While gift-giving should be a joyous activity, holiday tipping is very often fraught with anxiety for most New Yorkers, especially when it is for someone with whom you have daily, personal contact – your doorman. But do not despair. I, the doorman whisperer, have gone straight to the source and surveyed the recipients in question and I bring you…
Pass On Papyrus
With the exception of a drawing by your child who is BFF with the door person, a card is only a vehicle for your gratuity and doesn’t need to be fancy. The doormen surveyed said that a personal note is nice to receive, but no need to spend $7.95 on a glittery hallmark card (they'd rather have the extra dough)
Forget what you learned in Little League - everyone doesn't get a trophy. If you have that one “rockstar” doorperson that will even help you with an unreachable zipper on your way out the door – you know it. Then there's the grinch doorman that steals fries from you Grubhub order. There is no way that their tips should be equal and they don't expect them to be. Try to give at least a small amount even to the underachievers, and focus your generosity where it is deserved.
Cookies are NOT not a substitute for a cash tip. Holidays are expensive for everyone. Doormen need to buy presents too so tipping early in the season is always thoughtful.
Just Own it
Some feel that owners should tip more than renters, but I choose to differ. Perhaps renters have less concern for the longterm maintenance of the building, or don't feel as invested in forging a relationship with the staff, because they are moving out in a few months. However, this was your home this year and assuming you were given the same services as all of the other residents, you should tip accordingly.
Like a Fine Wine
Buildings typically distribute a holiday card on December 1 with a list names and photos of all doorman, often in order of seniority. This is understandably accompanied by extra cheerful attitudes from all the staff for the next few weeks, hint hint. While it's customary to tip seasoned doormen a bit more than a new employee, especially if you have been living in the building for ages, my sources tell me most people allot their tips based upon the quality of service and relationship.
According to our polls, here is what others tipped last year on average:
Doorman - $100 minimum. Unless you have 25 doormen in which case they will be receiving tips from hundreds of residents so you can tone it down (some residents of small, high-end buildings reported up to $1,000)
Handyman/Porter - $50 plus (try not to give anyone less than $50 in NYC. Exception if you have a huge staff and/or have never seen this person in your life)
Super - $200 plus (up to thousands if he/she is a lifesaver)
This will vary for each building so feel free to message me for a more specific suggestion.
Especially if your building is small, err on the high end per person so the doormen can make a decent bonus in the end.
Everyone has a bad year from time to time, and your guys will get that. Just don't play the “broke” card if you're parading in from your vacation in the Maldives or a shopping spree at Bergdorfs.
What's at Stake Here
While they won't admit to punishing bad tippers, we all know that doormen talk...to the other doormen on the block, delivery personnel, and inquisitive real estate agents. Your building staff knows the intimate details of your life from bad recycling habits to who you're bringing home at 3 am. So you should never miss the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of loyalty and respect. Plus, a tip is a tangible acknowledgment that you see and value a year’s worth of their daily efforts on your behalf.
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