Who Should Get A Christmas Tip? And, Should You Stiff Your Mailman?

by Hank Coleman

Every year I write an article about how I am not going to tip my mail carrier for the holidays. I’m not a fan of tipping my mailman, garbage man, teachers, or a long list of folks. I typically take a lot of heat in the comment section for my anti-Christmas tipping philosophy.

There are several reasons that I refrain from tipping certain people in my life like my mailman, but there are those that I go out of my way to tip such as my housekeeper, my barber, and my guitar instructor.

A List Of Popular Holiday Tipping

Every year the major publications publish their lists of holiday tips and holiday tipping guide on how you should consider giving to these people in your life during Christmas and the holidays. The following are part of the holiday tipping guide that appears originally in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

  • Baby Sitter - One to two nights’ pay is about right for a baby sitter
  • Cleaning Person - The cost of one visit is considered fitting
  • Dog Walker - Tip your regular dog walker up to a week’s pay.
  • Hairstylist - The normal cost of a visit would be a nice tip for a stylist you see regularly.
  • Letter Carrier - The U.S. Postal Service forbids mail carriers from accepting cash, and says gifts must be under $20 in value.
  • Newspaper Delivery Person - Consider giving $10 to $30, unless you tip regularly throughout the year.
  • Nursing Home Worker - A personal gift such as homemade cookies or fudge
  • Personal Trainer - $50 or up to the cost of a session
  • Your Child’s Teacher - Small gift, accompanied by a note or drawing by your child
  • Trash Collectors - Tip each of your trash $10 to $30.

People I Personally Hired Get A Christmas Tip

One rule of thumb that I use in my own holiday tipping guide is whether or not I hired the person. I typically do not give a holiday tip to my garbage man, mail carrier, teacher, and the like.

I do enjoy giving a holiday gift or tip to people that I have hired to help me such as my housekeeper, gardener, guitar instructor who gives me lessons, and others. I really wanted the services that these people provide, and that is why I sought them out to hire them. These are the types of people that I give a holiday tip to during Christmas time.

Those Whose Salaries Depend On Tips

I am a big proponent of tipping people whose salary predominantly depend on receiving tips. Those of course are people whose jobs are food servers, hair dressers, and the like. These are the people who need tips or extra tips during the holidays. These are the people with jobs that we should support with other additional tips.

Your mailman does not need a holiday tip. He or she make enough as it is. Even the independent contractors who deliver rural mail earn 100% of their salary from their salary, and no tips are expected. If your mail carrier goes above and beyond the call of duty such as checking on the elderly and the like, then there may be a reason for a tip during the holidays.

Maybe my mail carrier is an innocent bystander who is caught up in my dislike for the USPS and the actual post office’s service. There is a reason why they require a bailout from the federal government every year thanks to their leadership’s poor mismanagement. But, I digress…

What about you? Are you giving your mail carrier a holiday tip this year? How much are you giving? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Go ahead…I’ve got thick skin.

Share the Love
Get Free Updates

About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.

Hank Coleman has written 525 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

Subscribe To Money Q&A

If you want to learn more about taking back control of your money please subscribe to Money Q&A’s RSS feed or via email to receive all the latest articles! You can also subscribe to our Free Weekly Newsletter.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }


Agree. I have never even seen my mail carrier or garbagemen, and as I live in the city, it could be a different person every couple of days or weeks. Therefore, I’m not planning on tipping them.


Financial Samurai

Man, the US postal service has it TOUGH nowadays! I think they lost like $18 billion or something this fiscal year.

How do I actually tip my mailman if I never see them though?
Financial Samurai recently posted..Bank With The Highest Savings Interest Rate: CIT Bank ReviewMy Profile


Hank Coleman

Sam, would you tip him or her if you saw him every day? Would that make a difference in your holiday tipping?
Hank Coleman recently posted..Infographic: Money Questions We All AskMy Profile


L Bee and the Money Tree

This cleared up a lot of things for me, especially since this is the first year I have anyone to tip. Thanks!
L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..100th Post Celebration-The Best of L Bee and the Money TreeMy Profile


Hank Coleman

L Bee,

Who are you planning on tipping this year?
Hank Coleman recently posted..Infographic: Money Questions We All AskMy Profile


John S @ Frugal Rules

Could not agree more. We’ll not be tipping the mail man. He’s doing his job, and not very well at that might I add. ;) They get paid good money and to drive around stuffing mail in mailboxes. Now, if it’s someone I’ve hired or who depend on tips then I’ll definitely consider it.
John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..4 Minutes That Changed My Life Forever II, a Thoughtful ThanksgivingMy Profile


Hank Coleman

I think that mail carriers who drive their routes around town get a bad rap because of those USPS employees who work inside the post office at the customer service desk.
Hank Coleman recently posted..Infographic: Money Questions We All AskMy Profile



I actually agree with you. I think tipping has gotten out of control. And I think your “did I hire them or not?” is a good rule of thumb with some exceptions. I do live in a building and will tip people accordingly—the super, the doorman (though my future residence doesn’t have one), the porter, etc.

Behind-the-scenes people who do a lot of the work will never see a tip. And I really don’t feel comfortable tipping a garbage man or mail carrier, who in my area both make more money than I do. (Then again, in my areas many servers and hairstylists make a lot more than I do as well.)
thethriftyspendthrift recently posted..Finding a Second JobMy Profile


Hank Coleman

You bring up a great point that things are a lot different around the country where something that is the norm in NYC is not the same in Charleston, SC or Fargo, ND.
Hank Coleman recently posted..Infographic: Money Questions We All AskMy Profile


Gary Sharkey

Do your research a little more thoroughly there, Hank.. The USPS has NEVER taken a federal bailout, much less every year as you claim.


Hank Coleman

Oh come on, Gary. They are subsidized every year by the government and every year they run at a loss and need government help to stay a going concern. In 2013, the US Postal Service losses reached $3.9B!! It’s not a bailout in the 2008 financial collapse sense of the phrase. It’s a bailout of another name. But, a bailout is still a bailout. In 2012, the USPS lost almost $16 billion, hit its own legal borrowing limit, and defaulted twice on required payments to the government. The Postal Service loses over $25 million every day and has turned to the government for help regularly.
Hank Coleman recently posted..Taking On Your First Employee In Your BusinessMy Profile


Gary Sharkey

Sorry Hank, but you’re not getting off that easy. In 2006, Congress required USPS to prefund future retiree health benefits seventy years into the future, something no other Gov’t or private company was required to do. This was because USPS was profitable at that time, and was used as a cash cow. With out this prefunding, USPS would be a break even operation. And not a dime of tax payer money has been used toward the Postal Service in over forty years. Suggest you look it up.



Having been a letter carrier for 36 years,I feel if a carrier goes above and beyond to serve the customer,than they deserve a tip.I never said no to anyone if they wanted me to buy stamps for them.If a customer needed one stamp,I gave them one out of my wallet.no charge.If it were raining,I put their parcels in a plastic bag to protect them from getting wet.The list is endless.I am now retired and can look back on my career with satisfaction knowing I always gave my customers good service with a smile.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: