Tipping service providers during the holidays: Best practices for showing your appreciation

Jason Van Steenwyk
Jason Van Steenwyk | 3 min. read

Published on November 28, 2017

Proprietors once discouraged tips at their restaurants because they were associated with a payment to the server for extra food or drink—which would go into the server’s pocket, while the proprietor would be out the cost of the food! When alcohol was made illegal during Prohibition in 1919, however, proprietors lost a major source of over-the-table revenue. Because proprietors couldn’t stop servers from accepting tips (lest they be turned in to the government for illegal alcohol sales by disgruntled employees), tipping was here to stay.

Today, the customary 15 percent tip for decent service in restaurants is well understood; but the practice of tipping has expanded well beyond restaurants—especially during the holidays.

The Emily Post Institute, a leading source on business customs and social etiquette, writes: “Holiday tipping is really holiday thanking.”

How can you show your appreciation to your service providers during the coming season? Read our holiday tipping guide to find out.

Holiday Tipping Guide for Service Providers

  • When it comes to service providers, tipping is still optional. Don’t feel pressured to give cash tips that you can’t afford. A small handmade gift or baked item is still perfectly acceptable.
  • If you are providing a gift to someone who’s provided service for you all year long, consider adding short note of appreciation.
  • The amount is entirely up to you. In the personal service category, Emily Post recommends a tip of up to one week’s pay for an au pair or live-in housekeeper, plus a gift; and a tip of up to the cost of one session, plus a gift, for personal trainers, massage therapists, and other service industry professionals that you see regularly.

How Much to Tip Building Staff

If you’re a resident, consider a small token of appreciation for the hardworking building staff who have been serving you all year long. According to Brick Underground, while only a minority of residents tip building staff, it does happen regularly. Owners typically tip more generously than renters.

  • Doorman or concierge: $25 to $150 on average (broad range: $10 to $1,000)
  • Garage attendant: $25 to $75 on average (broad range: $15 to $100)
  • Handymen or maintenance staff: $20 to $30 on average (broad range: $10 to $75)
  • Super or resident manager: $75 to $175 on average (broad range: $50 to $500)

How Much to Tip Vendors

For B2B services, Emily Post has the following suggestions:

  • Garage attendant: A small gift or cash between $10 and $30, if you see the attendant regularly
  • Mail carriers and package deliverers: A small gift—no cash. Mail carriers may not accept gifts that are clearly more than $20 in value, and may not accept cash, checks, or gift cards.
  • Newspaper deliverer: $10 to $30 or a small gift
  • Pool cleaner: A gift up to the value of one pool cleaning, to be split among the crew
  • Trash/recycling collectors: A small gift, cash or card, between $10 and $30
  • Yard workers and landscapers: A small gift in the $20 to $50 range

Read it on the #BuildiumBlog: Your guide to tipping your service providers this holiday season. Share on X

What do you do for your service providers during the holidays? What’s the nicest gift you’ve ever gotten for your work? Let us know in the comments!

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Jason Van Steenwyk

Jason is a freelance writer and editor, as well as an avid fiddler. His articles have been published in a number of real estate publications including Wealth and Retirement Planner and Bankrate.com. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his cat, Sasha, and an unknown number of musical instruments.

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