What's the current thinking on "Holiday Tipping"? Who do you think should be tipped and how much?
December 15, 2003 11:58 AM   Subscribe

In my copy of yesterday's Sunday newspaper, I got the paper delivery person's holiday card, conveniently listing their home address. My question: What's the current thinking on "Holiday Tipping"? Who do you think should be tipped and how much?

I'm not against holiday tipping per se, although some years I feel better about it than others. A few years ago, this wouldn't be as much an issue, but not this year - thank you US economy. ;)
posted by jca to Society & Culture (21 answers total)
I have never tipped my paperperson. But I've only gotten a card once, so...
posted by me3dia at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2003

I tip everyone, generously (so long as they actually provide good service) -- to the point, in fact, that it drives my boyfriend crazy. There is a website - tipping.org that can provide some guidance on this sort of thing. I think their rates are a little high, but that might be an artifact of my being in a rural area.

Think of it this way -- would you like to do your newspaper delivery person's job, even for a week? Early hours, cold/wet weather, crappy pay ... how much is it worth to you to brighten this person's holiday a bit?
posted by anastasiav at 12:14 PM on December 15, 2003

Here's a history of tipping for the curious.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:24 PM on December 15, 2003

on my list this year:
- our dog walker -- she goes above and beyond and takes very good care of the pups
- the guy who cuts my hair (he's put up with my shenanigans this year)

i used to tip the guys where i have my po box but there's been such high churn there this year that i haven't developed the same relationship.

and ditti with our postal carrier. i think a number of people do the route throughout the week and i'm not sure who is who. i value their service, but it's difficult when you would have to divide something between an number of people.
posted by heather at 12:39 PM on December 15, 2003

Here you go. We tip the newspaper guy $20.
posted by werty at 12:39 PM on December 15, 2003

I always tip our trash collectors generously. As anastasiav notes above, they are in one of those occupations that are just crappy and smelly and yucky. And don't tell me it was their choice to take that job. Some jobs are self-evidently the province of those with extremely limited choices.

I would be less than honest if I didn't also mention that tipping the trash guys encourages them to maintain a liberal interpretation of the curbside pickup rules, and so they pick up a lot of stuff (scrap lumber, drywall, big bulky things) from my curb that they might not otherwise. This saves me many trips to the dump over the course of the year.

So, to review, crappy job + power to inconconvenience me = Big Tips!!!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2003

When I was a kid, we used to leave a tip for the mailman as well as tucking a little something on top of the newspaper bundle for the garbage crew. In retrospect I'm surprised federal employees were allowed to accept a gift. The garbage guys never acknowledged the gift, but they also never ever missed our house.

These days I'd do neither -- anything out with the garbage is sure to be pilfered by the horde of scavengers out every night. The USPS guy screws up enough that I don't feel obligated to offer him anything at all.

I don't get the paper, don't live in a multihome dwelling with a superintendent or custodian [as I understand is something of a New York custom, though not common where I live], wouldn't know where to find a milkman even if I wanted one, I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to tip the Jehova's Witnesses, the delivery guys from the pizza joint and the americanized chinese food place are both so fast that they always earn a hefty tip and something extra isn't called for. You can't write a check for large negative numbers, so tipping the UPS guy is out. Webvan never accepted tips, and they're gone now.

There just aren't too many chances for me to offer a little something to those who faithfully service my household throughout the year. Maybe a couple of bucks for the guy who cut some grass for me, but he disappeared halfway into the year.

Given how few chances I get for such things, if I had a paperboy, I'd slip him a couple of bucks.
posted by majick at 12:50 PM on December 15, 2003

Any New Yorkers here? I live in a building with a super, two doormen, two concierges, ten handymen, and ten porters. It's a decent-sized building (25 floors, 10-20 units per floor) with somewhat standard rents ($1790 for my studio) in the Financial District. Last year I think I tipped $25 or $20 per person. Too much, too little?
posted by subgenius at 1:13 PM on December 15, 2003

Don't forget a note. A lot of people don't often have the experience of actually being appreciated for their work. If your goal is to say "thank you", then sincerity is just as important as cash.
posted by fuzz at 1:21 PM on December 15, 2003

How to you tip a Garbage Collector?

