Manhattan Apartment Building Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Real Estate Agent with The Corcoran Group

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”.

Apthorp Upper West Side Doorman


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.

Claude my favorite Doorman

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.



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Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

I saw this on Facebook Service without attitude is what caught my eye ! Really good post one often wonders what to give during the Holidays!


Dec 11, 2012 10:25 PM #13
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Hannah, Thanks, I say give what you can. It's the thought that counts.

Dec 11, 2012 10:28 PM #14
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Thanks, Mitchell.  This is always a decision and having some guidelines is a big help. Showing appreciation (monetarily or otherwise) is always appreciated.

Enjoy your holidays!


Dec 11, 2012 10:50 PM #15
Randy Bocook
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Richmond Hill, GA
Selling Coastal Georgia

I tip the trash man every year at Christmas. That guy was out on Christmas Eve one year smiling his tail off and working hard.

Dec 11, 2012 11:06 PM #16
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

Keep in mind the IRS requirements for cash paynents ... you threw out some big numbers that would require a 1099.

What happens if you don't tip? Will services be witheld? Sounds more like an expectation than a gift.

Dec 11, 2012 11:09 PM #17
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

If I live in an apartment with a concierge or doorman, I am tipping big to stay in his or her good graces throughout the year. My mother always said that it is more important to be nice to the secretary than the boss, and it applies here, too!

Dec 12, 2012 12:12 AM #18
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

At the minimum these people should get a acknowledgment of some sort. Sees candy or some home baked goodies?..I'm in

Dec 12, 2012 12:29 AM #19
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Bruce, Thank you enjoy the holidays!

Hi Randy, Yes the trash men work really hard. They are often forgotten.

Richard, Some people give really big tips. The staff may watch their kids, go beyond the call of duty, whatever, I give accordingly. I'm not as wealthy as some of my neighbors. Services willl not be witheld but you may get dirty looks,-) I've witheld from certain staff certain years if I was unhappy with them. I don't disagree with you about expectation. I live in a coop and know what they all get paid it is in our operating budget. They have a really good union IMHO good pay and benefits and have gone on strike before. They can do very well with tips too. My building has 350 apartments. Do the math :-)

Melissa, Very true. But the boss, the super (in my building he's called Building Manager) is important too.

Dec 12, 2012 12:33 AM #20
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Richie, Yes, lots of baked goodies and booze too.

Dec 12, 2012 12:41 AM #21
Gena Hatch
Keller Williams Realty - Carmel Valley, CA
Realtor, CHMS, CNS

Thanks for the post! I'm reminded of the experience of a friend. She wanted to move from one "very nice" building to a "very tony" building. As her application was being reviewed, she received a "wink and a nod" from her current super who later remarked that he had put in a good word for her with the super of the building that she wanted to move to - and supposedly he had the ear of some influential residents. She hadn't really thought about him as having any influence in the process, but she did after that. She said it was a good reminder to treat everyone with respect and be generous! Happy Holidays!


Dec 12, 2012 01:25 AM #22
Nancy Frimann
Eagle Ridge Realty/Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
California Real Estate Broker

IT all adds up...  I wonder if they share the amount of the tips with the others?  I only have to tip my mail delivery person, although a person left a box of candy in my mailbox last year, which my mail lady thought was for her.  Suddently, I have a new best friend!

Dec 12, 2012 03:29 AM #23
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Gena, Great story. Always treat everyone with respect. You never know who will help you. Oh yes, the supers know everyone and everything that's going on in their building and near by buildings. They wield power. They are a great source for listings too.

Nancy, LOL They only share when the tips are pooled. I'm sure they gossip about the people in the building and who gives what. In my building they have a big box at the front desk. The residents place envelopes in it. You see the staff checking the box all day. I like handing it to them in person.

Dec 12, 2012 04:09 AM #24
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This question comes up from time to time and it is good to have a guideline on how to show appreciate.

Dec 12, 2012 04:16 AM #25
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

I always have a problem with knowing how much to tip.  This is a great recommendation.  

Dec 12, 2012 04:49 AM #26
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Interesting post. I never would have thought of this. 

Dec 12, 2012 11:28 AM #27
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Mitchell, knowing what to tip is so difficult to know in some situations. What a great help to Manhattan Apartment Building residents to know what their Holiday Tipping Etiquette should be.


Dec 12, 2012 12:18 PM #28
Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON


It's always nice to remember those who have been kind and gone out of their way for us during the year.


Dec 12, 2012 12:59 PM #29
Lisa Hickling
Brampton, ON
I find that the bring out an almost pavlovian response in that everybody expects something on schedule and on budget. Maybe it's a radical thought but why not gift randomly throughout the year totally unexpectedly but memorably?
Dec 12, 2012 02:07 PM #30
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Mitchell - what a great post, and yes, everyone has these questions each yr.   Smart post which I'm sure will get a lot of hits (and does every yr).

Dec 12, 2012 06:48 PM #31
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I hope people will read your post and tip generously for the good service they receive  all year.

Dec 12, 2012 08:10 PM #32
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Mitchell J Hall

Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
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