Holiday tipping can be a daunting experience for a first-timer or someone without a ton of experience in the subtle nuances behind the process. BrickUnderground’s Holiday Tipping Guide gives a great overview of the tipping ritual and some handy ranges to keep in mind.
Here are a few more tips culled from my own personal experiences:
1. Keep a list.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I have a terrible memory. It’s difficult for me to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other key dates - let alone how much I tipped my super last year.
I remember in my first apartment, I accidentally missed tipping one of the doormen. Luckily, I realized my error sometime between Christmas and New Years, and was able to rectify the situation quickly without any bad feelings. Ever since then, I’ve kept a spreadsheet or running document to keep tabs on my holiday tipping year over year. This is a good idea for two reasons.
First, you’ll be able to remember everyone you tipped the year before, and make sure you’re not forgetting anyone and second, you’ll be able to keep track of exactly how much you gave to who – and whether or not you want to replicate that amount or increase it. It’s always a good idea to keep a running list – I guarantee that the building staff will be doing the same.
2. Spread the wealth (or lack of).
Tips are extremely important to the many doormen, supers, and building staff who keep our buildings running – so please don’t act like Scrooge.
While it’s okay to play favorites, I’m of the belief that you should tip everyone in your building no matter what. That being said, every tenant has a different financial situation and rest assured that people will understand that you’re giving what you can.
When I was living in my first apartment, for example, I was still in college and the doormen and super knew that. They certainly didn’t expect my tips to be as fat as the investment banker living down the hall.
At another point, I moved into a new apartment in the beginning of December. After all of the tips I doled out upon my move-in, I ended up tipping out the building staff a couple weeks later with slightly pared down amounts - and no one held it against me. If you find yourself in a similar situation, it’s completely okay to tip pro-rata or a fraction of what you would for a normal year – just use your judgment.
3. It’s true: Cash is king.
While a bottle of wine or holiday basket might be the appropriate gift for clients or work colleagues, these items do not translate to holiday tips to building staff. Leave your checkbook behind (unless you’re giving tips to the super to distribute to the staff) and make a quick trip to your bank to take out the appropriate amount of cash for your holiday tips. Place each tip in a white envelope – or for a more personal touch, include a simple holiday card and place the tip within the card.
Personally, I always had a hard time placing straight cash in an envelope--it always felt a little cold and impersonal to me. At the end of every holiday season, I always stock up on holiday cards for the following year. The stores are practically giving them away, and by the time next year’s holiday rolls around, I’m ready to go. They add an extra layer of personality, and it’s a great opportunity to scribble a brief note individually thanking each person for his/her hard work throughout the year.
Caren Maio is the CEO & Co-Founder of Nestio.com, a website that makes it easy for renters to collect and organize rental listings from any site. She currently lives downtown in a boutique elevator building that has ten coffee shops in a three-block radius (a feature she claims sealed the deal--but the washer-dryer didn't hurt either).
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BrickUnderground's 2011 Holiday Tipping Guide