They're often done their job before 8:00 am. Do you tape something to your garbage can? I can't figure out the physics of it all.
posted by websavvy at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2003

Subgenius: You're in the right range. We tip the staff in our building (handymen, porters, and doormen) anywhere from $0 to $50 depending on how well they know us and look out for us. $25 is a good median for standard service to a rental unit. Give more to those that take care of you.
posted by werty at 2:11 PM on December 15, 2003

subgenius: When I lived in Chelsea, in what sounds like a similar building to yours -- a bit smaller, slightly lower rents -- we tipped $20 plus a small plate of cookies for each, and immediately became everybody's favorite tenants. Seriously, it's amazing how much a little Toll House goodness will get you.
posted by ook at 2:21 PM on December 15, 2003

If your goal is to say "thank you", then sincerity is just as important as cash.

Many years ago, aged about thirteen, during my short and unremarkable career as a paperboy, in the winter, in a neighborhood with large houses and correspondingly long driveways, on my bicycle in the ice and rain before dawn, when it came to tipping at Christmas time it was most definitely cold hard cash that made the job possible.

Curiously, the size of tip was generally inversely proportional to the wealth (judged by house size and location) of the tipper.
posted by normy at 4:15 PM on December 15, 2003

that's about right, subgenius, unless there's one or two of them who have been especially helpful (i would give them something extra- a regifted bottle or little gift certificate)
posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on December 15, 2003

Well, I once delivered a newspaper. I made 4 cents per paper delivered, or $1 per hour. Yes, I delivered papers in Canada. That was about 10 years ago.

Let your guilt do the rest.
posted by shepd at 4:56 PM on December 15, 2003

Last year somebody not our delivery person slipped a S.A.S.E. and a friendly note into our newspaper near the holidays. As it turned out they did the same to several thousand of our neighbors. If you plan to tip your paper carrier, be sure you're tipping your paper carrier
posted by sudama at 5:52 PM on December 15, 2003

Websavvy: yes, tape an envelope to the garbage can. Use the clear packing tape, it'll hold. Do the same on the recycling bin, if you have a separate recycling service - in fact, you probably do, and didn't even realize it! Chances are, whichever service gets there first, will in fact leave the other envelope for the other service. They're good like that.

As a caveat, I'm in a fairly rural area, I don't know if random passer-by plucking envelopes off garbage cans would be a problem in an urban setting or not. I hope not.
posted by yhbc at 9:24 PM on December 15, 2003

I have to agree with normy, when I was a paperboy, the card was all very well but its the cash that says they care. You have to remember that when you're on the pittance that paperdelivers get that even a little tip is a big bonus. I'd suggest a even a few quid was decent, as the kids work is split over different people, it also depends on whether they're daily or just weekends. Plus of course Americans are bigger tippers anyway.
posted by biffa at 2:16 AM on December 16, 2003

You can't go wrong leaving the rubbish man beer.

I recall one festive season when bin-day fell on Christmas Day itself. Since we were all up early, my Dad went out to give the rubbish man a six-pack in person, instead of leaving it on the bin.

In return, the rubbish man showed my Dad how to 'war chalk' your bin so that you can be recognised as a beer-giver and ensuring that the garbos will always collect your bin, even if someone has parked their car in front of it or something.

He may well have been taking the piss (arf!), but I'm still not telling you what the 'secret symbol' is...
posted by backOfYourMind at 4:54 AM on December 16, 2003

"I don't know if random passer-by plucking envelopes off garbage cans would be a problem in an urban setting..."

I grew up in an urban setting, and we did this (well, tucked it under the string of the newsprint bundle, but the garbage guys collected those too). However, I wouldn't do it today -- I see people prodding around at the cans all the time even when they are not set out, and a nice crisp envelope smells like unattended cash. Your best bet would be to wake up early enough to get out there and hand it to the person.
posted by majick at 6:19 AM on December 16, 2003

is MSN using Ask Mefi to find ideas for its articles?
posted by TreeHugger at 8:17 AM on December 16, 2003

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