Tips on holiday tipping

PHILADELPHIA - December 16, 2013

I've received many phone calls and emails about holiday tipping. It can be a stressful issue this time of year. So who should you tip and how much?

Expert Gail Madison of the Madison School of Etiquette and Protocol has a general rule of thumb about any holiday tip.

"Should be presented as a gift with a really nice card or stationary with a personal handwritten note and you need to give it to them in person," Madison said.

And while how much you tip varies depending on your relationship with that person and your budget, there are guidelines.

For doormen, Madison says a cash gift of $50 to $150 each is appropriate. She says building maintenance people usually receive $25 to $30.

But if your building collects for all staff members in a community pot, you can contribute as little as $25 to the pool and you don't have to tip individually.

When it comes to regular valets or people in your parking garage, $10 to $25. For dog walkers, it's customary to give cash that equals one week's pay. For housekeepers, the cash equivalent of one visit.

For nannies, it's customary to give cash, too, at least the equivalent of one week's pay, and a personal gift from your children.

For hair stylists, generally the cost of one appointment.

An appropriate holiday tip for a trash collector is $15 to $20.

For newspaper delivery people, $15 to $25.

Tips for mail carriers and package delivery people are trickier.

"Your mailman, USPS, is not allowed to accept cash and no gift over $20," Madison said.

FedEx drivers can't receive gifts worth more than $75. UPS prefers its drivers receive gifts rather than cash.

When it comes to teachers and bus drivers, gifts or gift cards are also preferable.

And check any business or company's policy before giving.

"You might want to talk to the owner, get a sense of what the policy is, what's expected," Madison said.

If your budget doesn't allow for holiday tips at all, don't stress.

"Many, many other people have had to cut back, get more creative," Madison said.


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