While you’re busy getting gifts together for your children, your spouse, your parents and other extended family members, it can be easy to forget about the service people who we hire to take care of various things for us. While you should never feel obligated to give a gift, you might be wondering what’s appropriate to gift the babysitter, mail carrier, hairdresser and other servicepeople who help you throughout the year. Here are some guidelines:
- Your mail carrier braves rain, wind, snow and, this time of year, maybe even the gloom of night to bring you your mail. He might also be coming to the door with packages during the holiday season, particularly if you have faraway friends and family! The U.S. Postal Service prohibits him from accepting any cash gifts, but you can give him a non-cash gift that’s valued under $20. Some examples might be a Christmas ornament, a travel mug with tea bags or some small packages of coffee, or some type of snack to enjoy while on the road, such as beef jerky, fruit or maybe homemade cookies or muffins.
- The garbage collector is another professional whose services often go unnoticed. Meet her at the curb with cash in a card or a small gift. Depending on where you live, $10 to $20 is usually appropriate. If your garbage collector doesn’t get out of the truck and instead has a truck with an arm that picks up the trash can, you really don’t need to leave a tip, particularly if you’ve never had any interaction.
- For contractors who you hire each week, such as landscapers, gardeners or housecleaners, one week’s pay is a nice gift. If you use a landscaping or housecleaning service and don’t have a regular provider, however, you don’t need to tip at all.
- For your child’s babysitter or nanny, a gift plus a week’s pay makes a nice bonus. Your child should make a card, and handmade-by-your-child gifts are always appreciated, even if you won’t be giving a bonus this year. Also, consider writing a heartfelt letter, telling her how much you appreciate the tender loving care that she gives your child. If you use a daycare center, policies vary. Ask whether teachers are allowed to accept gifts. If so, gift certificates to a coffee shop or bath and body items are often welcomed.
Remember that a gift is a nice extra, but should not be expected. If you are not in the financial position to tip your service providers or have some other reason for not wanting to do so, then don’t feel obligated. A sincere thank you and a hand-written card is an appropriate holiday greeting for anyone, whether you’re giving a gift or a bonus this year.