Finance

Got “tipping fatigue”? Here are some tips on how much to give for the holidays.

Seemingly ubiquitous requests for tips may be dampening Americans’ generosity.

As of November, service-sector workers in non-restaurant leisure and hospitality jobs made an average of $1.28 an hour in tips, down 7% from the $1.38 an hour they made a year ago, according to Gusto, a payroll and benefits company. The decline comes as the advent of mobile payment technology spreads tipping, once generally reserved for places like restaurants and beauty salons, to many stores, gyms and even automated kiosks. 

Around the holidays, many service employees, including delivery people, building staff, cleaners and teachers, have come to rely on tips to tide them over what can be an expensive period. “Tipping fatigue,” as some are calling the frustration with constant prompts, has also been aggravated by inflation and a slowdown in wage growth. 

“People are facing higher prices and are seeing their own paychecks slow, so they are tipping less in places where it wasn’t previously expected,” Luke Pardue, an economist at Gusto, told CBS MoneyWatch

Perhaps not surprisingly, consumers are more likely to tip people with whom they interact regularly. 

“Holiday tips are different, because these tend to be people we see a lot, who come into our homes to clean or watch kids. They are people you have a relationship with, versus a nameless transaction in which someone hands you a sandwich and you wonder what you’re tipping for,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.

Not everyone is feeling stingier. A recent survey from Bankrate found that 15% of Americans plan to increase their annual holiday tip amounts this year compared to 2022. The most generous gratuities were expected to go to housekeepers and child care providers, with a median tip of $50, up from $40 and $25, respectively, the prior year.

How much should I give?

Still, confusion looms around tipping etiquette, including whom to reward and how much it’s appropriate to leave. Dana Buckley, a salesperson with real estate firm Brown Harris Stevens, suggested the following guidelines for various workers.

  • Superintendent or resident manager: $100-$500
  • Doorman or concierge: $50-$250
  • Maintenance staff: $50-$150
  • Garage attendant: $50-$75
  • Housekeeper: 1-2 weeks’ pay
  • Full-time nanny: 1-2 weeks’ pay
  • Dog walker: 1 weeks’ pay
  • Garbage collector: $15-$20

Rossman suggests rewarding workers who have gone above and beyond the scope of the job, especially because it can lead to more exceptional service in the new year. And if you can’t afford to tip everyone who works for you, make a list of those you think are most deserving of a little something extra, he added. 

“Put an informal ranked order together,” Rossman said. “If you can’t tip everybody, who are those one or two or three people who really went above and beyond?”

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