Holiday Giving

Give Gratefully

A handy guide for who (and how much) to tip at the holidays


When the holiday season rolls around every year, we have a million things to do. Shopping for loved ones, cooking meals, planning family parties and staying on top of day-to-day responsibilities can be a lot to deal with. Having so many things to remember, it’s understandable when something or someone important gets overlooked, but not this year. Holiday tipping is incredibly important, but it seems like a lost tenet in our fast paced lives. It is about saying thank you; even if your gift-giving budget is tight, find a creative way to show your appreciation. To make things easier, here is a guide for who to tip and how much so you can be sure that everyone gets a piece of your holiday cheer.

Letter Carrier: This is a tricky one because there are rules in place for the United States Postal Service that restrict what letter carriers can accept. It seems that many people still know to tip their mailman this time of year, but what exactly is allowed? You may give snacks and beverages or perishable gifts that are not part of a meal (so forget about passing off your leftover tuna casserole), but if the item is large, like a fruit basket or platter of cookies, it is supposed to be shared with the whole branch. Small gifts that are clearly no more than $20 in value, such as a travel mug or a scented candle, are permitted – but they are strict about limiting the amount spent, so don’t go overboard. Cash, checks, gift cards or anything else considered a form of currency are not acceptable, so it is a good idea to plan ahead to find something within these guidelines that you know they will appreciate.

Maintenance Worker or Superintendent: If you live in a large residential building, there are a few key people whom you see regularly; they are the ones fixing your garbage disposal, letting you in when you get locked out and climbing ladders to shovel snow off the roof. Often times you form personal relationships with these workers, so it is nice to have a chance to show them that you notice all they do. If you go the cash route, $20-$80 is standard, so any gift you give should also be somewhere in that range – but with no rules in place you can feel free to give more if they have gone above and beyond for you this year.

School Teacher: It is nice to involve your children for this; it can teach them about giving at a young age and they might enjoy feeling like they helped. Cash is out of the question here – it just doesn’t suit the relationship. A small gift is ideal. Some good ideas include classroom supplies, books, a picture frame or a gift basket.

Beauty Salon Staff or Barber: If you are a regular at a salon the suitable gift is an added tip, $10-60 for each staff member who works with you. You can give on the higher end if you are only seeing a few people, and if you go to a hairdresser who works alone the standard amount is the cost of one haircut. As always, a gift is also customary and if you spend a lot of time talking to them in their chair you may even know exactly what he or she would like.

Tipping Advice
Remember that it is nice to always include a handwritten card or note thanking them for all they do, no matter what the gift. It is fine if it isn’t in your budget this year to give an extra tip; a handwritten note alone will make anyone smile and it never hurts to let someone know you thought of them. If you believe that not tipping will result in poor service in the future, you might consider a change, as it is never mandatory to include this holiday bonus. We hope this guide will remind you what the holidays are all about: love, appreciation and spreading joy. So just give what you know will make someone’s day.


1 comment on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Awesome suggestions. I'm also a true believer in the power of a handwritten note. There's something special about opening a letter that's not a bill!

Monday, November 21, 2011