Manhattan Condos - New Developments - Conversions - Resales: Manhattan Apartment Building Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Manhattan Apartment Building Holiday Tipping Etiquette

Every year around this time, I am asked about New York City holiday tipping etiquette, especially for Manhattan apartment building staff.

Here is my take on the situation:

So many ask, “why tip at all for someone who is merely doing his job?” An additional reward for work well done is a welcome gift. It is good manners, and customary to show one’s appreciation by giving a little something extra during the holiday as a way to say “thank you”.

Apthorp Upper West Side Doorman


Keep in mind the following factors in determining what to give:

  • how pleased are you with the service
  • the frequency of the service
  • how long you’ve known the person
  • your budget
  • the local custom
  • the type of establishment (deluxe vs. moderate building)The following are ranges of suggested gratuities:
  • Apartment Building Superintendents: $25 - $1000. There is a wide range here depending on the services offered by your building and how much the staff are at your beck-and-call during the year.
  • Doormen/Concierge: $25 and up Take into consideration how nice they are to you, if you get lots of visitors and deliveries, and if they actually open the door for you. To maintain a level of quality service, you need to pay for it.

Claude my favorite Doorman

Porters: $15- $50 These people have a difficult and sometimes unpleasant job. If you spilled Styrofoam packaging stuffers in your hallway or incinerator room, you owe it to your custodian to remember.

Handyman: $15 - $50 This is an instance where your tip can be proportionate to the amount of the work you’ve requested during the year. If you merely greet the handyman in the hall, the lower end of the range should suffice. If you’ve gotten him out of bed in the middle of the night to repair a gushing water leak, ask yourself how much such a task is worth to you and show your appreciation accordingly.

  • There is a long list of other people to remember during the holidays-garage attendants,  personal trainers, housekeepers, babysitters, stylists, etc., and the range of what is considered appropriate is wide and left mostly to personal judgement.

Regardless of the cash value of any gift, however, it is important that a gratuity be given as a present. Include a nice card with a hand written note and deliver it personally. Cash is appreciated, rather than checks. In what can seem like an uncivilized city, it is important to remember to make a gesture of appreciation to those who make your life easier. The holiday season is the perfect time to do so.



©Mitchell Hall 2006-2019

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Comment balloon 31 commentsMitchell J Hall • December 12 2012 04:35AM


Great tips on tipping in Manhattan............I remember those days well and wish I were still there.  I have a feeling you and I would be hanging out having a "Holiday Cocktail" somewhere fabulous.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 7 years ago

Hey Mitchell.....

Graditude for NO attitude is always welcome for so many there to make our days better

Posted by Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR, SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038) almost 7 years ago

Good morning Mitchell. What a thorough and thoughtful post. The information is well presented and appreciated I'm sure.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 7 years ago

Hi Mitchell: Must remember to include the newspaper delivery person.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) almost 7 years ago

Good morning Roger, Thank you. It's early but I can use a coctail already,-) Love to share holiday cheer with you.

Dan, I love that! How about Attitude gets NO gratitude also ,-)

Good morning Sheila, Thank you. I wasn't even finished posting/editing and I got comments and a feature already WOW! I just this minute took the piucture of my doorman Claude getting a car for my neighbor.


Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Hella, Good tip. I still see papers in front of some of my neighbor's doors. I personally swithed from home delivery to online and mobile delivery of NY Times a while ago. I've gone paperless,-)

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Hi Mitchell, great post about tipping. They all do not have an easy job but they make it look easy. I wouldn't want to stand for 8 hours a day opening doors. They deserve those tips.

Posted by Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, "Moving at The Speed of YOU!" (Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY) almost 7 years ago

This was always an issue when I lived in apartment buidings in Manhattan. We usually did a pool, then the total got divvied up among the various employees.  That way no-one got overlooked as these gifts were quite expected.

Posted by Olga Simoncelli, CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management (Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Hi Jackie, Years ago my doormen complained about opening the door for 8 hours so we got them electronic doors. They still greet you, get cabs and announce visitors.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Hi Olga, I prefer that method. We used to do it by pool but people in my building wanted to give the ones they like more than others. Everyone has their favorite.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Hi Mitchell,  What a great post!  Having grown up in New York, this is so familiar to me.  These people work hard all year long and deserve some recognition at holiday time.  I just did this for my parents.  

