Tuesday, December 18, 2012

URBAN PROBLEMS DESK:It's been a few years since we last discussed it, but as we come to the end of the year, it's time to once again discuss the question of holiday gifts/tips.  Two questions:
  1. Is a tip/gift a reward/incentive for past performance, or is it an encouragement for future performance?  For instance, I moved earlier this year into a new building.  Is a lower gift appropriate as a result? 
  2. Who to give to and how much?  Some are easy--my assistant gets a gift, and the three doormen on staff at my building will each get something and a card, but mail carrier?  Newspaper delivery?
My inclination is $5-10/month lived in the building for the doormen (who address me by name and are constantly helpful), but I want to make sure I'm not out of the ballpark there.


  1. pfrduke10:35 AM

    As a transplant to NY and confronting the issue of tipping building staff for the first time, I found the guide below helpful:


  2. Ugh, the tipping. I think of it as a reward for past performance that also may affect future performance. And yes, I think a lower gift is appropriate since you moved in the middle of the year.

    I give (in Manhattan): $80 to super, $40 to each doorman (pro-rated if they have not been there the full year, $20 to those who are part-time), $35 to handymen, $20 to porters. Not saying this is the standard, but this is where I have settled and the amounts haven't changed in years.

  3. I agree with Saray. Holiday tips are a thank you for past performance and an incentive for the future. I live in a house in Chicago, so my only tip recipients are my cleaning lady and the newspaper delivery guy. I doubled the cleaning lady's pay for the holidays, but I don't know what's appropriate for the newspaper delivery guy.

    My stay-at-home-mom sister always tips the mail carrier. He can't take cash, so she gives him a Dunkin Donuts gift card. I never see my mail carrier. Am I supposed to gift him anyway?

    Also, I get the Sun-Times delivered daily, and the Sun-Times and Trib on Sunday. I got 2 tip envelopes. It's the same address on both but different names. Do I have to tip both?

  4. KCosmo's neighbor11:32 AM

    I've lived in my building for 22 years, so I'd have to disagree with the $5-$10/month lived in the building. That would be a bit excessive, yes? As for the tips, it varies from year to year, depending on the turnover of the staff. Old timers get rewarded nicely (especially if we find them helpful). We live in a small building, and the staff is also pretty small. Best not to hurt anyone's feelings. I usually give the mail carrier $20-25. We do right by the garage guys too, as we prefer our car to be parked carefully.

  5. To clarify, I meant $5-10/month lived in the building during that year, not over collection of years, so $60-120 for a full year tenant.

  6. KCosmo's neighbor12:15 PM

    Phew. Meanwhile, the link below is very helpful, and apparently I've been in the right range for as long as I can remember.

  7. Heather K10:54 PM

    We double the pay for the housekeeper, give nothing to mailperson we never see, contribute to the building holiday bonus fund in a healthy (suggested by the co op guidelines) way--this gets divided between all 24 staff of the building, plus give $20-40 in a card to doormen with more to the more senior and particularly helpful, and maybe that to any maintenance staff it seems appropriate too. I think we give like ten to the sunday tribune delivery guy. This is all new to me since I moved to Chicago, but the husband has lived in this building for like 8 years, so he has it figured out.

  8. I am very glad I don't live in NY or in a nice building. I am way too cheap to do all this tipping.