Who—and How Much—to Tip This Holiday Season

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated November 29, 2021
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  • Giving tips during the holidays is a gesture that can show your appreciation.

  • There are several things to consider before tipping a pro, like your budget and relationship to them.

  • Aim to tip all workers who provide a service that makes your life easier—house cleaners, contractors, and more.

  • Rules for accepting tips and donations vary from company to company.

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The winter holiday season is a great opportunity to show your appreciation to everyone in your life—including to the people who work so hard to make your day-to-day tasks easier. Giving the service pros in your life an end-of-year tip is always optional, but it’s a lovely gesture. Not only can a tip make their holidays a bit brighter, but it can also strengthen your working relationship with them and help build rapport. If you’re wondering who and how much to tip this holiday season, we’ve compiled a quick guide so you can make spirits even brighter.

5 Important Factors to Consider Before Tipping

Figuring out a holiday tip requires a few different considerations.

1. Budget

Your budget might be the most important factor to consider when preparing to tip any service provider. Factor in bills and the rest of your gift spend to see how much you can reasonably give. Make a list of who to tip and determine how much you can give them. Set your budget sooner rather than later so that you have some time to save up some cash before the end of the year rolls around.

2. Relationship

Do you share a friendly “hello” or a nice chat about life with your home improvement contractor or house cleaner whenever they stop by? Do you hire them regularly? Both of those things could mean giving them a bigger tip. Base your tip partly on your relationship, including how long you have worked with them and how time-consuming or strenuous the work is.

3. Quality of Service

Service pros who go above and beyond to do their job well deserve thanks. Those local landscapers working overtime to get your yard looking prim and proper before your holiday party definitely deserve it. If a face-to-face “thank you” doesn’t feel like enough, consider tipping them. 

When determining how much you can tip each person, prioritize those who have blown you away with the quality of their work. Bonus points if they do a specialized job that you can’t do yourself, like making home repairs or cleaning your hard-to-reach second-story windows.

4. Tipping History

If you tip workers regularly, you don’t necessarily need to give them another generous tip for the holidays. If you’re on a tight budget, consider giving them a small gift, like homemade cookies, instead. 

5. Etiquette

Think about the tipping customs in place in your area before you tip your service worker. Maybe you live in a place with a higher cost of living, so higher tips are customary. Perhaps you know for a fact that your neighbors always get together to offer local lawn care pros a generous joint gift each holiday season. You should always ask your service provider if they accept gifts or tips and ask friends and neighbors to get an idea of what’s standard.

Who to Tip and How Much

As a general rule, tip all service providers who make your life easier. If applicable, that includes your general contractor, housekeepers, landscapers, and more. Use this list as a general guideline, but tailor it to fit your budget as you see fit.

  • Contractor, handyperson, or other home maintenance worker: $20–$100 each

  • House cleaner: $20–$100 each

  • Pool cleaner: $10–$30

  • Landscaper: $25–$50 or up to a week’s pay

  • Trash and recycling collector: $10–$30 each (check local rules first)

Should I Tip My Mail Carrier or Delivery Driver?

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Even when the weather outside is frightful, your trusty mail carrier is out providing crucial delivery services to all. There’s also an inevitable uptick in package deliveries during the holiday season, which means they’re working even harder than usual. While showing your appreciation with a tip or gift is a wonderful gesture, there are a few rules to consider first.

Your main mail carrier likely works for the United States Postal Service (USPS), which delivers mail to millions of households and businesses across the country each year. Per federal law, USPS mail carriers cannot accept cash or cash equivalents (e.g., gift cards and checks) as tips. You can, however, get them a small gift as a token of your appreciation. Some ideas include baked goods, your favorite coffee beans, a box of sweets, and a spill-proof insulated mug. You can also wish them well with a handmade card.

If you’re an avid online shopper or get a lot of packages for work, you probably have a regular FedEx or UPS driver as well. Each carrier has its own rules regarding what type of tip or gift they can accept.

  • USPS: Gift valued at less than $20, no cash or gift cards

  • FedEx: Gift valued at up to $75, no cash or gift cards

  • UPS: Small tips and gifts accepted

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