Holiday Tipping Guide (+ Printables)

November 9, 2020


Some of the merchants listed in this blog pay us a commission when you make product purchases using the links we provide.

Think about all the people that make your life easier. Babysitters, teachers, building superintendents, daycare staff. Where would we be without our barbers or hairstylists? Very hairy and very unhappy.

During the holiday season, it’s important to recognize the efforts and hard work of the people around us. That circle extends beyond just friends and family. Holiday cards, Christmas carolers and seasonal sweaters alike get at the same message: the importance of giving thanks during the holidays to everyone. And service workers should be at the top of that “thank you” list.

Luckily, giving thanks doesn’t have to mean giving up on your budget and overspending. This holiday tipping guide will walk you through how to make a list of people to give holiday tips to, how to set a budget (and stick to it), how to decide the amount and type of holiday tip to give and how to give them while social distancing.

In short, this definitive holiday tipping guide will make you feel like Santa Claus on a budget. Spread the holiday joy, show your appreciation to service workers who make your life easier and save money while doing it. Starting to sound like a holiday miracle, right?

You can also jump to our holiday printables:

Tips for Deciding Who to Thank


You see this person every day, talk to them every week and they always bring things over to your house. What if we told you this person wasn’t a best friend, but your mail carrier? Do you give them something for the holidays?

When deciding who thank with a seasonal tip during the holidays, consider these six things:

  • Frequency. Think about how often you see this person, and also how often you already tip this person. If you see them weekly, then you’ll want to consider tipping them.
  • Length of employment. How long have they been working for you? If it’s less than a year, then wait until next holiday season to give them a holiday tip.
  • Relationship. What’s your relationship like with them and what service do they provide you? Understand your relationship with this person to assess whether or not you should give them a holiday tip.
  • Location. Where do you live, and what is the precedent of your city’s holiday tipping? Usually, higher tips are expected in larger cities and the opposite is true for rural areas. It’s good to know what your neighbors might be tipping.
  • Quality. Do they do a good job? You don’t have to go all “naughty or nice” list here, but assess the quality of their work and if it’s worthy of a holiday tip.
  • Acceptability. Will your tip even be able to be accepted by the person? There are some rules against who you can and can’t give money to, so bear that in mind as you make your list.

How to Set a Holiday Tipping Budget

The holidays are filled with good tidings and joy, but they’re also filled with spending and more spending. The holidays evoke our inner Mr. or Mrs. Claus and there is an urge to spread limitless joy to everyone around us, no matter how unfeasible it is. That’s why it’s important to stick to a budget. Follow these steps to make your holiday tipping budget:

  • Set a limit. First things first, set your number. While we might wish the sky was the limit for holiday tipping, bring that number down to earth by referring back to who you need to tip.
  • Develop a tracking system. It’s important to track everything when holiday tipping. Develop an easy tracking system to understand how much you’re spending. A simple way to do this is by using the list of people to tip you made above. Make a checklist and keep track of four things: how much the tip is, if you have the tip, if you’ve given the tip and when you gave the tip.
  • Make priorities. Group your list into three categories: absolutely mandatory, on the fence and maybe next year. To sort these priorities, run through the above considerations one more time — pay extra attention to how often you see this person and the service they provide for you.
  • Assess your spending. During the holidays, it’s so easy to throw in that little ornament for someone and not think twice about it. However, those things add up. To ensure you’re on track with your spending, check in with your remaining budget halfway through the holiday season and make adjustments if necessary.

Figuring Out the Correct Amount to Tip

At surface level, a holiday cash tip sounds easy enough. Pull out your wallet and give your babysitter some extra money, just like you would any regular evening. However, the truth is that holiday tipping gets difficult quickly.

There are certain lines of work that can’t accept cash or gift cards. Then, there’s the dilemma of the amount. How much should you tip your au pair compared to your personal trainer? Below, we’ve outlined a list to help you figure out what to tip during the holidays.

