Dear PoPville – Tipping on the Holidays

Photo by PoPville flickr user elliotmitchell

Dear PoPville,

I own a studio apartment. How much is standard for tipping the staff for the holidays? There are two full time and one part time staff. I was thinking $60 for the full and $40 for part time.

We haven’t had too much luck talking tipping in the forum section so I wanted to ask it here. I’m curious as well. Not only for building staff – but who else do you tip? Do you tip the garbage men? The mailman? House cleaners? Lawn care? Others?

For those that tip on the holidays – who do you tip and how much do you give?

32 Comment

  • -Barber: $20 (the cost of the haircut)
    -House cleaner: $200
    -Garbage collector: zero. If they consistently picked up the trash and returned my can, I might reconsider
    -Newspaper deliverer: zero. Only my window bars prevent it from entering my house like a missile. Except when it’s in the bushes.

    • Do you tip your barber every time you get a haircut? I thought holiday tips were only for people you dont normally tip? I would like to leave something for my mailcarrier, but I have one of those small reach in mailboxes, so nothing would really fit there.

      • I tip my hairdresser every time I get a haircut, so I tip extra (usually double) during the holidays. I don’t think there’s a standard, but it just seems nice.

      • austindc

        It’s nice to tip your mail carrier, but remember that in cities, your mail carrier may be a different person from day to day. USPS has to sometimes move people around depending on demand. It really is an amazing system!

      • I do tip him every time. The cut is $22, and at the holidays I give him a twenty, which is basically the amount of the cut. I don’t know whether or not etiquette is to tip only people you don’t usually tip. That’s just my practice. Barber and house cleaner have a personal component to the business relationship, so I tip to say thank you and to let them know I appreciate them.

  • We tip the housekeeper the equivalent of a day’s pay.

  • I’m pretty sure your letter carrier is forbidden from accepting money.

    • As a kid we always left a gift in the mailbox for the letter carrier. Cookies, a gift card, something like that. When we were little he would answer our Christmas letters with a letter from Santa. It was pretty cool because he knew us so “Santa” responded like he knew us. It helped the believing last a little bit longer. Freaked my parents out a bit the first time it happened till they realized it was the mail man.

    • ah

      Same for DC garbage collectors–and any government employee. No cash (or “cash equivalent”). Non-cash gifts under $20 are okay.

  • We tip the newspaper person $20 and the house cleaner $100 (equivalent of what we pay her to clean the house). And the babysitter an extra week’s pay.

  • Our condo association gave the woman who cleans our building $200 this year. For the person who cleans my place I gave her the equivalent of an extra cleaning.

    And don’t forget to be better to your bartenders/servers this time of year!

  • I gave my housekeepers the same amount I pay for a visit – $100.

    However, I give it in nickels, and scatter them all over the floors, to ensure it is earned.

    Not really. I give it in $20 bills.

  • Allison

    As a student I didn’t have a whole bunch of money to tip all of the full time staff in the building, so I baked them a huge pastry basket with muffins, pumpkin bread, cranberry bread, and cookies. It may not help them buy their kids gifts for Christmas, but at least it lets them know they’re appreciated.

    • I do the same. We don’t have any extra cash so we bake a big basket of goodies for our mail carrier, neighbors, doctors, ect. Like you said, it won’t help them financially but it lets them know we appreciate what they do.

  • Cleaning people – an extra payment

    I think that is the only people I am leaving a “gift” for.

  • I don’t plan on tipping anyone. I have a rowhouse and I don’t hire anyone to take care of it. I’m always at work when the trash collectors and mailmen stop by so I wouldn’t be able to give them a tip.

  • Most people in DC don’t deserve a tip:

    Newspaper guy- throws them to the neighbors or into my plants

    Trash guy- I wave to them and am friendly, but half the time my trash isn’t collected or my bin is upside down in the street

    Postman- our usual postman left and now we have a new one every week and we don’t get our mail delivered properly and its never inside the box–usually on the floor or hanging out getting wet in the rain

    FEDEX/UPS- Not after they just toss packages. To be fair the fedex (EXPRESS) driver usually slides my overnight letters behind my security bars so it doesnt get wet or stolen. Maybe I should give him something.

    In California I would give the newspaper guy, UPS, Fedex, mailman, and trash guys a check for 20-25.

  • Maybe I am just old and cranky in spirit, but unless I know that their pay structure specifically assumes that tips are expected (such as servers and bartenders) I don’t tip anyone. Believe me, I appreciate the work that they do but I don’t have any more of a relationship with my mailman or the trash collectors than I do with the cashier at the 7-11, the bus drivers on my daily commute or the sandwich maker at the deli where I get my lunch 2-3 times a week.

    I could see maybe tipping a house cleaner but that’s a much more personal relationship (or maybe it’s just a bribe so they won’t steal your stuff when they’re in your home unattended.) Maybe that’s what it comes down to for me, is that if I have some kind of relationship and I know that they do (or would) go above and beyond on my behalf then I would give them a gift (of money, perhaps.)

    • +1
      There are few people who should receive extra tips…I’m also reconsidering my tip amount from a bartender that twists off a cap and making my waitstaff tips more representative to actual service (tip high when great service 20-30% and tip 10-15% with sub-par bordering on crappy service).

      Hey it’s called a TIP for a reason and not an entitlement. Happy holidays! 🙂

      • A caveat in regards to servers and bartenders – most of them earn well under minimum wage because the way the law is set up, they are expected to make their money in tips.

  • I would tip the USPS/UPS/FEDEX/Garbage folks, but I live in a row house, so I don’t know if 1) they are consistently the same and 2) how to do it without just taping a $20 to the front door or garbage cans. Any ideas?

    • I worked part time picking up trash during my summers home from college. If you’re feeling in the giving spirit, and you feel they deserve it, an envelope filled with cash can easily be taped to the underside of the lid. They will find it, trust me.

      If you’re not in the mood to give cash, gift cards and 6-packs (yes, I’m serious) are also common. I’m not promoting getting your garbage men drunk, just throwing out ideas. However, a beer probably wouldn’t be terrible during this cold weather while picking up other people’s trash..

  • for condo staff I’d say $20 each unless they went above and beyond helping you this year…..

  • House Cleaner: $100 (equivalent of her cleaning)
    UPS Driver: $100 He is awesome and tries to accommodate us year round ..he’s also been our driver for years now.
    Support Staff at work: 50-100 Gift Cards

  • I forgot to say that my cleaning said that many of her clients may tip but she mentioned not tipping is okay but please don’t cancel her service around the holidays, she said a lot of people do and that is worse.

  • I live in a big (300+ unit) condo building with a lot of staff who I don’t normally see. In previous years the condo association put out a basket where we could all contribute and it would be divided among the staff. This year they didn’t. I don’t know how I would go around finding everyone on staff myself, so I will probably just end up tipping the few front-desk people I see regularly.

    I hope next year the association goes back to the pooled tips, so that the cleaners and night-shift people aren’t shorted.

  • We usually buy our building manager a gift, such as a nice bottle of champagne, and also give about $200 to the hardworking man who cleans the building.

  • We also tip the cleaner an extra payment, but don’t tip the rest, mostly because of really bad service.

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