Help! I Have No Idea How Much to Tip During the Holidays

All I want for Christmas is to know how much to tip the awesome people in my life.
Publish date:
December 21, 2011
the holidays, advice, boundaries, costumes, i have issues, gratuity, tipping

I consider myself to be a pretty good tipper. I typically tip at least 20 percent for everything, including food delivery and taxis, if not more when the service warrants it. I tip even more at my local establishments and always make sure my bartenders are well-compensated, even if sometimes it frustrates me to tip the same amount for a glass of wine as an elaborate and complicated cocktail. I mean, I even tipped my spin instructor when he quit. Talk about reinforcing terrible behavior.

So yeah, when it comes to everyday tipping, I feel confident that I’ve got it down. But then the stupid holidays come around and screw everything up. I mean, seriously: I know you’re supposed to tip certain people certain amounts at certain times of the year, but honestly? I have no idea who or what or how much.

So, um, yeah. I’m asking for your help. Again. I mean, I could Google it, but ugh. You guys are real people. And you’re so much smarter (and prettier) than the rest of the Internet. Plus, I trust you.

I’m sure you have your own tipping questions, so please leave them in the comments and we’ll all do our best to help each other out, but in the meantime, here are my biggest concerns:

1. My Housekeeper

Before we even get to the tipping, can someone tell me what I’m supposed to call her? I mean, other than her name, duh. Is it housekeeper? Cleaning lady? Maid? (Ew, no. I am not calling her a maid. Can’t do it. Won’t do it!)

Marina is the loveliest person ever. She comes every other week and does all of the stuff I hate doing, like vacuuming the baseboards and, fine, I’ll admit it: my laundry. She also gives me bottles of wine for Christmas AND Thanksgiving. And, because boundaries aren’t a thing, it’s even possible to have when living in San Francisco, she also cleans my mother’s place, as well as a bunch of my friends’ apartments. That information may or may not be important, but I want you to have all of the details.

2. My Hair Stylist

I’ve been going to Lana for about three or four years. I have long boring hair that I trim every 10 weeks or so. (I used to color my hair obsessively and I gave it up about two years ago and ohmygod, best decision ever. You don’t even realize how much time you’re spending in the salon until you don’t have to go there for three hours every six weeks.)

Lana is awesome (and terrifying) in that she remembers EVERYTHING I tell her. And I’m just a big fan of hers in general. A cut costs $85. (And I’m seeing her tonight, so this is time sensitive stuff!)

3. The Parking Garage Attendant

This is the weirdest one because my parking garage attendant actually makes me super uncomfortable. He forces me to have extended eye contact with him before he’ll hand over my keys, has started calling me “Mami,” and in the last couple of weeks hasn’t always charged me the full amount.

But: I park in one of those garages where you have to turn your keys over to the valet because they move the cars around in order to pack as many vehicles in there as possible.

Whenever I park in a garage like this if I am going out to dinner or shopping, I always give the valet $1 when he brings me my car. However, in the “work” garage (I drive to work maybe three days a week), I never tip.

Which makes me think I need to give him a holiday “bonus” type of thing. I really want to try to separate the fact that he's inappropriate with the fact that he parks my car since I feel like it's my fault for not putting a stop to his creepy behavior. And yes, I get that it’s weird that I park my car in a garage where the attendant makes me cringe, but it’s the closest one to my contract job and I didn’t even tell you the part about how I’m convinced he sprays his cologne in my car.

4. Building Manager

I just realized that in the five years I lived in my building, I’ve never given my Apartment Building Manager a holiday bonus. But that’s totally okay because he’s also my oldest brother! (See: inability to maintain boundaries while living in San Francisco.)

However, this year my brother, I mean, building manager had to do a lot of work to help me move from #305 to #304. That’s right: I moved NEXT DOOR. But we also did a bunch of work on the new apartment and he had to put in a ton of time and effort. Plus, even though it did take him over a month to install the radiators, he finally managed to get them in just hours before I died from hypothermia.

Seriously though, it’s an annoying job and we aren’t actually exchanging brother/sister Christmas presents, so maybe I should give him some cash? Or something more personal and thoughtful? But not too personal and thoughful because the reason we're not exchanging presents is so that I don't have to think.

4. The Postman

Never talked to him. Only seen him a few times. Do people tip their postman? I mean, he DOES deliver my US Weekly… Also, you're not technically allowed to tip them cash money, but is that something people follow?

5. The UPS Man

I don't know him, but oh does he know me. Listen, I hate shopping. Unless it's online. Enough said.

So those are the people I’m wondering about. I’m sure you have your own. Teachers, Babysitters, Trash Collectors, Personal Trainers, Pool Boys (rarrrrr), Newspaper Deliverers, Dog Walkers, xoJane Writers (kidding!)…

Let’s help each other out by offering advice in the comments. BUT ME FIRST, PLEASE.

Follow Daisy Barringer on Twitter. It's the best holiday tip you could give a girl.