What to tip when spreading holiday cheer

‘Tis the season for holiday tipping, and those who expect to do so intend to spread between $20 and $50 of holiday cheer to service providers, according to a new survey.

Median intended tip amounts according to the CreditCards.com poll:

  • $50 to housekeeper and child care providers
  • $30 to the landscaper
  • $25 to teachers
  • $20 to trash/recycling collectors
  • $20 letter carriers

“Across the board, I would say these are hardworking people who do a lot of good for us in our local communities. And I think, if you can, it’s great to give them some extra love around the holidays, with cash, preferably, or maybe a gift card,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

Rossman said cash is usually best, but in some circumstances you need to be careful. The Postal Service prefers workers not receive cash, but gift cards are OK, “especially if it’s a store-specific card, they frown on those general purpose, Visa and MasterCard gift cards, as well,” he said.

Short on cash? You could write a nice note.

“I’ve actually seen some really kind of heartwarming, viral videos about delivery drivers who found some prepackaged cupcakes and sodas and stuff like that. And it really did kind of make their day that somebody thought about them and appreciated them,” Rossman said.

What about people providing services who mighty get tipped regularly throughout the year? The survey finds that 45% of those who tip intend to tack on a little extra over the holidays.

There are generational differences in who’s most likely to be a generous holiday tipper.

Members of Generation Z (ages 18-24) are more likely to give higher tips around the holidays (51%), compared with 48% of millennials (ages 25-40), 43% of Gen Xers (ages 41-56) and 42% of baby boomers (ages 57-75).

“We know there’s a strong correlation between tipping behavior and whether or not you’ve worked in the service industry. And most of today’s service industry workers are young adults,” Rossman said. “So I think that a lot of these Gen Zers and millennials are looking out for their own and they know what it’s like, and I think it’s great that they’re spreading some extra holiday cheer in the form of higher tips.”

WTOP’S Mike Jakaitis contributed to this report.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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