Brick Underground’s best advice on holiday tipping in NYC buildings

By Brick Underground  | December 19, 2019 - 9:00AM

Here's the collective wisdom of Brick Underground on navigating the practice of tipping building staff during the holiday season.


Around the winter holidays are when owners and renters tip New York City building staff, and if you’re not used to the practice (and even if you are), it can feel a bit weird. Feelings aside, you’re expected to tip in NYC, so ignore it at your own risk. That’s because the staffers you depend on to take your trash to the curb, safeguard your packages, and much more, depend on it.

But the rules around tipping aren’t clear and New Yorkers don’t really like to talk about how much and who they tip. That’s where Brick Underground comes in—our Holiday Tipping Guide is updated every year (since 2013) to address new issues (like the torrent of food and shopping deliveries) and concerns about the practice of tipping the doorman, super, porter, and other building staffers. Check it out for guidelines on the dollar amounts, the best ways to handover a tip, and what to do in specific scenarios, like if you have had a financial setback this year.

But wait, there’s more—a lot more. Want to see how much your fellow New Yorkers are tipping this year? Check out Brick Underground’s Annual Tipping Poll, which shows how much people tip as owners in doorman vs. non-doorman buildings, and renters in doorman vs. non-doorman buildings. Want to weigh in? You can add your two cents as well. So far this year, over 700 New Yorkers have cast their vote and revealed what they are planning to do.

What do tip in a luxury building?

High-end buildings have more staff—as one broker who lives in a luxury rental says, “There is the handyman, the morning concierge, the afternoon concierge, the morning doorman, the afternoon doorman, the weekend doorman. We really have a lot of people,” she says. In Brick Underground’s “Holiday tipping in NYC luxury buildings, explained,” we explain who and how to tip when you rent or own in a luxury building.

What if you don’t tip?

You might still be wondering what happens to New Yorkers who don’t tip. The short answer: Don't expect lots of smiles, or favors. In Brick Underground’s article “What happens to bad tippers in NYC apartment buildings” we looked at the consequences of being a Grinch. 

How do tipping polls work?

Some buildings take a different approach and have a tipping pool. If you’re thinking of organizing one, however, proceed with caution. They don’t always work out as planned, namely, big tippers avoid them in order get recognition and credit from the staff. For more on how these play out, read “Tipping pools: How they work and who they work for.”

Can renters tip less?

What are the expectations for renters? Our polls show that yes, renters tip less than owners: Last year, 30 percent of renters in non-doorman buildings said they would tip nothing, while another 52 percent of renters in non-doorman buildings said they would tip under $250. For more, check out “NYC renters tip less than owners. Here's how much.”

What do doorman think is a good amount?

Brick Underground asked, and naturally it depends on the size of your building and what neighborhood you are in. We’ve got the details in “Doormen speak: What's a good holiday tip, the best cash alternatives, the best time to tip, and more.” Plus, what they really think of the cookies you bake them. Similarly, porter sounds off on tipping in “An open letter from your porter during the holidays.”

Paying for small jobs vs. a big holiday tip

Ms. Demeanor, our resident etiquette expert who lives in an Upper East Side co-op, explains how she handles holiday tipping and paying building staff in “How much do I pay my super for small jobs around my NYC apartment?” She also addresses a thorny question: "My super is suing our building. Can I skip his holiday tip?"

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