Etiquette Expert Sharon Schweitzer shares her holiday tipping guide: Who to tip & how much


The holiday season is all about giving. Most of us like to give a little extra to those around us who help in our day-to-day lives as a sentiment of appreciation.

Sometimes it can be stressful trying to figure out exactly who to tip and how much, or what to gift if tipping isn’t appropriate.

International Etiquette Expert Sharon Schweitzer shares her simple checklist for tipping and gifting this holiday season.

Business (check corporate policy):
  • Clients: Business gift baskets of chocolate, edible fruit, nuts, cheese, wine, cookies, petite fours; golf balls & non-logo gifts.
  • CEO/Boss: Group gift to their favorite charity or non-profit foundation
  • Assistant: Bonus or gift based on relationship length
  • Colleagues: gift they will like for sports, hobby, or dining, gift card.
  • Office Gift Exchange: don’t go rogue, follow the spending guidelines.
Education & Schools (follow policy):
  • Professor: greeting card, no gift
  • Teacher: Consider a group gift with parents pooled funds
  • Assistant /Aide: $25 – $50 gift certificate
  • Multiple Teachers: small gift, candle, baked goods, gift certificate.
  • Principle: Holiday card & baked goods
  • School Secretary: café gift card, small gift or gift certificate
  • School Nurse: café gift card, small gift or gift certificate
Home or Building Personnel:
  •  Live-in help (cook or butler): between a week-month’s pay, plus a gift
  • Housekeeper: if they come once a week: equivalent of a day’s pay, or $50. If they come      daily: equivalent of a week’s pay, and possibly a gift
  • Gardener: equivalent of a week’s service
  • Landscaping crew: equivalent of a week’s service, divided among the crew
  • Pool cleaning crew: equivalent of one session, divided among the crew.
  • Garage attendant: between $15 and $40 or give a small gift
  • Garbage/recycling: if city permits, $10-$30 each for extra holiday effort
  • Doorman: between $50 – $100 each, or gift, depending on extra duties
  • Elevator Operator and Handyman: between $20 – $50 each
  • Newspaper delivery: between $10 – $35, or give a small gift
Healthcare providers:
  • Private health care nurse: week’s pay or a gift of similar value
  • Home health employee: follow policy / generous gift basket of holiday treats
  • Nursing home staff: follow policy / gift basket of holiday treats for all
Personal grooming:
  • Hairstylist, manicure, pedicure, specialist: equivalent of a visit
  • Barber: haircut & shave equivalent or give a gift
  • Massage therapist/personal trainer: session equivalent or give a gift
Pet care:
  • Groomer: equivalent of one session or give a gift
  • Walker: week’s pay equivalent or “1-2 visits” per
  • Sitter: a week’s pay and a paw print note from your pet
Package & Mail Delivery:
  • The United States Postal Service provides the public with a tipping and gift receiving policy on their website, FedEx and UPS do not. The information provided for FedEx and UPS is from customer service representatives who preferred not to give their names.
 United States Postal Service:
  • Employees may accept baked goods (homemade/store bought) items to share with the branch office. Customers may give edible arrangements, gift cards for merchandise or services valued up to $20 per interaction. Gifts cannot exceed $50 per calendar year.
  • ¾  Gifting cash, VISA, MasterCard, or gift cards that may be used as cash are prohibited per USPS Employee Tipping and Gift Receiving Policy.
  • Company policies discourage gift cash or gift cards. The driver will politely decline the holiday gratuity. If the customer is insistent, the driver may ultimately accept the gift.
  • UPS does not have a limit; tipping is left to customer’s discretion.
Avoid giving holiday tips to people on this list; send holiday e-cards instead:
  • Accountant/CPA
  • Attorney
  • Auditor
  • Banker
  • Bookkeeper
  • Dentist
  • Doctor
  • Executive Coach
  • Members, Board of Directors or Trustees
  • Seamstress/ Tailor
  • Veterinarian

For more advice on tipping and gifting or to print a version of this checklist,  visit Schweitzer’s website here.