Holiday tipping basics

If this is your first holiday season on your own, how to handle tipping can be confusing. How much should you tip your super or your doorman? How about the letter carrier? And what to do if there is no money in your budget for tips?

The gold standard in matters of etiquette, Emily Post, has a long list of tipping guidelines and here’s her latest advice:
Superintendent – $20 to $80
Doorman – $15 to $80; $15 or more each, for multiple doormen
Handyman – $15 to $40
Letter carriers – U.S. government regulations permit carriers to accept gifts worth up to $20 per occasion, not cash

Our blogger Jett wrote about her personal tipping experiences a couple of seasons ago and here’s her take.


Tipping your way to a happy New Year!
by jett, Friday, December 09, 2005


The holidays are here and if this is your first year on your own you may not know that in city apartments, tipping your Super is customary. And if you’re lucky enough to have a doorman, they’ll be expecting a little something extra too. This may sound crazy to you, I know that I had no idea about it. Now is a time that having a roommate can come in handy, because they’ll split the cost with you. A twenty for each of your doormen should keep them remembering you and your friends throughout the year (though, if you’re particularly rowdy, you may want to tip the night doorman a little more). A twenty is also a good starting off point for the Super. If they visit on a regular basis to fix things, you may want to consider something more.

If coming up with all that cash isn’t going to happen there are situations where a card/small gift can work just fine. The good news is that if you’re in a smaller town/suburb/old walk-up, tipping is not as expected. I got my landlord (she actually does a lot for me and lives next door, landlords are not customarily tipped) and Super each a bottle of wine last year and they both said a tenant had never done anything for them before (she is new to being a landlord) so that made me feel pretty good. My Super before was a recovering alcoholic (wine was out!) so I made him some cookies and he loved that, because he was a single guy, living in a basement, who knew only a handful of people in America. In other words, he wasn’t overrun with sweets like most people are during the holidays.

The bottom line: the tip should be in response to they work that they did for you all year. A cash tip or a small gift can be the key to maintaining a good relationship all year round. Good luck!

Author My First Apartment

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  1. Amanda

    Another person to remember is your cleaning lady. I have some friends who pool in with their roommates and have someone come in and clean every other week. So, if you’re one of the lucky kids who has a cleaning lady/man, it is a good idea to tip him/her the equivalent of one week’s salary that you pay him/her.

    Also, Starbucks and Whole foods gift cards make great gifts if you prefer not to give cash. Movie theater gift cards, too!

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