How Much Should You Tip Your Doorman? An Etiquette Expert Weighs In.

Throughout the holidays, societal standards and the "goodness of our hearts" compel us to extend tipping far beyond the usual parameters of servers, cab drivers and exotic dancers. But who do we tip? How much is too much? How little is too little? How much of a little is much too little, and what the hell does that even mean?

Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author, and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, gave us some vital tips on how much dough to dole out in order to increase your personal karma and avoid looking like a total d*ck during this otherwise enchanting season. 


Jacqueline's Tip:  "Up to the cost of one haircut or a gift."

This Christmas, I'll be giving my barber the gift of casual conversation, because I usually let it be known I resent small-talk, then sit there humming 80's Pop Standards to myself.


Jacqueline's Tip: "$15 to $100."

Living in NYC, this is a huge point of contention/confusion. While Jacqueline leaves some wiggle room here, the nicer the building (aka, the richer you are), the more you should give.

Personal Trainer

Jacqueline's Tip: "Up to the cost of one session, or a gift."

So basically, make sure your sessions are really cheap, or you choose a PT that enjoys home-made, crudely done beer can art


Jacqueline's Tip: "A gift card or gift certificate for up to $25, or pitch in with some of the other parents and buy a more expensive gift certificate."

A gift certificate makes perfect sense here. Not only because it would feel a little too Payola to give your teach cash, but also because the people guiding our children's future deserve to enjoy a satisfying meal at Chili's, without having to think about the bill. 


Jacqueline's Tip: "Up to the cost of one visit."

For the person that picks up your dirties and cleans the leaning tower of crusty dishes that have been in your sink since Labor Day, a little Yuletide cash is a small order. 

Massage Therapist

Jacqueline's Tip: "Up to the cost of one session or a gift."

If I was you, I'd wait till after the session is over (and your clothes are back on) before you give your masseuse extra cash - you wouldn't want to give the impression that you are looking for "special treatment." Unless you are, and in that case at least buy them dinner—and bus fare to the free-clinic. 

Mail Carrier

Jacqueline's Tip: "Small gift or gift card up to $20."

These guys and gals go through rain, sleet, snow and all that other stuff to make sure your Internet-ordered booze, bologna, and Japanese candy get inside your gut in a timely manner. Drop them a $20—they'll probably be drones soon enough. 


Jacqueline's Tip: "$20 to $80 or a gift, depending on how helpful your super has been to you."

For those not living in an overcrowded apartment building, you might think Superintendent means this. Actually, it's the man (or occasional woman) who pretty much is the handyman/janitor/assistant to the landlord. You should tip according to how helpful they've been. My Super owes me  $30.

Sanitation Workers

Jacqueline's Tip: $10 to $30 each for private service; check your local municipality for regulations, as some areas may not allow tipping

In all seriousness, if anyone is deserving of some Holiday tips, it's sanitation workers. But don't hide your cash inside your garbage and bank on the fact that all garbage people go through your trash, because only the more ambitious ones do.   


These professions were not covered by Jacqueline, but I felt as though they needed attention.

Christmas Tree Vender 

Wil's Tip: $5 to $15, depending on the amount of work done.

This is one I personally struggled with, so I asked a Christmas tree vender himself. He said most people at least throw a few bones, and he considers $5 to be the standard.


Wil's Tip: $Varies.

I neither support nor condone the selling of illicit drugs, nor the use of them—but it is a multi-BILLION dollar industry worldwide, so we obviously know a lot of people are getting down. As for how much you need to give, it really depends on how hairy the situation is. For pot dealers in Portland? Maybe a few extra bucks. Extra-strength hallucinogenic licking toads in Utah? Might deserve a $20.   

Your Boss

Wil's Tip: At least 5% of your annual salary.

Want to improve your professional standing and show your boss who is really, um, boss? Give him a Christmas bonus. Total alpha move. Lightly slug his shoulder and tell him "You've earned it, champ." Bosses love that kind of initiative and gumption. Probably.

Wil Fulton is a recent Harvard grad who just received his triple Black-Belt in kung-fu, shortly after escorting Miss America safely to the top of Mount Everest. He’s also a compulsive liar. Follow him for the real truth @WilWithOnlyOneL