- Michael Shapot, Esq.
Holiday Tipping Guide 2022 - 2023
Year in and year out, I am asked about NYC holiday tipping etiquette. With the holidays just around the corner, here is my take:
A gratuity at holiday time is an acknowledgment of work well done and is especially appreciated at this time of year. It is good manners, customary, and just plain “nice” to give a little something extra as a “thank you”. As anyone who dines out knows, tipping is expected, the base wages for waitstaff assume they will be tipped. The same holds true for many apartment building workers and others in local service industries, where anticipated holiday tips are factored into wages.
There is a caveat, however, which is that service providers are expected to provide good service. And if you work in a service industry, you should go out of your way to do the little extras because it is the right thing to do and because you are looking for money in return. Having said that, it is quite simply human nature to go the extra mile for people who demonstrate their appreciation. You wash my back, and I will wash yours.
So, the question of the moment – how much? In determining what to give, keep in mind how pleased you are with the service, its frequency, how long you have known the person, your budget, the local custom, the level of your service of your building (white glove vs. moderate), whether you rent or own, and personal chemistry. If you have just moved, it is okay to pro-rate the gratuity, but do not forget those you left behind. The actual amounts given will reflect your personal financial circumstance and whether you feel particularly generous, of if times are tough and you need to be frugal, or if you fall somewhere in between.
Also keep in mind that inflation has eaten into everyone’s after expenses, discretionary income. Some of us are more affected by the rising costs of fuel and food than others. Be especially generous this year to those less fortunate, if possible.
The following are my guidelines of suggested holiday gratuities:
Building Superintendents: $100 to $750. There is a huge range here and the amount given will depend on the services offered by your building and how much the super and the staff are at your beck-and—call during the year.
Door Staff - $100 and up. Consider how nice they are, the number of visitors and deliveries you have, and if they actually open the door and assist with packages, etc. To maintain a level of quality service, you need to pay for it. Unfortunately, that is just how it is. It is okay to tip some more than others but always presume that the staff compares notes.
Porters - $50 - $100. These people have a difficult and sometimes unpleasant job. If you’ve spilled kitty litter or Styrofoam packaging stuffers in your incinerator room, you owe it to your custodian to remember.
Handyman - $50 - $150. This is an instance where your tip can be proportionate to the amount of work you have requested during the year. If you merely greet the handyman in the hall, the lower end of the range should suffice. If you have gotten him out of bed in the dead of night to repair a gushing water lead, ask yourself how much a task is worth and show your appreciation accordingly. You might also consider whether you have tipped him on the spot when extraordinary service was provided.
Additional service providers who may expect a little something:
Mail carrier: $10 - $25
Garage attendant: $20 - $75
Nanny: 1 – 2 weeks salary
Housekeeper: 1 – 2 weeks salary
Babysitter: an evening’s pay
There is a long list of other people to remember during the holidays – personal trainers, stylists, manicurists, dog walkers, etc. and the range of what is considered appropriate is wide and left mostly to personal judgement.
Regardless of the cash value of any gift, and there is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: a gratuity must be given as a present. If times are especially hard for you and you cannot give much in the way of cash, do something else to show your appreciation and gratitude. Bake cookies, give movie tickets, etc. Always include a card and / or a handwritten note and deliver it personally. If money is given, cash is preferred rather than a check. The beginning of December is generally the most appreciated time to tip so that recipients can do their own holiday shopping.
In what can seem like an uncivilized city, it is important to remember to show our thanks and appreciation to those who make our lives easier. The holiday season is the perfect time to do so.
With warmest wishes for the holidays.