Holiday bonus for service providers?
December 17, 2007 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Do you give service-providers a special gift at Christmas? Does it matter if they're federal/state service providers (mail person, garbage guys) or people who work specifically for you or your company? Does it differ by country, city, or culture?

My partner and I engaged the services of a wonderful cleaning guy this fall- he comes in once a week for an hour to help us keep ahead of our messiness. It's great, we love him.

We weren't certain if it was customary to give him a special gift at Christmas, particularly since he comes in for an hour a week. We settled on giving him double what his usual hourly rate is along with a non-specific holiday greeting card expressing appreciation for his work and help this year, but we were wondering, what is normal/customary? Is double what we usually pay him per week low? High? Just right?

We also noticed that our garbage guys left everyone little photocopied "Merry Christmas!" notes this week. Was that a solicitation for a holiday gift? Should we give them something, and if so, how much? (If it matters, we're apartment dwellers and share our garbage can with 3 others).

We're curious about YOUR holiday service-provider gifts. We assume cash is the way to go, but do you give something other than cash? To whom do you give it?

Corporate service-providers, like: the cleaning person who cleans the floor of your building?

Federal/State/Municipal service-providers, like: your garbage guys. Your mail person. Your recycling guys.

Personal service-providers, like: your nanny. Your cleaners. The guy who washes your car. Your masseuse. Your manicurist. Your waxing esthetician.

Who do you make special holiday gifts to, how much, and what (if not cash)? Thanks in advance for satisfying our curiosity (and helping us figure out this dilemma).
posted by arnicae to Human Relations (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
House cleaning lady - yes
Sanitation crew - yes
Recycling crew - yes
Mailman - yes
Paper carrier - yes
corporate cleaners - no, but I assume the corp. provides a tip
posted by caddis at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2007

I've been wondering about this too.

How do give anything to the garbage man? Do you have to wait for them to arrive? Is there a main address or something?

How do you make sure the tip for the mailman reaches your mail person and not a "floater?"
posted by answergrape at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2007

I give $40-$50 to the garbage collectors to divide among the truck; they are pretty much always the same guys (and one gal) and give great service for a (literally) shitty job. Don't give anything to the mail carrier- I'm not sure they're allowed to accept it. Anyone know? I give the folks in the office/maintenance staff at the ice rink where I teach a big box of candy to share (and yes, they all like candy so this works). I cut my own hair, mow my own lawn, clean my own house, do my own nails, my husband rubs my back. Gosh-- maybe I'll give myself fifty bucks!

From the other side, I teach private skating lessons essentially to rich kids. I've gotten everything from handdrawn cards from the kids to $50 tips to cashmere scarves, expensive candy, gift cards for anything from $5 to $50 value, homemade/handcooked items. I have never been offended by any gift, or by the lack of a gift. My favorite gifts are the handmade cards from the kids, and yes I like cash. I am somewhat uncomfortable with the really expensive items (cashmere scarf, $50 Nordstrom gift card from the same person. Can't even imagine what they must have gotten for the au pair.)
posted by nax at 12:37 PM on December 17, 2007

Answergrape, I feel the same way. Should I stick a brightly colored envelope to the recycling can?
posted by arnicae at 12:38 PM on December 17, 2007

The NY Times addressed this today. They were vague, but did confirm that the postal carrier is not allowed to accept cash; gift cards are fine.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:43 PM on December 17, 2007

I don't give any christmas presents to anyone (including friends and family). This may not be that helpful, but I figured I'd put the data point out there.
posted by pombe at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2007

As I understand it, the mail carriers aren't allowed to accept anything.

I always give the lady who cleans my house an extra check at the holidays. I've known her since I was 12 years old (I'm 32 now) and I can't imagine not doing something for her anyhow. We tip our paper carriers (they're a family). I feel like I should do something for the UPS dude because we got married and got amazon prime this year, but I don't know if UPS lets them accept anything.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2007

I give our cleaning lady one times salary.

I would love to give something to our postal guy and garbage guys, but am waiting for this thread to tell me how to accomplish that -- the garbage guys come before we get up!!
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:47 PM on December 17, 2007

I did some research last year (can't find the USPS link, now) that said you can give your letter carrier non-cash gifts under $20. I gave mine nice wool socks last year. He's been really helpful and winter is cold for walkers... And to hijack: I would love some feedback on what to give our cleaning crew. It's a cleaning company (like Merry Maids), it's usually the same 2-4 people, but not always, and they come once a month. Ideas?

