With the holidays coming, youd like to show your appreciation to those hardworking folks who provide services to you and your family. The mail carrier, babysitter, maid, your childrens teachers, and many others, deserve a little something, but how to decide whats appropriate?
One important thing to remember is that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, or does so the same way. If youre shopping for someone you dont know very well, avoid gifts that scream Christmas, such as Santa figurines or items with religious connotations. That doesnt mean that a gift would be unappreciated, if only in terms of an end-of-year bonus.
Cash tops the list of what most people want for Christmas, and its almost always appropriate. Most people who render services regularly consider it a tip, not a gift. The amounts given vary widely, so use your budget and common sense as a guide. Make sure cash, if given, is in fresh crisp billsand only write personal checks if youre absolutely certain they wont bounce.
Mail carriers are not allowed to accept cash gifts, so to get around this, and to personalize your gift, consider giving gift certificates or gift cards instead. Certificates for fast food restaurants, movie tickets, grocery stores, department stores, and malls are universally appreciated.
For those who provide child-care services or teach, its always nice to get your children involved in the gift selection. Gifts dont have to be expensive to be meaningful. While youd think that teachers receive more kid-crafted items than they know what to do with, most are treasured. Teachers also appreciate gift certificates for stores that sell school supplies.
While many people still enjoy receiving homemade foods such as cookies, candy, and jams, our society has become suspicious of such items, (and some people have food allergies) so it may be best to offer the pre-packaged variety instead. If youre set on giving homemade foods, be sure to clearly label the package inside and out with your name and, if appropriate, the ingredients. A tactful and generous way to provide the ingredient list is to include the recipe.
Whatever you decide to give your hard-working service providers, the most important thing to include is a heartfelt word of thanks.