Holiday Time: How Much Money Should I Really Be Spending on People?

A 💸 guide for the conscientious girl.

As much as we love holiday time (cookies, twinkly lights, infinite cocktail hours...), there are some things (like budgets) we don't love quite so much. And while gift-giving is great/fun/exciting and it's the thought that counts and all that jazz, sometimes you just want to know—straight up—how much is the appropriate amount to spend for everyone on your list.

According to social payment app Circle, 61 percent of Millennials are willing to spend up to $100 on their closest friends for the holidays. But while that's fine and dandy, the real toughies are your mail carrier, your coworkers, your landlord...the people who make your life possible—and maybe don't get the regular thank-yous they deserve. Here, millennial expert and Circle spokesperson Chelsea Krost has your guide.

Mail Carriers and Newspaper Deliverers: $10 to $20

Interesting tidbit: Since mail carriers are federal employees, there are strict rules on what they can and cannot accept. They can't accept anything valued over $20, cash, or gift cards that can be redeemed for cash. (Merchant gift cards—AKA gift cards from a retailer like a coffee shop or Target—are fine, as long as they're not Amex or other such "use anywhere" cards). Krost recommends something in the range of $10 to $20, like tickets to your local movie theater or an insulated mug with a gift card to Starbucks.

Supers or Landlords: $30 to $100

"Up to $100 is right on target for a rockstar landlord you want to show appreciation for," says Krost. "Or consider tantalizing your landlord with homemade brownies instead!"


(Image credit: GETTY)

Doorman: $30 to $100

"Depending on the building, your rent amount, and your rapport with your doorman, tipping over the holidays varies. If you are unsure, consult with a friendly neighbor to price compare," says Krost. "Want to be extra thoughtful? Grab a card, tell them you appreciate all they do, and surprise them with some cash inside. Everyone loves a handwritten note."

Dry Cleaner: $10

"Bring in a cup of joe or a dozen cookies next time you're dropping off or picking up," says Krost.

Trash Collector: $20

Cash is preferred, but be sure to check guidelines, warns Krost. "Many municipal services don't allow tipping. If that's the case, stick to things that they would enjoy—like a mug or a holiday candle."

Teachers or Professors: $20 to $50

"If you're looking for a gift for your child's teacher, skip out on the apple and send them along with useful supplies for the classroom," says Krost. "For college professors, gifts aren't really a thing. Instead, a thoughtful note on how much you appreciate learning from them will do the trick."

Coworkers: $10 to $40

"Age-old wisdom has taught up that it's not polite to give unless you can give to everyone. Apply the same etiquette during the holidays at work," says Krost. "Suggest a cookie swap in lieu of gifts or treat the team to the first round of drinks at happy hour. This is one time where 'keeping it casual' is recommended." Want to skip the cookies or drinks? Try a handwritten card and a donation to a charity in their name.

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Samantha Leal
Senior Editor

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.