Holiday Tipping Etiquette Who Gets How Much?

Whether you live in a suburb or in the heart of the city, life is expensive—and these days, with inflation on the rise and so many reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic, it can seem like every time you step out your door, a leak opens up in your wallet and money just starts trickling out. In addition to higher prices overall, tip jars are everywhere this time of year, sometimes decorated with winsome appeals for change, and sometimes just sitting there expectantly, waiting for you to pony up. 

The holiday season compounds the issue: there are gifts to be bought, travel to be booked, gatherings to attend, relatives to deal with… and of course this year marks COVID Holidays: Season 2, which only adds to the anxiety that many of us already feel when we try to figure out what kind of tip to give the people who make our everyday life a little easier: our building and HOA staff. 

Building superintendents, chief engineers, maintenance persons, and handymen often find themselves under sinks or in dark basements at odd hours, patching leaky pipes or coaxing temperamental water heaters back to life. Clearly, a reward for work well done is a welcome gift, especially at this time of year, and especially considering all the stress, additional duties, and staffing shortages many building and HOA workers have experienced since the pandemic hit. 

While building staff in colder climates shovel snow, scatter salt, and do a score of other tasks made that much harder by winter weather, Sunshine State staff members deal with heat, humidity, and the occasional hurricane—maybe they’ve even had to deal with a gator in the swimming pool. Regardless of the temperature, doormen and lobby attendants wait patiently, ready to help you with your shopping bags or sign for your Amazon (and FedEx, and DHL, and DoorDash, and GoPuff, get the idea) deliveries. At this time of year, it’s not only customary to show your appreciation for the work your building or association staff does for you and your neighbors—it’s just plain good manners.

Why Tip?

“But,” you may ask, “why tip at all? Opening the door and helping residents out is the doorman’s job—he or she gets a salary already.” A good point, and one that bears closer examination. In North America, the word “TIPS” in modern parlance is actually an acronym for “To Insure Prompt Service,” and the list of people who are commonly tipped includes hair and nail salon workers, bellhops, cab drivers, newspaper delivery people, porters, valets, bartenders, and of course, restaurant wait staff.


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