Holiday tipping in a recession

December 3, 2008 5:28:22 PM PST
Gift giving is a holiday staple, but this year, gifts may be smaller because of the recession. And another area of giving may feel the pain as well - tipping. Some surveys show that 30 percent of people who give end-of-the-year tips will be giving less than usual this year. But according to those in the world of etiquette, you've got to do your best to give something, particularly cash.

We all know that both gifts and tips are great, and for many, holiday tips can make a huge difference in their annual income.

This year though, people in the service industry may see a decline in those holiday tips and gifts. Take special education teacher Michele Golardi. She's gotten scarves and jewelry from her students' parents in the past. But this year?

"Probably not," she said. "Unfortunately, probably not."

The recession is definitely hurting tipping," Patricia Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick runs the Etiquette School of New York. She's filling her envelopes with cash for all those who make her life easier, like her doorman. And she says even if things are really tight, you should still give money. She says, however, that you may be able to get away with tipping a small percentage less this year.

"I always include a nice note to tell them how much you appreciate them," she said. "And maybe it's more effusive this year than last."

An effusive note may sweeten the deal, but in the end, cash trumps all. For housekeepers, nannies and dog walkers, for example, tips can account for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

"They work hard and this is part of their income," Fitzpatrick said.

So unless you've lost your own job, you are still expected to give. It's the appropriate and right thing to do, for those you depend on.

So who do you tip? The list can be long and includes doormen, supers, babysitters, newspaper delivery people and mail carriers. And how much do you tip? That all depends. Tips can range from $5 to thousands.

A study conducted by Yahoo found the following average tips, followed the the percentage of people who gave gifts to a person in that position:

  • Cleaning person - $50, 65 percent
  • Child's teacher - $20, 59 percent
  • Hairdresser - $20, 56 percent
  • Chld-care provider - $38, 52 percent
  • Manicurist - $20, 51 percent
  • Newspaper carrier - $20, 45 percent
  • Barber - $15, 40 percent
  • Building superintendent - $25, 33 percent
  • Pet-care provider - $25, 30 percent
  • Mail carrier - $20, 29 percent
  • Lawn-care crew - $25, 28 percent
  • School-bus driver - $15, 26 percent
  • Fitness instructor - $25, 22 percent
  • Sanitation worker - $20, 14 percent

    Some recommendations

  • Dog groomer - 1/4 session
  • Dog walker - 1-2 week's pay
  • Maid - 1 week's pay
  • Gardener - $20 to $50
  • Super - $50 to $200
  • Doorman/concierge - $10 to $80
  • Elevator operator - $15 to $40

    For much more on suggested tips, visit

    For more on the Yahoo study, CLICK HERE.


    STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg

    WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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