The Doorman, The Nanny And The Dog Walker: Who (And What) To Tip This Christmas

As you scramble to make your way through your Christmas list this month, don’t forget to add the people who provide services that make your year better.

Here’s a quick guide to holiday tipping and gift-giving:

  1. Your gift or tip is reflecting your appreciation for the person’s services. Always include a handwritten thank-you note or Christmas card with your tip.
  1. When determining the amount you’re going to tip someone, consider the frequency with which you use their services, the quality of that service, and what your relationship is like with the individuals. (As a general rule, you’re not going to tip a friend. So buy a gift instead of tipping if your hair stylist is also your best friend.)
  1. As a general rule, tip someone whose services you use year-round — like the dog-walker, newspaper carrier or housekeeper — the amount of one session or week’s pay.
  1. On a budget? Focus on tipping the people you’ve personally hired to do work. (You didn’t hire the delivery man, but you did hire the gardener.) And if you really can’t afford cash gifts this year, still acknowledge your gratefulness in a note or card.
  1. Keep track of who you tipped this year — and how much you tipped them. (An online spreadsheet is a simple way to do so.) Next year, you’ll have a quick reference.

For the people who take care of your children:

Day care staff: Give $35-70 per person who looks after your child. (Stick to the higher end if only one person does.) Consider adding a small handmade gift, like a homemade ornament or framed drawing, from your child.

Nanny: Give one or two week’s pay — or a gift of equivalent value — plus a small gift from your child.

Babysitter: Give the equivalent of one or two night’s pay, plus a small gift from your child.

Teacher: We don’t recommend cash gifts — they look like bribes — so stick with gift cards or thoughtful tokens of appreciation. (Your kid’s teacher has enough “#1 Teacher” mugs. Trust us.) Consider pooling together with other parents and giving the teacher a gift certificate to a fine-dining restaurant or local spa.

For the people who take care of your pets:

Dog walker: Give the equivalent of one week’s pay or a gift of similar value, like a spa treatment, warm mittens for winter walks, etc.

Pet groomer: If you use their services regularly, tip the price of one session.

For the people who take care of you:

Assistant: Give your assistant a gift or gift card — worth at least $50 — along with their end-of-year bonus.

Hairstylist and/or manicurist: Give the equivalent of one visit. (No need to tip if your stylist is also the salon owner.)

Personal trainer: Give a tip equal to one week’s services — or buy a modest gift you know your trainer will appreciate.

Massage therapist: The equivalent of one massage, or a gift for the staff to share, like a fruit platter or flowers.

Personal caregiver or private nurse: Depending on appropriateness — some agencies don’t accept tips — give one week’s salary or a thoughtful gift and thank-you note.

Dry cleaner: Drop off flowers or a box of baked goods for the entire staff to enjoy.

For the people who take care of your home:

Housekeeper: Give the equivalent of one week’s pay and a small gift.

Doorman: Depending on the number of doormen in the building and how much he does for you, give somewhere between $20 and $100. (Consider starting a holiday pool in the building that other residents can contribute to.)

Building superintendent: Give up to $100, depending on the quality of service over the past year.

For other service providers:

Barista: If you have a favourite barista who knows your order before you even get in line, consider putting your tip in a card so it doesn’t get pooled with the other staff.

Newspaper carrier: Give the equivalent of one month’s subscription price.

One-time seasonal help: If someone delivers your Christmas tree, give them $20. (If they simply help you tie it to your car’s roof, offer $5 or $10.) If someone wraps your gifts, give $5 or $10. Keep a few small bills in your wallet so you can tip the people who make your holidays a little brighter.

Mechanic: If you service your car with the same mechanic regularly, give a small gift of $20.

Repair services: It’s Christmas. If someone fixes your dishwasher in time for your annual shin-dig, tip them $20 to $40.

No cash gifts allowed:

Some professions can’t accept cash tips. When in doubt, call the front desk and ask about the policy regarding accepting tips.

Mail carrier: Canada Post allows its carriers to accept gifts of up to $100, but not cash. Many delivery companies adhere to similar guidelines, so steer clear of cash gifts for delivery persons and stick with gift cards or small gifts instead.

Doctors, therapist, lawyers, accountants: Many professional boards prohibit accepting cash gifts from patients or clients. Instead, send flowers or a platter of Christmas cookies for the entire office to enjoy.

Who do you tip during the holidays?


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