How much to tip?

In days gone by, many of us tipped the “paperboy” at least a dollar every week, usually on Fridays when he arrived on his bicycle and collected for that week’s papers.

That’s not the case any more!

Today, we’re billed directly for an annual newspaper subscription. What’s more, the old “paperboy” is now the “newspaper carrier,” and he or she arrives at the end of the driveway on four wheels, not two.

No money changes hands, and very few words. We wouldn’t even know the carrier’s name if it weren’t for the self-addressed holiday envelope inserted within the folds of the newspaper a few days before Christmas.

Yes, we’ll tape that envelope to the back door with a generous holiday gift inside, because we appreciate having the newspaper there seven days a week, before the sun even rises, come rain or come shine!

Exchange rate
It seems the old paperboy may have made out much better than today’s newspaper carrier when it comes to tips, especially at holiday time. According to today’s suggested “rules of holiday tipping etiquette,” the going gratuity rate for carriers is between $10 and $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price.

On the other hand, don’t cash-tip the mail carrier! A small token gift is fine, but the USPS prohibits cash gifts, checks, gift cards, or ay other form of currency, according to Emily Post, the maven of etiquette.

Holiday tipping guidelines
Here are some more suggested holiday gratuity ideas from Ms. Post and others sources* from around the web that you may find helpful:

  • Regular babysitter – One evening’s pay and a small gift from your child(ren).
  • Full-time babysitter/nanny — One week of pay and a small gift from your child.
  • Day care provider – A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member and a small gift from your child(ren).
  • Cleaning lady – A tip equal to the cost of one visit.
  • Barber – Cost of one haircut or a gift.
  • Beauty salon staff – The cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. (And, the rules of etiquette have changed — it’s now appropriate to tip the owner, too!)
  • Manicurist – If you are a regular customer, give a cash tip equal to the amount you pay for one session.
  • Pet groomer – Up to the cost of one session or a gift, if the same person grooms your pet all year.
  • Dog walker – Up to one week’s pay or a gift.
  • Trash/recycling collectors – $10 to $30 each for private service; for public service, check with local municipality for regulations
  • Teacher – Don’t spend more than $25. (Check the school’s policy regarding holiday gift-giving.)

Etc., etc.
The list could go on and on. If you live in a metropolitan area, check the sources above or below for holiday gift tips for service providers such as the doorman, building superintendent, garage attendant, elevator operator, etc.

These are just suggested guidelines, there are no rules carved in stone — there’s also the option of a handwritten note expressing your sincere thanks.

*Additional sources include

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