Every year around this time, I am asked about New York City holiday tipping etiquette, especially for Manhattan apartment building staff.
Here is my take on the situation:
So many ask, “why tip at all for someone who is merely doing his job?” An additional reward for work well done is a welcome gift. It is good manners, and customary to show one’s appreciation by giving a little something extra during the holiday as a way to say “thank you”.
Keep in mind the following factors in determining what to give:
- how pleased are you with the service
- the frequency of the service
- how long you’ve known the person
- your budget
- the local custom
- the type of establishment (deluxe vs. moderate building)The following are ranges of suggested gratuities:
- Apartment Building Superintendents: $25 - $1000. There is a wide range here depending on the services offered by your building and how much the staff are at your beck-and-call during the year.
- Doormen/Concierge: $25 and up Take into consideration how nice they are to you, if you get lots of visitors and deliveries, and if they actually open the door for you. To maintain a level of quality service, you need to pay for it.
Porters: $15- $50 These people have a difficult and sometimes unpleasant job. If you spilled Styrofoam packaging stuffers in your hallway or incinerator room, you owe it to your custodian to remember.
Handyman: $15 - $50 This is an instance where your tip can be proportionate to the amount of the work you’ve requested during the year. If you merely greet the handyman in the hall, the lower end of the range should suffice. If you’ve gotten him out of bed in the middle of the night to repair a gushing water leak, ask yourself how much such a task is worth to you and show your appreciation accordingly.
- There is a long list of other people to remember during the holidays-garage attendants, personal trainers, housekeepers, babysitters, stylists, etc., and the range of what is considered appropriate is wide and left mostly to personal judgement.
Regardless of the cash value of any gift, however, it is important that a gratuity be given as a present. Include a nice card with a hand written note and deliver it personally. Cash is appreciated, rather than checks. In what can seem like an uncivilized city, it is important to remember to make a gesture of appreciation to those who make your life easier. The holiday season is the perfect time to do so.