BBB Tip: Your Guide to End of the Year Tips


The end of the year is a time to show appreciation for those who provide necessary services and little luxuries in your daily life. But this year, the increased cost of goods and services means you may need to pay extra attention to your tipping budget. Even if you are limited in what you can give, there’s no need to feel uncomfortable. A little extra thoughtfulness can go a long way.

Determining who to tip and how much to give can be confusing. To avoid extra holiday stress, BBB recommends the following tips to help you tip confidently while staying within your budget.

Tips for holiday tipping

  • Consider your budget. Begin planning your tips by looking over your holiday budget, or creating one, if you haven’t already. Tips aren’t obligatory, so if you don’t have the extra cash, consider other ways to show your gratitude. According to the Emily Post Institute, homemade gifts or a simple thank you note are perfectly acceptable ways to say “thank you” when funds are short.
  • Start planning tips early. You don’t want to be scrambling through your purse to find some extra cash when you see your regular delivery driver pull up. Once you set your tipping budget, make a list of who you plan to tip and how much. Do this as early as possible, keeping in mind that tipping before the holidays are officially here means the recipient will have extra cash for holiday spending.
  • Tip with cash when possible. Cash is usually the best way to give a tip. It means the recipient has access to the funds right away and won’t have to pay any fees to use the money. That said, if you regularly pay someone via an app and want to tip that way, you can. Just make sure you include a brief note letting them know the extra money is a tip for their good service.
  • Make the tip attractive. For a classic tip, The Wall Street Journal says crisp bills in an envelope that reads “Thank You” on the outside is ideal. You can even write a brief thank you note to express your gratitude when appropriate.
  • Tip according to the depth of your relationship. Match your tip amount to the quality and quantity of work the person does for you. If you hire a babysitter once in a while, an appropriate tip might be the equivalent of one evening’s pay. On the other hand, if you have a live-in housekeeper, an entire week’s pay would be suitable.
  • Know whom not to tip. Some professionals can’t accept tips because of ethical reasons, including doctors, lawyers, and government officials. Some companies don’t allow their employees to accept tips. Don’t be afraid to ask up front if a professional or company employee can accept tips if you aren’t sure. When appropriate, a gift is a good alternative.

Tipping by profession

  • Personal service providers. For hairdressers, massage therapists, or any other personal-service provider you regularly tip, consider upping your tip amount during the holiday season. If you normally tip 20%, make it 40%. Depending on your budget, you may decide to tip them the cost of an entire visit. The same goes for other service providers, like your dog walker or groomer. The equivalent of one service makes for a generous end-of-the-year tip.
  • Nannies, babysitters and caregivers. A similar rule applies to tipping childcare, home health aides, and similar professions. Tipping the cost of a session, such as an evening’s pay for a regular sitter, is considered standard. For a live-in nanny, though, consider a bonus of up to a week’s wages. For those hired through a service, make sure you check that they are allowed to accept tips before giving.
  • Building staff. If you live in an apartment building, consider tipping cleaners, superintendents, security, and concierges. Somewhere between $25 to $100 each is a good range for this kind of service.
  • Mail and delivery service providers. U.S. Postal Service workers may not accept gifts of cash or gift cards, but they can accept small gifts worth $20 or less. Canada Post workers can accept nominal gifts worth no more than $100. In both countries, FedEx and UPS employees are encouraged to decline cash gifts, but they can accept small personal gifts when making a delivery.
  • Professional service providers. Most professionals, such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc., won’t accept cash gifts, so consider giving them a gift card or present instead, with a note of thanks.

For more information

Gift cards are a classic way to show your appreciation. But before buying, check out these tips from BBB. Read this article for advice on picking corporate gifts

Get more tips for the holiday season from BBB by visiting the holiday page.


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau