What's an appropriate Xmas gift for our bimonthly house cleaners?
December 1, 2020 7:58 PM   Subscribe

We pay $150 for a thorough house cleaning that takes 2-3 hours, twice a month (until recently once a month). My partner read that an amount equal to one cleaning session (i.e., $150) was standard or expected.

This seems a bit high to me--I was thinking $100 flat. House is in suburbs of Boston, 3 bedroom, 2 bath with two very messy twin boys trashing the joint 24x7.

We wouldn't consider anything beyond cold hard cash only because we don't know them well enough to personalize something, but they're very nice, incredibly reliable, and do a phenomenal job.

Everything I've ever read about tipping & gratuities is all over the map on what's right and wrong.

What do you think?
posted by eggman to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I always give at least one weeks pay, and in years when I am flush, I give a full month. When my cleaners stopped coming during the worst of Covid- I paid them still. It is how I show how much I value their service.
posted by momochan at 8:11 PM on December 1, 2020 [9 favorites]

I don’t think anyone would turn up their nose at a hundred dollars, but yes, a session’s worth is customary. If you value them and can comfortably afford it I’d leave the full $150.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 8:15 PM on December 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

i also have biweekly cleaners, we tidy up before they come, and i christmas-gift a session's worth, about the same as what you pay.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:20 PM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

My understanding (passed down from my parents) of holiday bonuses is that you pay housecleaners and other regular household help who come in once or twice a month a full session's worth; if they're coming by on a weekly basis or more frequently, two sessions'/weeks' worth. This seems to be the going rate among my metro Boston friends who pay for housecleaning services as well.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 8:25 PM on December 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

At least one session's worth. If you're in a comfortable position, give more. This, of all holiday seasons, is not the season to be stingy. If you're lucky enough to be doing well, show your gratitude through generosity to others.
posted by praemunire at 8:31 PM on December 1, 2020 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for confirming that my wife is right . . . again! I'll never learn.

I'm generally the farthest person from stingy but COVID has affected our financial situation--thus the question.
posted by eggman at 8:34 PM on December 1, 2020 [13 favorites]

I definitely am not trying to come off as rude but if you have that much money to get your house thoroughly cleaned that often and you have very messy children (no judgment, mine are very messy too), the only reason you should do less than $150 is if you don’t know any better. But you do. Even if your financial situation has changed due to Covid, you’re still getting cleanings. Just like if your financial situation changed and you went to a restaurant, would you decide to tip less?
posted by smirkyfodder at 1:28 AM on December 2, 2020 [9 favorites]

Honestly, this year I would double the usual tip, so $300.

If you're having cleaners coming into your house every 2 weeks, that's hugely risky for them. For reference, our cleaner used to come 1/month and has come a total of twice since March, but we will be paying at least a full session fee for Christmas (and our circumstances have changed since Covid too--but we also continued paying ours even when she didn't clean). Many people have completely cut out their regular house cleaners this year and the cleaners are often in highly vulnerable personal situations and find it hard to collect unemployment.

Your Christmas tip may be the difference between whether your cleaner and her children are hungry for weeks into the new year or able to relax a little bit.
posted by luckdragon at 5:28 AM on December 2, 2020 [9 favorites]

How many cleaners come each week? You should tip each of them and separate the tips into the right number of envelopes. Don't just leave one tip for all of them to share. If a session costs $150, it's best to tip $150 per cleaner and not $50 each. Back when I had cleaners (pre-covid; having people in my home is no longer safe for me), I had to budget for this, but I included it as part of my 10% income "tithe" in my budget spreadsheets. Obviously it's not tax deductible the way that donations to charitable organizations are, but it helped me to think of it in those terms.

Also, were there any weeks that you canceled the session? If so, you saved $150 then and can put that towards their tip now. It is always better to err on the side of generosity when tipping. I have never once regretted giving "too much" money to somebody who does a service for me. In fact, it usually makes me feel good.
posted by k8lin at 6:20 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

We pay $100 per service twice monthly to clean our Manhattan apartment. We make a decent-enough living, but in the sorts of jobs you can get as middle aged people who formerly were mainly performing artists. We give $100 bonuses around Memorial Day and Labor Day, and at year end we give a $100 bonus plus one service of “paid vacation” (i.e., we pay $300 and get one service in December). FWIW, we continued to pay during the lockdown and will do so again in another lockdown so long as we can afford it and bearing in mind the difference between ability to pay and willingness to pay. Our thinking is that this money is far more meaningful to our cleaner than it is to us, and if taking care of her this way means we have to skip a restaurant dinner or two a few times a year we are happy to do that.
posted by slkinsey at 6:36 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm generally the farthest person from stingy but COVID has affected our financial situation--thus the question.

Its nearly impossible for me to imagine this isnt also the case for your house cleaners. We paid ours even though she didnt come for months and even gave her glowing recommendations to several people in our building who were looking. this is definitely the year to tip more than your initial inclination if ever there were one, within whatever constraints youre experiencing.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:17 AM on December 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

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