Holiday gift and tipping guide, Pandemic style

The holidays are a great time to say “thanks” and show appreciation for those who help us keep our families, homes and businesses on track, keep our homes clean, help us stay fit, and help us in other ways to get through each day throughout the year.  With that in mind, we updated our suggested gifts and tips for 2021. 

Gift giving etiquette may not always be obvious when considering gifts for people outside of your friends and family, so be mindful of the message you send.  Giving should show appreciation and respect.  Sometimes a smile or kind word can really make someone’s day.

For those you can’t tip, you can still make them feel appreciated

The list of people to thank includes first responders and health care workers.  Like many houses we see, you can display a sign with a red heart as a way of saying thank you. 

You can also send letters of thanks directly to a local hospital, fire station or police department or send a meal or buy coffee.  Check for any online bulletin board in your town, both to post a thank you note and to see if there are other ways to acknowledge your local first responders. 

“Neither snow nor rain…”

Despite the weather, terrain or traffic, your mail carriers, FedEx, UPS and Amazon drivers deliver your mail and packages every day and ensure that your online purchases arrive on time and in good condition.  These delivery workers have carried an increased burden during the Pandemic, even risking their own health.  

In deciding what and how much to give, consider the particular company’s gift giving restrictions:

1.  Mail carriers – are prohibited from receiving cash gifts and gifts of more than $20.

2.  Garbage and recycling pickup – depending on what municipal rules permit, we suggest $10-$30.

3.  FedEx – employees may accept gifts under $75, though no cash or gift cards.

4.  UPS – workers are allowed to accept tips, but UPS discourages the practice.

5.  Newspaper delivery – a gift of $10-$30 is standard.

6.  Amazon driver – we suggest the same as for newspaper delivery. 

7.  Food delivery and curbside pickup – again we suggest the same as for newspaper delivery.

Caregivers (for kids, parents and pets, too!)

Caregivers for your children, parents and pets can be lifesavers.  They provide care, education, exercise, and attention to those you care about most.  This is the time of year to let them know how thankful you are for all that they do.  The amount of service they provide and the arrangement you have with them can dictate the appropriate gift level:

1.  Nanny/au pair – a week’s salary and a small gift.

2.  Daycare teachers – a $25-$70 gift.

3.  Home healthcare worker – from one week up to a month’s salary.

4.  Teacher – a small gift and a handmade card from your child (unless your child is still remote learning).  Note that a cash gift could be misconstrued as a bribe.  You can pool resources with other parents for a gift card.

5.  Dog walker – depending on your walker’s schedule, you may want to gift a day’s pay or a full week’s pay.

6.  Dog groomer – from half up to the full cost for the service.

If you contract any of these services through an agency, you may want to contact the agency to find out if they have a gift-giving policy in effect.  If the agency prohibits gifts, consider alternatives like making a donation to the agency or sending in homemade cookies to the office.  

Also, if you have seen these people less frequently, consider adding more to a tip as they have suffered from the infrequent visits by you and others.  Or sneak a Starbucks card into their stocking. 

Home Maintenance

Whether you live in a single-family home or a large apartment building, it’s likely there is someone who services your home or property in some way. 

1.  Trash and recycling collectors – a gift of $10-$30, which you may want to mail directly to the collection company if you can’t safely leave for the collectors.

2.  Doorman – a gift of $25-$100, depending on their role this year.

3.  Regular cleaning person – the cost of one visit.

4.  Landscapers/gardeners – a gift of $20-$50 per person or if you have just one person doing the work, the cost of one visit.

5.  Parking garage attendant – a gift of $10-$50.

6.  Building’s handyman, superintendent and custodian – a gift of $20-$100.

If you have someone who always goes the extra mile, such as a handyman who’s prompt and efficient or a doorman who is quick to carry heavy packages for you, then a larger tip may be warranted. 

Personal Services

It’s hard work keeping you fit, perfectly coiffed and beautiful, and ready to face the day, but recognizing the efforts of those who do is easy and may also help you get that special appointment when you really need it.  In deciding whether to tip and how much, consider this:

1.  Hairdresser/manicurist – if you’re a frequent visitor, tip the cost of one visit.  If you’re a less frequent customer, then $20.  However, if you tip generously through the year, you do not need to give an extra tip at the end of the year.  If multiple people work on your hair, divide the tip among them. 

2.  Personal trainer – up to the cost of one visit.

3.  Massage therapist – also up to cost of one visit.

4.  Golf or tennis instructor or sax teacher – a thoughtful gift.

If you’re unable to tip or give a gift, a thoughtful thank you note will acknowledge the good work these people do for you throughout the year.   

Good feedback is appreciated by their supervisor as well as by the people who are helping you out. 

Another effective gesture of gratitude is to send a thank you note to the supervisors of the people who provide you with great service throughout the year, letting them know how impressed you are with the service you receive.

If you have any more ideas, let us know! 

Be safe and stay well! 

  • Steven

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