Holiday gift-giving etiquette can be confusing, especially when it comes to gifting those men and women who aren’t necessarily friends or family members, but still help us out in a variety of ways. Deciding how to thank the people who intersect our lives by delivering mail or cleaning the pool can take a little ingenuity.
Gifting preferences often vary from region to region. What might be acceptable in a certain area of the country may be frowned upon elsewhere. For example, in urban areas cash gifts are usually appreciated, whereas rural, close-knit communities tend to give homemade gifts. The rule to remember, above all, is that if a gift is given with good intentions, it should be happily received. That being said, here are some general guidelines for gifting those men and women who help us throughout the year.
• Determine your list. Think about the people with whom you interact regularly. The sanitation workers who pick up the trash twice a week and your mail carrier may take priority over the hairstylist you visit once every month or two.
• Establish a budget. The holiday season can be costly, so set a firm limit on what you plan to give, perhaps between $10 and $20 each, and stick to that budget for each recipient.
• Recognize that not everyone is allowed to accept gifts. Some service providers are not allowed to accept cash gifts or presents. Government employees, for example, may be prohibited from accepting cash gifts or gifts that exceed a predetermined amount. With this in mind, gloves or a gift basket may be your best option.
• Gift a little more to personal care professionals. Your hairstylists, masseuse or anyone who performs more personal tasks for you may warrant a larger gift. Etiquette suggests giving a gift equal to the price of one session of service, even if that gift is cash. Therefore if your hair cut costs $35, gift $35.
• Health and child care employees warrant special treatment. A private nurse, nanny or nursing home worker should be gifted for the holidays. Avoid cash gifts with health service providers, opting for a more personal gift that is a token of your affection and appreciation. If gifts are not allowed, consider making a charitable donation in the person’s name.