  • Babysitter. Tip your babysitter the amount of one night’s pay. It’s also important to have your child make a little something as a small token of their appreciation as well. You can also have your child fill out the above postcard!
  • Hairdresser. Tip up to the price of each salon visit and accompany the cash gift with a card. Because we’d all be walking around with bird’s nests as hair if it weren’t for our barbers!
  • Building superintendent. Give them a minimum of $20 and a maximum of $100 depending on the quality of work and amount of work your superintendent has done for you in particular.
  • Barista. Look to give them $10 to $20 dollars if you see them regularly. Aim for the price of a nice lunch or a week’s worth of coffee drinks.
  • Daycare staff. Either pay a $25 to $70 tip to each of the staff members who care for your child or you can give a gift certificate. You can use these fun gift certificates to spice up the generic card with cash!
  • Driver. If you have a driver who gives you rides on a daily basis, look to tip a minimum of $30 or more depending on the frequency and length of the drives.
  • Dentist. You’ll want to skip over any professional people in your life (dentists, doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc.), as helping and caring for you is in their job description and tips aren’t usually allowed in their line of work. However, be sure to write a meaningful card to express your gratitude!
  • Doctor. As with the above, you’ll want to pass on tipping your doctor. If you want to show your gratitude, send a fruit basket to the entire practice for the whole office to enjoy. (Editor’s note: If you want to send a fruit basket, you can use these coupons to save.)
  • Therapist. As with a dentist and doctor, medical staff usually can’t accept cash gifts. However, a small token of gratitude is acceptable if your therapist is an integral part of your life. Consider sending them a bedside book or writing a personal card. (Editor’s note: Looking to give your therapist a bedside book? You can save using these Book Outlet coupons.)
  • Dog walker or pet carer. If you have a committed dog walker who cares for your pet every week, then you should give them a tip. Look to give them anything in the range of $20 to $75. However, if you only hire a dog walker on certain occasions, you shouldn’t feel the need to tip them.
  • Doorman. Tip anywhere between $30 and $150. If you have more than one doorman, the lower range of that scale for each is suitable. Also, consider the type of building you live in. If it’s a luxury apartment tip more towards the higher end of that scale.
  • Dry cleaner. If you get your dry cleaning serviced weekly, look to tip the worker in the range of $10 to $20 depending on quality.
  • Food delivery person. If your delivery person knows your name and order, that’s a good sign you should tip them. Look to tip the delivery person enough for a meal at an average priced restaurant.
  • Live-in help. For service workers who live in your house like a housekeeper, senior care aid, chef or au pair, look to tip two week’s pay. You’ll also want to include a personal card to express your appreciation for the year-round work they do for your family.
  • Landscaper. Tip anywhere from $20 to $50 depending on the size of your yard or garden and how often the landscaper comes. This is also a situation to assess quality. Does your lawn look well-kept? Then, leave a more generous tip.
  • Nail salon workers. If you go to the nail salon once a week, aim to tip your salonist the cost of one session. However, if you’re only in the nail salon once a month, don’t feel the need to tip.
  • Nursing home staff. If a loved one is in a nursing home, it’s important to show your gratitude by tipping all of the staff that care for that person. Steer away from giving cash as that’s usually not accepted based on company policy. Instead, look to get a gift the whole staff can enjoy. Some good items might include a food platter, playing cards or a set of candles.
  • Personal assistant. Give your personal assistant a modest gift plus a bonus for the holiday season based on their performance. Some suitable gift ideas would be a new planner or agenda, a journal, a bedside book or a desk plant. (Editor’s note: If you’re looking to get your personal assistant some stationery gifts, save by using these Paper Source coupons!)
  • Personal trainer. Tip them up to one session’s pay or more depending on whether or not they come to your house and how often you see them. You can also give them a gift in the same price ballpark (one session’s pay) if you know what they might like.
  • Postal worker. The United States Postal Service has pretty rigid gift regulations. Cash tipping isn’t allowed, so consider a small gift like a fun pair of socks or a water thermal. A little will go a long way here, but be sure to read through the gift regulations before giving!
  • Pool cleaner. If your pool is still used during the colder months and a cleaner comes weekly, tip them up to the price of one cleaning.
  • Tailor. You don’t have to tip your tailor as this person is someone you don’t see on a regular basis.
  • Teacher. Recognize a teacher’s dedication to your child’s development by giving them a modest gift like a book or gift card. Cash tips aren’t allowed for salaried professionals.
  • Tutor. Tip your tutor the cost of a single session and have your child write a personal card. Have some fun with the academic puns like this one: Thank you for tutoring math, because it’s the only subject that counts!
  • Waiter/waitress. You’ll want to assess how often you visit this restaurant before deciding what to tip and if you should tip. If you go there twice a week, then a $20 to $40 tip for your favorite waiter or waitress is suitable.

