Appropriate holiday tips for building staff.
December 31, 2007 7:33 AM   Subscribe

New Yorkers, please advise me on appropriate holiday tip amounts for building staff.

I am preparing to give out end-of-year tips for the people who work in my apartment building, and I would love to hear how others determine end-of-year cash amounts for their NYC building staff.

I own an apartment in a ~40-unit Manhattan building. There is always a doorman at the lobby desk, but otherwise the building is not at all what one would consider a luxury, full-service building. There is also a non-live-in super. I live alone and don't really require any personal extra effort from the building employees, although I feel sure that if I ever needed anything they would go out of their way to help me. Every member of the staff is friendly and first-rate, so I'd like to err on the generous side of the tip scale. I need to tip my super and each person on the roster of six doormen, who work anywhere from one to six shifts a week.

I've googled and found several articles about what to tip but they didn't seem to be particularly applicable, so I'd love to hear about your personal decision-making processes. How much do you tip your building employees? What is a good way to determine appropriate amounts?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My building suggested tipping 40-100. I have 4 full time doormen. Two of which i haven't seen yet to give them this. Also, give cash.
posted by octomato at 7:57 AM on December 31, 2007

I tipped $100 to the regular staff doormen. The ones that know my name, help me when I have packages, and open the door. I tipped $50 to the repair guy that is usually the one that helps me out and $50 to the package room guy that I am in regular contact with.
posted by spec80 at 8:24 AM on December 31, 2007

I lived in a not-super-fancy ~400-unit doorman building in midtown Manhattan from 1998 to 2006. I asked around my work colleagues etc. (and also read Time Out New York, which has had helpful advice on this topic in the past) and in the later years ended up giving the doormen $80 or $100 each, the super $50 and everyone else (maintenance people and porters) about $25 each.

This is a lot of money to pay, but I was almost never home until very, very late (even by NYC standards) and had a lot of dry cleaning and packages delivered while I was out. I figured that even $100 per doorman was less than a medium tip for everytime they received a package or did something for me.

I bought inexpensive Christmas cards, and put the recipient's name on the envelope and my name and apartment number on the inside with the tip. If you trust the doormen, you can then leave the stack of cards in their envelopes with one doorman (this always worked fine for me).
posted by sueinnyc at 8:28 AM on December 31, 2007

(So as a doorman in NYC in a building of 400 units you can expect a $40,000 year-end bonus? Wild.)
posted by maxwelton at 8:21 PM on December 31, 2007

When I lived in a building with a staff of 30, I tipped $50 each...but ultimately not to those who refused to treat me with respect, lied to me or behaved incompetently.

I now live in a place with a staff of eight and I tip each $100 (though not all of them deserve it: "they didn't have the right insurance info, so I sent them away and I couldn't bother to tell you that they wouldn't be sent up...........")
posted by brujita at 2:08 AM on January 1, 2008

maxwelton, I often wondered about that myself, but there were many people in the building who for a variety of very different reasons were home during the day and probably did not use the services of the doormen extensively. I assume they tipped quite a lot less. Likewise, some of my neighbors used the services of the handymen quite extensively and presumably tipped them much better than I did.
posted by sueinnyc at 6:43 AM on January 1, 2008

When I lived in a doorman building, my roommate and I were still students. So my roommate and I tipped fairly low because we couldn't afford $100 or even $50 per staff member. But as my roommate said, the doormen know who have money and who doesn't, who's getting packages delivered from Bergdorf Goodman and who's getting packages from And he was correct in that we tipped less than most but they were are appreciative.
posted by falconred at 6:53 AM on January 1, 2008

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