It’s been a difficult year (or two) for many people. If you have the means to, it’s always nice to spread some holiday cheer in the form of gifts and tips for the hardworking people who make your life easier on a regular basis: doormen, caregivers, delivery people, babysitters, kid’s teachers, dog walkers, hairdressers, and everyone in between. But how do you know what to do and how much to spend?
Here are some considerations for how to navigate tipping (& gifting) this holiday season:
- How often do you use their services? For someone very regularly helping you out, consider spending the amount of one or two services on their gift or tip. For example, if you have a house cleaner who comes weekly, gift or tip the equivalent of the cost of one or two cleaning sessions, and accompany it with a handwritten thank you note.
- Have you tipped all year? You may opt to skip tipping if you’ve tipped them all year round regularly, and instead give a small gift or a nice card instead for the holidays. If they have always gone above and beyond and you want to give them a generous tip, by all means go for it!
- Find out if you allowed to tip or gift first. Some professions or service people can simply not accept gifts or certain amounts at all due to ethics policies set in place, so check with them or their employer first. For example, USPS mailpersons cannot accept gifts exceeding $20.
Never feel obligated to tip/gift something you cannot afford. A heartfelt thank you handwritten note, a small box of holiday chocolates, or a handmade gift or baked good can go a long way. It’s the gesture of the “thank you” that is the true message. If you cannot reasonably afford to actually tip a significant amount, that is perfectly fine and these options will still make your recipient feel appreciated.
Is there an opportunity to group-gift? Don’t forget-group gifting is always an option: for example, for kids’ teachers or day care providers whom many people may be looking to gift, there may be an opportunity to get together with other parents and give a more impactful gift together rather than small ones individually. Check with others in your situation and see if they’re up for it.
- How personal is your relationship? If it's more of a personal relationship, a gift rather than cash tip can go a long way. It shows you know them and you understand their interests. A personal gift can truly make an impact, while cash can be reserved for relationships that are a bit less personal or friendly.