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Holiday Tips and Gifts
Even in the best of times, it can be difficult to decide who should get a holiday gift or tip from you. Obviously you give a gift to any household staff you have. But what about your child’s teacher? Your hairdresser? Your newspaper delivery person? Deciding who should get what can threaten to put the “Bah, Humbug!” in your holidays. But there are some guidelines to holiday giving.
When it comes to household staff, you can give a gift or cash, or a combination of the two. Generally, you should expect to spend the equivalent of at least a week’s salary. If the person has been with you a long time or if you are exceptionally close, plan to spend more.
If you decide to give a gift, choose something that you know the person would enjoy but probably would not buy for himself. Don’t give something related to the job. Your nanny doesn’t want a really nice diaper bag, for example.
Don’t forget presentation. Wrapped gifts should look beautiful, and checks or cash should be put into an elegant card or envelope. Always include a personal note expressing your appreciation for all the ways in which the person has been important to you during the year.
It is a little trickier to decide about tips and gifts for people who are not employed in your home. In general, listen to your instincts. If a person has gone out of her way to be nice or helpful, acknowledge that with a gift. Some examples:
- Occasional baby-sitter. If the teen-age girl who watches your kids is reliable and great with the children, she deserves something. Good choices for her include a gift card to her favorite store or coffee spot, or a check. Expect to spend about what you would pay her if you went out for the evening.
- Child’s teacher. It is always nice to express your appreciation to your child’s teacher. Remember, though, that she probably has more than enough cups and shirts and knick-knacks that proclaim her “World’s Best Teacher.” If she teaches young children, she probably also has lots of gifts made by little hands. Let your child make something for the teacher, but add a gift card to the package.
- Your hairdresser. Your definitely want to remember your hairdresser if you go to the same person on a regular basis and he makes your hair look wonderful, or if he works around your schedule. In that case, your gift should be equal to at least the cost of an appointment.
- Newspaper delivery person. Again, it depends in part on the kind of job he does. If your paper is always on time and right where you want it, then you can give a small monetary gift. If your paper always ends in the neighbor’s driveway, you might want to skip it, and hope he gets the point.
- Letter carrier. The U.S. Postal Service prohibits letter carriers from accepting cash. They are, however, allowed to accept gifts worth no more than $20.
What if you can’t afford all this gifting in these tough times? Consider a homemade treat, such as cookies or a loaf of banana bread, nicely wrapped.
Finally, no matter what you give, include a personal note. After all, you are giving these gifts because these people are important to you in some way. Tell them that.