The holidays are approaching, and all over the nation, people are making their year-end tip lists. I’m not going to lie, some people brag about the size of their list.

My favorite strategy is to take a categorical approach. That is, I put my service providers into six categories — and the categories all offer guidance for finding the right amount.

  • For people who help you in fixed sessions — like a dog groomer, hair stylist, or personal trainer — the appropriate holiday gift is the amount of one session.
  • For people who help you on a continual basis, most etiquette authorities recommend one to two weeks’ pay based on performance.
  • Each person who works with your children (outside of the home) should always receive a small gift from the kids on top of a modest tip in the $25-$50 range.
  • Government workers like trash collectors and postal workers generally cannot accept cash or any gift over $20 in value.
  • If you live in a building with support staff you see regularly, such as doormen, you can feel secure at $100 for each person.

If you prefer to get more specific recommendations, I compiled this list  in 2019:

  • Au pair, live-in nanny or home health aide: Up to one week’s pay and a gift from your child(ren), if gift giving is not against agency policy.
  • Regular babysitter: Up to one evening’s pay and a small gift from your child(ren).
  • Day care provider: A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member who works with your child(ren) and a small gift from your child(ren).
  • Live-in help: One week’s pay as a cash tip.
  • Housekeeper/Cleaner: Up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift.
  • Barber or Beauty salon staff: Up to the cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you.
  • Personal trainer: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
  • Massage therapist: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
  • Pet groomer or dog walker: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
  • Pool cleaner: Up to the cost of one cleaning to be split among the crew.
  • Garage attendants: $25-$100
  • Newspaper delivery person: $10-30 or a small gift.
  • UPS or FedEx delivery person: Small gift in the $20 range. Most delivery companies discourage or prohibit cash gifts.
  • Superintendent: $25-100 or a gift, depending how friendly and helpful your super has been.
  • Handyman: $15-40, depending how much you use their services.
  • Trash/Recycling collectors: $10-30 each, if private. Some regulations may prohibit collectors from accepting gifts. 
  • Yard/Garden worker: $20-$50. If they work often, give up to a week’s pay.

I think we’re going to have terrible weather for Thanksgiving — but have you ever noticed that happens every year? In any event, don’t forget how awesome you are for giving tips in the first place!