They work hard for you all through the year, but you may not even know their name. The people who make life easier for New Yorkers and other city-dwellers are some of the unsung heroes of the service industry. One of the best ways to show your appreciation for the person who opens your building’s door for you, or helps tote your packages up to your 33rd-floor apartment when the elevator breaks down, is to repay their efforts with a little extra cash for the holidays. It’s not required, of course, but during this season of giving, it can only help improve your relationship with them – and help to guarantee they’ll be willing to help you the following year.
(Editor’s note: This story was first published in 2014, and has been updated annually since.)
Although it seems like a fairly simple ritual, the question of “how much?” is often the most daunting part of holiday tipping, especially to people who are new to the city or living in a large building. Fortunately, The Modern Agent has done the “heavy lifting” for you this year, by researching typical and accepted tipping practices for all of the people who make your New York City life a little bit easier.
- Building staff might include housekeepers, doormen, concierges, maintenance workers, or janitorial staff. A good rule is to dole out holiday tips to the individual members of building staff according to 15 percent of what you pay per month. For instance, if your rent or mortgage is $3,000 per month, a portion of $450 to split between individuals.
- If you live in a large building with numerous staff members, it’s perfectly acceptable to give a little less to each person. However, if you live in a small building, the opposite is true.
- It’s customary to tip the doorman $40-$100 for the holidays, even if you tip them often through the year.
- A helpful handyman/woman who helps around the apartment should get between $20-$50 for their services.
- If your building has a porter who sees to it that your bags get where they need to go, give that person between $20-$40 as a holiday gift.
- The building super should get the largest tip; between $50-$150 is acceptable, depending on the size of your building.
- Don’t forget the mailman! Or if you do most of your shopping online, your friendly neighborhood package delivery person. The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t encourage gift-giving to postal carriers, and in fact, forbids them from taking anything valued at more than $20. Instead, they recommend giving gift cards or baked goods, but not cash. FedEx allows their drivers to accept gifts – not cash – of less than $75, and UPS would prefer non-monetary gifts.
All of the suggestions for tipping are of course subject to your own feeling of how well you felt the staff took care of your needs and provided a comfortable and safe environment for you to live in. If you really feel they’ve gone above and beyond, a personal note accompanying your cash gift is a nice touch. Plus, it will encourage them to remember your name – and your tip.