Posted by Elyse Berman, PA, Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR (Best Connections Realty, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Hi Elyse. Thank you. Hope all is well in Boca and I hope you're enjoying the holiday season in sunny Florida.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

I saw this on Facebook Service without attitude is what caught my eye ! Really good post one often wonders what to give during the Holidays!


Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) almost 7 years ago

Hi Hannah, Thanks, I say give what you can. It's the thought that counts.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Thanks, Mitchell.  This is always a decision and having some guidelines is a big help. Showing appreciation (monetarily or otherwise) is always appreciated.

Enjoy your holidays!


Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) almost 7 years ago

I tip the trash man every year at Christmas. That guy was out on Christmas Eve one year smiling his tail off and working hard.

Posted by Randy Bocook, Selling Coastal Georgia (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) almost 7 years ago

Keep in mind the IRS requirements for cash paynents ... you threw out some big numbers that would require a 1099.

What happens if you don't tip? Will services be witheld? Sounds more like an expectation than a gift.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) almost 7 years ago

If I live in an apartment with a concierge or doorman, I am tipping big to stay in his or her good graces throughout the year. My mother always said that it is more important to be nice to the secretary than the boss, and it applies here, too!

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) almost 7 years ago

At the minimum these people should get a acknowledgment of some sort. Sees candy or some home baked goodies?..I'm in

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Hi Bruce, Thank you enjoy the holidays!

Hi Randy, Yes the trash men work really hard. They are often forgotten.

Richard, Some people give really big tips. The staff may watch their kids, go beyond the call of duty, whatever, I give accordingly. I'm not as wealthy as some of my neighbors. Services willl not be witheld but you may get dirty looks,-) I've witheld from certain staff certain years if I was unhappy with them. I don't disagree with you about expectation. I live in a coop and know what they all get paid it is in our operating budget. They have a really good union IMHO good pay and benefits and have gone on strike before. They can do very well with tips too. My building has 350 apartments. Do the math :-)

Melissa, Very true. But the boss, the super (in my building he's called Building Manager) is important too.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Richie, Yes, lots of baked goodies and booze too.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Thanks for the post! I'm reminded of the experience of a friend. She wanted to move from one "very nice" building to a "very tony" building. As her application was being reviewed, she received a "wink and a nod" from her current super who later remarked that he had put in a good word for her with the super of the building that she wanted to move to - and supposedly he had the ear of some influential residents. She hadn't really thought about him as having any influence in the process, but she did after that. She said it was a good reminder to treat everyone with respect and be generous! Happy Holidays!


Posted by Gena Hatch, Realtor, CHMS, CNS (Keller Williams Realty) almost 7 years ago

IT all adds up...  I wonder if they share the amount of the tips with the others?  I only have to tip my mail delivery person, although a person left a box of candy in my mailbox last year, which my mail lady thought was for her.  Suddently, I have a new best friend!

Posted by Nancy Frimann, California Real Estate Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty/Signature Homes & Estates) almost 7 years ago

Hi Gena, Great story. Always treat everyone with respect. You never know who will help you. Oh yes, the supers know everyone and everything that's going on in their building and near by buildings. They wield power. They are a great source for listings too.

Nancy, LOL They only share when the tips are pooled. I'm sure they gossip about the people in the building and who gives what. In my building they have a big box at the front desk. The residents place envelopes in it. You see the staff checking the box all day. I like handing it to them in person.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 7 years ago

This question comes up from time to time and it is good to have a guideline on how to show appreciate.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 7 years ago

I always have a problem with knowing how much to tip.  This is a great recommendation.  

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) almost 7 years ago

Mitchell, knowing what to tip is so difficult to know in some situations. What a great help to Manhattan Apartment Building residents to know what their Holiday Tipping Etiquette should be.


Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 7 years ago


It's always nice to remember those who have been kind and gone out of their way for us during the year.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 7 years ago
I find that the bring out an almost pavlovian response in that everybody expects something on schedule and on budget. Maybe it's a radical thought but why not gift randomly throughout the year totally unexpectedly but memorably?
Posted by Lisa Hickling almost 7 years ago

Mitchell - what a great post, and yes, everyone has these questions each yr.   Smart post which I'm sure will get a lot of hits (and does every yr).

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 7 years ago

I hope people will read your post and tip generously for the good service they receive  all year.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 7 years ago