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Here at BrickUnderground, we take holiday tipping very seriously. We know that coming up with the exact dollar amount to keep the doormen happy is a tricky business. One intrepid New Yorker has launched a free online tipping calculator to help you figure out the right tip for your situation. It takes into account the size of your building and its staff, how much your doorman makes, and how much more you'd like to give than your fellow residents.
"I live in a doorman building that's larger than most, so standard tipping advice didn't apply," explains Spencer Greenberg, who chairs an investment firm and runs Clearer Thinking, which provides tools to help with decision-making. "I struggled to figure out how much to tip, so this came from a very real need."
On his personal website, Greenberg has a devised a calculator that asks how many staffers you expect to tip in your building; how many apartments there are; how much more generous you'd like to be than your building's average resident; how much money your doorman makes in tips per year; the average annual salary of your building's doorman (or doormen); and how much (if anything) you tipped the building's staff last year.
"You really only need two numbers to figure out how to tip," says Greenberg. "You need to know how much the doorman or doorwoman makes, and what percentage the tips are on top of their salary." If you don't happen to have the inside scoop on your staff's salaries, the calculator can still give you an estimate based on average doorman salaries and tips. (The data for the averages comes from a variety of sources, including the New York Times, Curbed's tipping guide, and our very own tipping poll results from 2012 and 2013.)
The estimates seem to skew high—for an apartment in a 10-unit building with one staffer, it recommends doling out $704. But if you'd like a more affordable dose of reality, check out the above chart, which Greenberg put together based on responses from last year's tipping calculator—the vast majority of respondents say that they tip $100 or less per staff member. (This lines up with our estimated average of $25 to $100 per doorman, as well.) But if you're hoping for some special treatment in the new year? Maybe shelling out the extra cash is worth it.