Is It Better To Tip or Give at the Holidays?

Is It Better To Tip or Give at the Holidays?

Once upon a time, etiquette dictated what’s “appropriate” at the holidays for the service people in our lives. Who should receive a bonus tip, how much it should be—it was all spelled out for us, down to the dollar. Today, there are fewer guidelines and more options, complicating the question altogether. Is it better to tip or give at the holidays? The answer should be inspired by your relationship with each person, not what Miss Manners has to say.

Kids’ Teachers

Everyone can use cash or a gift card this year, but be careful about entering bribe territory. Keep it small and thoughtful, with a gift card to one of their favorite coffee shops. Steer clear of mugs and other items they get all the time. They might appreciate craft supplies for the class, or a handmade ornament to remember your child.

Your Mail Carrier

Be careful. It’s illegal in the United States for a postal employee to accept a tip, but a small gift under $20 is acceptable, like a homemade scarf to keep them warm. FedEx can accept non-cash gifts up to $75; UPS doesn’t have an official policy, but prefers us to stick to cookies.

Your Hairstylist

Since this is a person you regularly tip, many people feel comfortable giving a bonus tip at the holidays equivalent to one appointment. You could also give them something to encourage self-care; they’re on their feet all day, and they may work in the beauty industry, but no one really pampers them.

Your Landlord

You don’t want to make it seem like you’re begging for special treatment, since landlords should be living up to their responsibilities without a bribe. But the holidays are a great chance to improve your relationship with the property owner. Instead of money, show you’ve gotten to know them on a personal level, with a customized gift that appeals to their tastes or hobbies.

Nursing Home Attendants

Something edible to be shared by the staff is always appreciated, but they’re inundated at the holidays. Give something like a box of candy they can stash away for future months.

Garbage Collectors

Even if you don’t see each other when they swing by each week, it warms their hearts when you thank them for what they do. Many homeowners leave a six-pack of beer by the curb, but you could enclose a tip inside a card and tape it to the top of your garbage bin. Just remember that it will be split at least two ways.

So, what’s the answer? Is it better to tip or give at the holidays? If you’re uncomfortable or unsure about tipping, remember that service people are paid to do their jobs. Anything extra at the holidays is up to your discretion. It doesn’t hurt to send a beautiful, personalized greeting card with a non-generic note about how grateful you are for their work. In fact, a little appreciation is a gift you can give all year-round.

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