Etiquette Guru Thomas Farley Breaks Down Who Should Get What

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Holiday tipping is a decision that confounds, confuses and even annoys people this time of year.

Steve Hobbs of Darien, Conn., said he tries to be generous.

“They take care of me all year and that’s why I do it. I think it’s part of life. You have to treat people nicely and it pays off,” Hobbs said.

But exactly how much should we tip our doormen, porters, supers, dog walkers, nannies, hairstylists, personal trainers and more?

To find out what is appropriate CBS 2’s Dave Carlin went to etiquette expert Thomas Farley.

“If you want to wind somebody up, talk about tips. Everybody has an opinion. You don’t want to be seen as too generous and make everybody else in the neighborhood look bad, but you also don’t want to be the neighborhood cheapskate. So consult with people in the area,” Farley said.

Farley’s recommendations for city dwellers in doorman buildings may sound steep to some.

“You’re looking at $100 to $200 in a typical New York City living situation, and you tip every single doorman in the building,” Farley said.

Meghann Kelley is among those who said that is on the high side.

“It definitely gets overwhelming. We try to stick to $40 to $50 for each doorman and we do a little more for a super,” Kelly said.

Farley said you must shell out the most for anyone who cares for your elderly loved one or your children.

“For a babysitter, it is the cost of one night or one week of babysitting, if you use the babysitter regularly. For a Nanny, it is one week up to one month of service if the nanny is a live-in,” Farley said.

For delivery people, including the ones who regularly bring your laundry or newspapers, they should get about $20 each.

And Farley suggested anywhere from $15-$50 for parking attendants.

For hairstylists, dog groomers and landscapers, Farley’s formula is easy to remember.

“The cost of one visit is your end of year tip,” he said.

“You’ve got a stylist who gets your blond just right and you pay $500 per visit, you can afford the same amount for a tip. Conversely, if you’re going to a $6 barber it’s commensurate with what you are going to be tipping,” he added.

Farley’s most affordable tipping recommendation involves the people who deliver our mail.

“Letter carriers cannot accept any money period, so they can accept anything that is gift of value $20 or less. It can be baked goods or a gift card,” Farley said.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

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