As for how to get the tip to the letter carrier and garbage guys, I've taped envelopes to the garbage can and I address an envelope to the letter carrier. If you throw a stamp on it, you make it a felony for anyone else to open, even another letter carrier, right?
posted by cocoagirl at 1:08 PM on December 17, 2007

I'm from TN, and I had never heard of tipping garbage men or postmen until I moved to the North East. And since I live in an apartment building now, I still don't worry about it. I tip one person, my super, because he accepts all my packages. And he gets a big ole tip for that.

Wow, it occurs to me that I don't have any "personal service" people to worry about. I guess I can consider the new Mac I am planning to buy a tip to myself.
posted by kimdog at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2007

blueprint magazine has a pdf file that comes in very handy. it divides between those your gift and those you tip, and the amount/value for each. it covers everything: bosses, babysitters, hairdressers, dog walkers, teachers, doctors and more.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2007

We give our maid a check equal to her typical charge per visit.

We've done different things for postman and garbage guys. My wife has done cookies and movie passes. This year she is giving the postman an iTunes card for $20 because she knows he walks his route with his ipod on. I don't know what she is giving the garbagemen--I'm not even sure how it is that she knows anything about them given that they come so early--but I'm betting it will be something under the $10 range.
posted by dios at 1:21 PM on December 17, 2007

also, to specifically answer the garabage men question: i was planning on giving my guys $10 each. they dropped a hint, however, when last week they conviently left a christmas card in my door frame that said "happy holidays from marcus & james, truck #210." i'm going to find a simple holiday (non-denominational) card, say "thanks for all your hard work," stick two $10 bills in, stick the envelope in a ziploc bag (in case of rain) and tape it to the lid of my trash can.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:24 PM on December 17, 2007

I've never given a tip to the mail carrier (its a different person every time I see him/her, albeit its rare for me to be home at that time). I add an extra bonus to my gardening service check for December.

++ on the how to give a tip to the garbage guys? Plus we have 3 different garbage trucks (that arrive at different times), each containing only one person. The truck is automated, so the driver doesn't have to get out at all - a mechanical arm grabs the trashcan and flips it up inside the truck. I daren't tape the envelope to the trashcan, as it runs a risk that someone else will steal it, or it will just get flung into the trash truck uncollected. Plus, one arrives before I wake up and the other two arrive after I leave for work.

New for this year is daycare for my son - give a cash bonus to the daycare manager and let her distribute it amongst the staff, or distribute cash myself?
posted by Joh at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2007

Oh, I just looked at the pdf file from blueprint magazine. Nice idea, but sadly a triumph of style over readability. I can't make sense of anything printed on the green. Babysitter - "up to two mfwntys paw" I think it says. Daycare worker - "up to sts oift".
posted by Joh at 1:47 PM on December 17, 2007

Joh- you're right. the original version was on the last page of the magazine, and was much cleaner. here is their list of "the ABCs of Tips and Gifts." they suggest up to a $75 gift for a daycare worker, and up to two night's pay for a regular babysitter.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:59 PM on December 17, 2007

For teachers - the idea I received years ago from a teacher is to give "consumables", i.e. money, cookies, candy, gift cards, craft supplies, movie passes, good coffee, etc. - things they would use up. Don't give mugs or any kind of tchotchke (especially anything with an apple on it) because they already have enough. And a handmade card from your kid is always well-received.

I like to give grocery store gift cards to service people. Everyone has to eat, right?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:27 PM on December 17, 2007

I once knew this guy in Portland who would finance a pretty big Christmas party from all the tips in bright colored envelopes stuck to trashcans he would steal at 3 a.m. He would also look under the lid and under the can. If you are going to tip them, figure out a thief proof way.
posted by Dr. Curare at 6:17 PM on December 17, 2007

Not all of us live in neighborhoods with punk ass thieves who steal christmas tips from garbage cans. Judge your danger accordingly. If you are really worried, put it out in the morning.
posted by caddis at 6:25 PM on December 17, 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle just ran a story about this, covering housekeepers, personal trainers, newspaper carriers, etc. They say for housekeepers, the rule of thumb is the cost of one visit.
posted by jeri at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2007

« Older Help me give the gift of dance   |   Pseudonymous blogging for the uninitiated Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.