Christmas Bonus for Building Staff?
December 22, 2013 4:03 PM   Subscribe

How much should I give the staff of my luxury condo building in Brooklyn in Christmas bonuses?

I moved into a luxury condo building earlier this year. Recently, I received a holiday greeting card from the building staff with photos and names - 13 members in total. I'm guessing this is a way of reminding residents to give Christmas bonuses.

I've never lived in a building like this before - I have no idea what is appropriate, and how it should be given.

Details: Luxury condo in downtown Brooklyn, great staff, 13 in all. How much to give in total, and how? Cash in envelope given to the front desk? Also, I am not an investment banker or anything like that - by way of comparison, I can only afford about $250 in gifts for my own family, including extended.

If you live in a similar situation, I'd love to hear what is considered normal for your building.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:16 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would strongly suggest talking to your neighbors, but it sounds like given what you've told us your budget is for your own family, you don't have anything that you can afford to give in tips for the building staff.

You might want to try to consider some sort of non-monetary thank you, but that might simply highlight to the staff the fact that you (in some of their minds) didn't tip them at the holiday.
posted by arnicae at 4:36 PM on December 22, 2013

You should give $0 in tips to the building staff. If you only have a gift budget of $250 for everyone and you live in a Brooklyn luxury condo, then you are effectively broke. After you realize this, the next step is to fix your situation, which means not incurring any discretionary expenses that you can possibly avoid. Tips are one of those expenses.
posted by saeculorum at 4:43 PM on December 22, 2013 [13 favorites]

Cash in envelopes handed directly to the staff as you see them is best. Turbid's guide is pretty accurate... it's hard to do less than $20 a person, and the more senior the person, the more you should give. Some buildings do a general building fund where each apartment gives a suggested amount and the building splits it accordingly, which would make your life easier, but it doesn't sound like yours does.
Since you can't afford to give much, you may just want to tip the super and maybe the doorman you see most often, and be done with it. But in general it is expected that you tip the building staff every year as part of the cost of living in a building with staff, and you should budget this as part of your living expenses in future years.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:46 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I lived in a condo in Manhattan for a few years, and turbid dahlia's list looks about right for what was expected. Sucks when there are so many people working. I feel for you.

Now I live in a condo in Queens with only two people on staff. We tipped both our super and our porter $150 and I have the impression that we were on the high end of things.

Advice that wasn't in the question: I would skip it this year, and save for next year. Don't tip some and not others. They keep lists.
posted by gaspode at 4:54 PM on December 22, 2013

They'll note that they haven't been tipped too.

I say borrow or get an advance for $50 per worker.
posted by brujita at 9:12 PM on December 22, 2013

That list linked to by turbid dahlia terrifies me. Granted, i live in Toronto, but i give my building's concierges (what new yorkers call doormen, we call concierges) $30 gift cards to a nearby coffee shop, and nothing to the people i never interact with (like the cleaners who i've only seen a couple of times in 6 years). I have no idea if that's normal or not.
posted by Kololo at 10:24 PM on December 22, 2013

I live in a full-service doorman building in Manhattan, and generally speaking, we tip the super and the staff members who do stuff directly for us a bit more than we tip the rest of the staff. For example, there are painters that work in the building who paint the common areas but have never done direct work for us, and we usually tip them around $10-20. Otherwise, we stick to roughly the amounts in turbid dahlia's link. I put the tips in a religion-neutral holiday card (think snowman or winter wonderland type stuff), write their name and sign it with our names and apartment number.

Our building provides a big box in the lobby where you can drop off your envelopes, but we will hand them to the individuals if we happen to see them. Also, if you're going away for the holidays and don't have time to hand them out individually, you can usually hand them off to the super to distribute.
posted by bedhead at 6:56 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older No Snow Tahoe   |   How can I engage in better conversation and avoid... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.