Everything you need to know about holiday tips

Dining out, hotel housekeeping, even Amazon deliveries — saying "thank you" in the form of cash is rife with uncertainty. It's that age-old question: Whom do you tip and how much?

Fortunately, there are general rules for the dos and don'ts of leaving a tip throughout the year and over the holidays.

For example, at a restaurant, always tip the server 15 to 20 percent of the pretax amount. If you are out for drinks with friends, make sure you bring cash for the bartender — usually $1 or $2 per drink is acceptable.

If there's a restroom attendant, even if you don't need or want their help handing you a towel, tip 50 cents to $3. A coat room attendant should get $1 per coat and a valet should receive $2 to $5.

For all salons and barbershops, 15 percent to 20 percent of the bill is the norm. If you are traveling over the winter holiday, leave $2 to $5 per day in your hotel room with a note. Even just a simple "Thank you, housekeeping" goes a long way.

If you have a doorman, make sure to tip $1 to $4 for carrying any luggage and $1 or $2 for hailing a cab for you. And then tip 15 percent to 20 percent to your taxi driver.

Of course, it's always a good way to show your appreciation throughout the year by giving a little extra cash at the end of the year. That goes for your doorman as well your everyday coffee shop barista or dry cleaners. (Check out the chart below from The Emily Post Institute for a selection of some often-tipped people.)

It's also acceptable not to tip when you're getting gas, using a handyman or plumber or for furniture delivery, even during the holidays. Postal Service regulations only permit carriers to accept small tokens worth $20 or less, and many schools, health-care providers and other companies prohibit cash tips.

Whatever you give, be sure to include a handwritten card thanking that provider for their service. And then make a note for yourself on whom you tipped and how much. That way, you won't face the same anxiety next year.

Who to tip for the holidays

Gift type
Suggested value
Regular babysitter Cash Up to one evening’s pay and a small gift from your child(ren).
Day care provider Cash or a gift for each staff member who works with your child(ren). A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member who works with your child(ren) and a small gift from your child(ren).
Housekeeper Cash and/or a gift Up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift.
Nursing home employees A gift (not cash). Check company policy first. A gift that could be shared by the staff (flowers or food items).
Barber Cash or gift Up to the cost of one haircut or a gift.
Beauty salon staff Cash or gift depending on whether you tip well after each service. Up to the cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. Give individual cards or a small gift each for those who work on you.
Personal trainer Cash or gift Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
Dog walker Cash or gift Up to one week’s pay or a gift.
Personal caregiver Cash or gift Up to one week to one month’s salary or a gift.
Newspaper delivery person Cash or small gift $10-30 or a small gift
Mail carrier Small gift only Per United States Postal Service rules, carriers can only accept small gifts worth $20 or less.
Superintendent Cash or gift $20-80 or a gift.
Doorman Cash or gift $15-80. $15 or more each for multiple doormen, or a gift.
Handyman Cash or gift $15 to $40.
Trash/Recycling collectors Cash or gift (for private). Check city regulations if it is a municipal service. $10-30 each.
Yard/Garden worker Cash or gift $20-50 each.
SOURCE: The Emily Post Institute.