The holiday season is a great time for giving – not only to our families and friends, but also to the people who help make our lives a whole lot easier throughout the year! These unsung heroes, including teachers, cleaners, assistants, delivery people, and so many others, are often taken for granted, so a gift or tip during the holiday season is the perfect way to let them know that you appreciate all the hard work they do!
Even if you’d like to give a little something to your favorite service people, it can be hard to know when it is appropriate to give a gift rather than a tip, or even how much you should give. So to help streamline things a bit, I’ve put together these simple guidelines you can refer to for your holiday giving. Of course, these are only suggestions, and should be adapted to your personal financial situations.
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Your Letter Carrier
Your letter carrier brings you something nearly every day throughout the year, so it is only fair to return the gesture! Letter carriers cannot accept cash, or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash. But what they CAN accept are gifts valued at $20 or less! So if you’d like to give your letter carrier a gift card, just check the fine print first to make sure that it can’t be exchanged for cash. Another good option would be to offer them a box or plate of homemade goodies!
Your Child-Care Worker
Your child-care worker is definitely someone you want to make sure knows how much you appreciate their hard work, so a handwritten thank-you card would be a lovely gesture! A cash tip wouldn’t go amiss either, since many daycare workers aren’t highly paid. Just make sure to check your daycare center’s website to see if they have a tipping or gift policy.
If you see the same hair stylist multiple times a year, you’ve probably formed a pretty close relationship with them! You can show your appreciation for their services by doubling your usual tip during your holiday haircut. Just place it in an envelope with a signed card, so they’re aware that it’s your gift to them.
Your Child’s Teacher
Elementary school teachers have a hard job, and it’s nice to let them know that you appreciate the hard work they do for your child! If possible, chip in for a larger gift (or gift card) with some or all of the other parents in the class. If you don’t know the other parents, a small coffeeshop gift card makes a great teacher gift. You could also include a small, handmade gift from your child, to let them know your child appreciates them as well. :-) (I’ve single out elementary school teachers, because teacher gifts tend to be less common in middle school and high school due to the fact students have multiple teachers for their different subjects. But you could certainly write a special note or card to an older child’s favorite teacher!)
Your Babysitter, Dog Walker, or Cleaning Person
For people who visit your home every once in a while to provide a service, a good rule of thumb for tipping is to give them the equivalent of what you would pay them for one day of service. So if you normally pay your babysitter $40 for a night of babysitting, you could give her an extra $40 along with a card as a nice expression of your appreciation.
General Holiday Tipping Tips
- If you’re giving a monetary gift, try to give cash or gift cards. Giving a check requires your gift recipient to make a special trip to the bank or the ATM, so ready-to-spend cash or gift cards are generally appreciated!
- Place your tip in an envelope, with a signed note or card. This helps to ensure that your gift doesn’t get lost in the shuffle (especially for people who receive holiday gifts from multiple people.)
- Give what you can afford. I can’t stress this enough. Holiday tipping is nice, but it certainly isn’t worth putting yourself in a difficult position financially! If you can’t afford to tip every one, prioritize the ones who are most important in your life. Start with them and see how far your budget takes you. If monetary gifts just aren’t in the cards for you right now, don’t underestimate the power of a nice, handwritten thank-you card.
- Don’t feel guilty. If you can’t afford it, you cant afford it.
The whole point of holiday gifts and tipping is to let people in your life know that you appreciate what they do, so any way you choose to show your appreciation is just fine. :-)