Q. Should I give a holiday tip to the letter carrier who delivers our mail?
A. The United States Postal Service has rules about this that state that carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer, but that cash, checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. In other words, you could give your carrier a cash gratuity and whether he or she accepts it is up to him or her, since the rule applies to the acceptance, not to the giving of the gift. Or you could give a present valued at $20 or less.
Q. Is a holiday tip to the UPS and Federal Express delivery personnel appropriate?
A. If you receive regular deliveries throughout the year and the delivery personnel take care to place packages safely at your residence, you may want to give a thank-you tip. Again, it would be a small gift in the $20 or less range, or cash if the delivery company doesn’t prohibit this. Again, the prohibition is for the driver, not for you, so it’s your call.
Q. What about household service providers, like the trash collector, dog walker, cleaner, and babysitter. Do they get tips?
A. Generally, yes. If the sanitation workers go the extra mile and don’t throw your trash cans in the middle of the street and are helpful, $10 to $15 per crew member is pretty standard. If you have a daily dog walker, a cash equivalent to one service; a housekeeper, a holiday card with one week’s pay enclosed plus a personal gift depending on your relationship; and a regular babysitter, the equivalent of one night’s or day’s pay, along with a note or picture from your child.
Q. I live in an apartment building that has a superintendent, doormen, a handyman and an elevator operator. They take good care of me but I don’t know what’s appropriate for a holiday tip, which I presume I should give. Can you help?
A. For the superintendent, a gift or cash in the $20-$80 range; for the doormen, $20 or more for each, or a gift; for the elevator operator or operators if there are shifts, a gift of $15 – $40, and the same for the handyman with less given if he’s never fixed anything for you and more if he has, unless you tipped him at the time of service.
Q. My mom is in a nursing home and she is anxious about tipping the employees. Is there a guideline?
A. You would not give cash, but a gift that can be shared is a great thank-you, whether cookies or candy or other fairly non-perishable food items. Assuming there are three shifts, as at a hospital, you would give three of the same gift, marked “First Shift,” “Second Shift,” “Third Shift,” and leave them at the desk with a note of thanks with each gift.