Best Guide to Holiday Tipping

I received Wendy Sarajohn’s Newsletter this week.   She is brilliant when it come to imparting the inside info around town on everything from where to go to what to pay.   Normally, I would have quoted Wendy, but really, why bother?    This is a cut and paste job to bring you the most reliable insights into the protocol for tipping in the Holiday Season.    Don’t feel the need to follow by the number, but for me, I appreciate the range and the Wendy’s confident expertise.

Wendy’s Holiday Tipping Guide
When I walked by this year’s Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center on a way to a showing last week, I was dazzled by the 9 foot wide Swarovski star, which ignited my seasonal angst about how I would ever find the time to get everything done by the end of the year. I decided that instead of my usual monthly newsletter “tips”, I’d share our holiday tipping guide to help you check one more thing off your list. Hopefully this will alleviate those stressful questions, “Who do I have to tip?” and “How much do I give?”
Having just spent the past three days putting crisp bills into envelopes and with everything fresh in my mind, I hope that this information is helpful and wish you all a serene and sane holiday season!
Building Staff
Resident Manager/Super
This is the “hero” who makes sure our buildings run like well-oiled machines. Whether they come in to change a light bulb, unclog the bathroom sink, or simply make apartment living smoother, they are critical to the ease of our everyday lives. Depending on the structure of your building, the resident manager/super should get $200-$1,000. If you tip throughout the year, adjust the amount accordingly.
Doormen
On average, each doorman gets $100-$250, but people tend to give more to their favorites–everyone has a devoted doorman who jokes with their kids or always grabs their golf clubs when they fumble through the door. Depending on your schedule don’t forget that the overnight guy and the weekend crew are also standing at the door ready to help! So even if you rarely see them, consider taking care of them, as well. For many years our overnight doorman slept on the job, so I knew what he looked like but I am quite certain he had no idea who I was as I’d tiptoe past him not wanting to wake him from his sound slumber.
Maintenance Staff & Porters
They may be seldom seen but they are very important members of your building staff. These are the guys down in the basement maintaining the boiler to keep your water hot and picking up your trash. Make sure they know that their hard work is appreciated, and I suggest giving them each $80-$150. I realized how challenging their job is when I accidentally “threw away” a mini-fountain I’d ordered for my office from Amazon, and my building’s porter helped me go through bags and bags of garbage in the basement and in the courtyard of the building. I felt like I’d won the lottery when I found it in a large black Hefty bag! I now know why he put on gloves before we began our hunt, and it isn’t because I live in a Park Avenue white glove building.
Garage
Depending on how often you use your car a good guideline is $25-75 per attendant. Adjust accordingly if you find yourself tipping every time you pick up the car. Garage staff lists tend to be long like apartment building lists, so it’s okay to tip higher for those that you interact with more frequently, or those who go above and beyond their duty by helping you load/unload your car every weekend or bother to look under your seat when you realize you don’t have your glasses but you don’t want to go back to the garage if you didn’t lose them there.
Household Staff
Childcare
Nanny
Full time nannies in NYC generally get paid a holiday bonus of two week’s salary. This is in addition to any paid holiday days off that they are receiving at this time of year. It is also thoughtful to demonstrate your appreciation with a personal gift of something you know they want in addition to the cash. If you re-gift, let them know someone gave the present to you and you thought they might want it.
Babysitter
If you have an occasional babysitter who watches the kids when you go out, it’s appropriate to give them the average amount you would pay them for a regular Friday or Saturday night.
Tutors, Piano Teachers & Special Helpers
If your child sees someone on a regular basis it’s nice to acknowledge their devotion to your child with an extra something.
Housekeepers
A bonus of one week’s pay is the standard holiday tip for a cleaning person who comes at least 1x per week. I love my housekeeper, Maria, who sprinkles her angelic energy around my apartment and manages to resuscitate the orchids I practically kill, so I always give her two weeks pay and something for her daughter. Doing something for those that help make your life a little bit easier is always a nice gesture. When I was growing up, my mother would take out our cleaning man, Simon, and his wife for lunch or dinner at a restaurant. It meant so much to him, and he, his wife, and my mother would all dress up and have a wonderful time.
Other Helpers
Dog Walker
If Lulu is run ragged and not peeing in your living room, you are happy! Make sure those long walks stay that way and consider tipping your dog walker a week’s pay this holiday season.
Others
Don’t forget those people who make your daily life a little easier and help to make you look fit and fabulous. Your driver, masseuse, manicurist, yoga teacher, pilates person, hair stylist and personal assistant all deserve a little extra something special during the holidays.
My driver not only takes care of me by reminding me to get something to eat and that we’ll get there on time when I am stressing about traffic but he also looks after my car. When I am showing an apartment, he will polish it as if it were a special jewel. Because he is a true treasure, I give him two week’s salary and something to wear to keep him warm along with a gift receipt.
Some Do’s & Don’ts
You may think an Hermes tie is a luxury, but trust me most doormen would much prefer the tie in cash. If you decide you want to add cookies or liquor to sweeten the monetary gift that’s different. I always ask my doormen if they want something from Starbucks when I dash out for my bone dry cappuccino.
Do give the money in cash and not a check or old crumpled bills. Money is money but this is a gift and there’s something yucky about expecting the doorman to go to the bank to cash the check. I always write a personalized note and give the money in a card.
Do give the Christmas money the first or second week in December. It means so much to a doorman to know he can get his kids what they want and not have to wait until Christmas Eve or after the holiday to shop. Make an extra effort to do things sooner rather than later.
Don’t give the Resident Manager a stack of envelopes to distribute as you won’t know for sure if the doormen get the amount you wanted to give them. You can ask another doorman when someone’s shift will be and make a point of handing their envelope to them while wishing them a happy holiday.
Tips from the Team
Jamie S. Joseph
Try and keep track of what you tip the doormen/building staff and remember where you save it so you can easily reference it the following year. In my building, a holiday card listing all the staff members is distributed to every shareholder. I tend to hand write amounts I’m planning to give next to each name and then take a photo of the letter and save it in a file on my computer. While I’m sure an excel spreadsheet might be more efficient, this method works for me and it takes a lot of stress out of the process.
Emily Goldfrank
Living in a West Village walk-up, it’s the small businesses in my neighborhood that make my daily life manageable. My local dry cleaner climbs up and down two flights of stairs twice a week to pick up and deliver my laundry within minutes of my calling in the request. I plan on tipping $100 to thank them for their speedy service and their unwavering attempt at getting out any and every stain I collect on the daily. I’d also be nowhere without the restaurant downstairs from me. They generously collect my packages that require signatures, hold extra keys for me in case I get locked out (it happens more than I’d like to admit), and, most importantly feed me and keep me company at the bar when I’m too lazy to cook for myself. Last year to say thank you, right before Christmas, I stopped in and bought everyone on staff a drink.
Chloe Chasanoff
This is my first Christmas that I have been back home in NYC after college. Now that I am taking on more responsibility at work, I find myself wondering who I would like to tip for Christmas. I am an avid coffee-drinker and every morning I go to Starbucks on my block and order my usual almond milk cappuccino. The barista and I are on a first name basis and we always crack jokes to each other. He makes my day a little bit better and easier just by saying, “Chloe’s usual coming right up!” at 8:30am. The new Starbucks app allows customers to tip with their orders, but most people do not make that extra gesture. Since it’s the holidays, I’d like to acknowledge his friendliness and personal attentiveness by spreading holiday cheer and brightening his day with an extra $5.00.
Charles B Holmes
When I was living in a very large pre-war rental on Central Park South, there was a staff of over 30. I ended up tipping the doormen who were there when I left early in the morning and when I was home in the evening. I wanted to be generous to the ones I knew well, but did not feel a strong obligation to those from whom I’d never requested or received services. Now that I’m in a much smaller pre-war building in Murray Hill, there’s a much smaller staff and therefore I know them all very well and will tip them accordingly.
Justin J. Pak
Having spent the last three years in Tokyo, I have to readjust to the holiday tipping culture back here in the States (and frankly just tipping in general). I never feel ashamed to ask for advice from my friends and family about how much I should give and what would be appropriate–but I always make sure to get more than one opinion and make the final call on my own. For example, I often have trouble finding someone who cuts my hair the way I like it, so this year I want to be extra generous with the staff at the East Village branch of my favorite Tokyo salon. My mamma italiana will probably scold me when she finds out I’m giving Shawn $100, but I’m betting my hair is going to be consistently better than hers next year!
Brown Harris Stevens | WendyJSarasohn.com | wsarasohn@bhsusa.com
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Wed, Dec 12, 8:30 AM (1 day ago)

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Charles B. Holmes
When I was living in a very large pre-war rental on Central Park South, there was a staff of over 30. I ended up tipping the doormen who were there when I left early in the morning and when I was home in the evening. I wanted to be generous to the ones I knew well, but did not feel a strong obligation to those from whom I’d never requested or received services. Now that I’m in a much smaller pre-war building in Murray Hill, there’s a much smaller staff and therefore I know them all very well and will tip them accordingly.
Justin J. Pak
Having spent the last three years in Tokyo, I have to readjust to the holiday tipping culture back here in the States (and frankly just tipping in general). I never feel ashamed to ask for advice from my friends and family about how much I should give and what would be appropriate–but I always make sure to get more than one opinion and make the final call on my own. For example, I often have trouble finding someone who cuts my hair the way I like it, so this year I want to be extra generous with the staff at the East Village branch of my favorite Tokyo salon. My mamma italiana will probably scold me when she finds out I’m giving Shawn $100, but I’m betting my hair is going to be consistently better than hers next year!
Brown Harris Stevens | WendyJSarasohn.com | wsarasohn@bhsusa.com
Follow me through the holiday season!

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