Nanny A tip of one week's pay, plus a small gift from your child/children if they are five or older. For instance, if your child likes to bake, he or she could make cookies and give them along with the recipe. Let your child help come up with the idea for the gift and create or select it.
Daycare provider For each staff member, a tip of $25-$70 or a gift of that value
Regular babysitter A tip of one evening's pay, plus a gift from your child/children if they are five years or older. (See the guidelines under "nanny" above.)
Teacher(s) A small gift with a card from you
Housekeeper/Cleaner A tip of one week's pay or less, or a gift
Beauty salon staff Individual tips (or cards and gifts) for each person who works on you, all totaling the amount of one salon visit. (It's not necessary to tip the salon owner.)
Mail carrier Small gift whose value does not exceed $20 (postal workers are prohibited from receiving any amount of cash and gifts whose value is greater than $20)
Superintendent A tip of $20-$80, or a gift
Handyman A tip of $15-$40, or a gift
Doorman A tip of $15-$80 (if multiple doormen, $15 or more), or a gift. Because the range of $15 to $80 is so large, you should find out what is typical in the building. If you're new, ask longer-time residents for guidance.
Garage attendant A tip of $10-$30, or a small gift
Newspaper delivery person A tip of $10-$30, or a small gift
Dog walker A tip of one week's pay or less, or a gift
Yard/garden worker A tip of $20-$50 for each, or a small gift
Personal trainer/ Massage therapist A tip of one session's cost or less, or a gift


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