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Seasonal tipping: what to give, and whom to give it to


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’Tis the season to spend more on greasing the palms of porters and dog walkers than on gifts for your loved ones.

New Yorkers dole out more on holiday tips than anyone else because we rely on an abundance of “service providers,” noted Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas. Yet, many Gothamites feel as if they’re “held captive” by obligation and expectation of tips from these providers, she observed.

Well, yeah: We don’t want our bikini waxer or baby sitter to be angry while ministering to all we hold most dear.

In the post-crash reality, however, flagrant profligacy is out and thoughtful, considered assessments are in. “We cannot apply the same rules as we did in previous years because our income is not the same,” said Lyudmila Bloch, author and owner of the New York firm Etiquette Outreach.

Tips should be given to people who rely on them as income (folks who tend not to receive benefits such as health care) and who perform their jobs exceptionally.

If you live in a co-op or condo and don’t know if the building workers are given annual tips from the operating fund, ask your management agent or a board member. If so, said Bloch, there is no need to tip. And if you contribute to a tip pool, there is no need for you to re-tip.

If you are unable to be as generous as you usually are because of a reversal of fortune, tell the recipient this, stressing your appreciation for their reliability and service in a heartfelt card.

Money always should be conveyed within a card and accompanied by a personal note, incidentally.

If you’re confused as to what to give, here are our experts’ guidelines:

Nannies, baby sitters, housekeepers, home-care attendants
The norm is one week’s pay. For baby sitters or nannies, also include a little homemade something from the kids. Dog walkers who give Fido a whirl five days a week similarly are tipped for great service.

Personal service providers
Throw in the cost of one service in addition to your usual 20 percent tip for people such as hairstylists, maincurists and personal trainers. If you can’t afford to pay $440 when you go for your $200 haircut, add in double the cost of your regular tip.

Building personnel
These tips are highly variable, depending on what you’ve tipped throughout the year and how much money you and your building workers earn, etc. If you’re flush, 15 percent of your rent or maintenance to a high-performing, full-time super is super. If you’re not, tips for supers are typically from $50 and up. Porters and package-room attendants typically get a minimum of $20 and doormen $30.

Parking lot attendants
Twenty percent of one month’s parking fees to be distributed to all who pamper your precious Tin Lizzie, is standard.

Teachers and tutors
Private teachers and tutors usually receive the cost of one lesson. Public school teachers do not get cash gifts but you can feel free to buy classroom materials. Some parents also give gift cards.


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