Of course, there are going to be people you want to tip that aren’t on this list. For those cases, follow this general rule of thumb: tip them the average amount of the service they offer. For example, if you want to tip the handyman because there was a lot of work done on your house this year, pay them the amount of one appointment.

How to Give Holiday Tips While Socially Distant


Now it’s time for the fun part — the tip giving! Studies have shown that gift-giving results in longer happiness than gift receiving. However, this year the gift-giving may look a little different. Here are some ways to spread joy without spreading germs!

  • Schedule an outdoor exchange. If your schedule is flexible enough, find an open outdoor space to give tips.
  • Leave it at your front door. For delivery personnel or service workers who frequent your house, you can easily leave the gift at the door for them to take without entering. If you know this person’s address, you can also leave it at their front door for them to take. You can use these festive thank you envelopes to make it special!
  • Send it in the mail. Do the old fashioned thing and send it through the mail. Imagine the smile on their face when they’re sorting through miscellaneous bills and find a holiday thank you tip!
  • Give the tip virtually. There are a ton of mobile payment apps like Venmo where you can easily send money to a friend or service worker you are tipping. While it’s not as sentimental as a physical gift, it’s easy!

Ways to Save on Holiday Tips

Holiday shopping is notably the least enjoyable part of the festive season, and for good reasons. The busyness of the stores, the pressure of getting the perfect thing for the perfect person and having to calculate your budget is exhausting and will leave you feeling like a Grinch. Here are some tips on how to cut your holiday costs and save on holiday tipping:

  • Sell unwanted things if you have to. If you’ve set a strict budget and have a long list of absolutely mandatorys, you’ll have to find some creative ways to afford holiday tipping. Sell unwanted clothing, swap books or re-gift old things! (Editor’s note: Looking to sell old clothing to get some spending money for the holidays? Check out how to make money from old clothing.)
  • Use the cash-only method. Most of the tipping will be done in cash, but for some scenarios like your mail carrier who can’t accept a cash tip, you’ll want to give a different token of gratitude such as a small gift. Make sure to use cash when purchasing this as using a credit card can lead to overspending!
  • Get the same thing for different people. Cash will be the top thing you give when tipping for the holidays. Gift cards will be a close runner up, but for everything else buy the same small gift. Whether it be candles, bedside books, socks, hats or a food plate, buy it in bulk and give to the people who can’t accept cash or gift cards.
  • Make a personal card. If you don’t have the resources to give a service worker cash or a small gift, still show your gratitude by taking the time to make a personal card. Explain exactly the service this person does for you and how valuable they are in your life. Sometimes, a simple, but genuine card is all you need to say thank you.

A little goes a long way for holiday tipping. It’s the small gestures like modest gifts or thoughtful cards that inspire service workers to do the very best job they can. If you’re looking for more ideas on what small gift to tip, you can browse these coupons to save.

And paying that extra thanks doesn’t have to mean paying a ton extra. Following the guide above and using coupons will allow you to feel good spending money on the people who help you without feeling overwhelmed or stressed by the spending!

Sources: Aol | USPS Gift Guide

We hope that you found this blog helpful. Our content is not intended to provide tax or financial advice. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional. Capital One Shopping does not endorse or guarantee any information or recommendation listed above.