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A Guide to Holiday Tipping Etiquette

You're making your gift list and checking it twice — did you remember to include holiday tips? Etiquette guidelines recommend giving a holiday tip or a small gift to individuals who provide you with a recurring service throughout the year. From your cleaning lady to your babysitter to the barista who knows your morning order, a small gift is a thoughtful gesture during the festive holiday season.

The Emily Post Institute recommends giving holiday tips based on the quality and frequency of service you receive, your relationship with the service provider, and the number of years you've been using the service. Your location also plays a role: Tipping is generally higher in larger cities like New York City.

Here are some people to consider in your holiday gifting:

Cash rolled up with a santa hat on top.

Babysitter. Cash or a gift card equivalent to one or two nights pay is appropriate. While a homemade gift or card from your children is a thoughtful touch, it should be in addition to the cash tip, not in place of it.

Barista. A small cash gift ($10 to $20) is appropriate for the barista who knows your name and has your drink order ready for you every morning.

Building handyman, doorman and front desk staff. First, check with your condo or apartment association to see if there is a holiday tip pool shared by all the building's employees. If not, consider tipping individuals who have provided you with consistent service throughout the year. For example, if you receive service from your building's handyman on a regular basis, consider a cash gift between $20 and $50. If your building has multiple doormen, $20 for each is acceptable.

Dog walker. A small cash gift of either one day or one week's pay, depending on service frequency, is appropriate.

Housekeeper or home cleaner. For housekeepers who come multiple times per week, its recommended to tip a week's pay in cash. For cleaners who come once or twice per month, tip a single visit's cost in cash, typically a minimum of $50.

Letter carrier. While nothing is expected, if you have a friendly relationship with your letter carrier, a small gift is a thoughtful gesture. The USPS limits gift value to $20, and employees may not accept cash or cash equivalent, such as a gift card.

When in doubt, let your budget be a guide. Give what you can but do not feel obligated to tip above your means. A homemade gift, like holiday cookies and a genuine heartfelt note, are still always appreciated.

Family in the kitchen.

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