Renter’s guide to holiday tipping

Published: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 3:18 p.m. CDT

The holiday season is here. There are gifts to buy and parties to go to, and your cash is getting tight. Then someone asks how much you are planning to tip your super. Forgot all about that, didn’t you?

Now that you are living on your own, add holiday tipping to the list of apartment expenses you’ll need to budget for. Having roommates once again provides a budgetary silver lining — you can all chip in for the tips. But whom should you tip and how much to give? Here are some guidelines for showing appreciation in the form of a tip during the holiday season:

Super/handyman

If you have an attentive super and a great handyman (and often it’s the same person), you know just how valuable this person can be, especially if they’ve helped you with a major apartment-related headache this past year. Consider giving a tip of $50-$100, on the higher end if there are four of you sharing the apartment. Even if your super is frequently MIA, and your handyman is, um, less than handy, don’t forgo a holiday tip totally. A small tip may speed things up in the coming year, so still consider giving something.

Doorman

Doormen serve an important function: They protect your home by screening visitors, they sign for packages, hold mail and keys, help you solve minor emergencies, hail taxis and discreetly guide you to the elevator after a long night with your fraternity brothers. These are people you want on your side. So if you’re lucky enough to have a doorman, a holiday tip is not optional. Depending on your area and the quality of your building, expect to give anywhere from $25-$75 per doorman.

Cleaner/housekeeper

This one’s another no-brainer. If you can afford a house cleaner to scrub your floors and bathrooms and keep your place sanitary, show this person that you appreciate their hard work. The customary way to do this is to double their pay for their last cleaning session before the holidays.

All this customary tipping adds up to quite a bit of money, especially if you have no roommates to share the expense. So what to do if you absolutely, positively have no money for tips? Maybe you just lost your job or your company did not give any bonuses this year. A heart-felt, handwritten thank-you note, delivered with a smile and a plate of home-baked cookies goes a long way with your super and doorman! People who provide you with valuable services will appreciate your thoughtful gesture, however small, during the holiday season and will remember it throughout the new year.

Related:

MyFirstApartment.com helps novice renters successfully navigate the first year of living on their own. The blog shares proven tips and tricks for everything from finding the perfect rental or roommate, to furnishing on a small budget or no budget, to dealing with landlords or roommate’s girlfriends.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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