Tips for Holiday Tipping and Gifting (Sponsored)

Holiday tipping can leave people wondering who to give to and how much to spend. Start by shifting gears and think of holiday tipping as holiday thanking instead. Then consider the people you might like to thank in your life—the ones who help you and your family throughout the year, such as letter carriers, teachers, hair stylists, and babysitters, to name a few. Each person’s list will be different, as will his or her budget. And while the phrase “holiday tipping” suggests cash, the reality is that a gift is always appropriate in lieu of cash—and sometimes, it’s the only appropriate option.

When it comes to your child’s teacher, think beyond the proverbial mug. Gift cards to Staples are one of the very best choices, as many teachers buy extra supplies for their classrooms throughout the year. Something fun, like a smartphone case, from Belkin or OtterBox which offer a variety of colors and styles, could make another great gift. Whatever you choose, be sure your child is part of the decision and signs the card.

For hairstylists and babysitters, cash is okay to give. The typical amount is up to the cost of one trip to the salon or evening of babysitting. But gifts can be a great alternative, especially if you know their style or interests. Think a tablet case (like this Belkin one for the chef) or some cool earbuds, both available at Staples.

Mail carriers are restricted by the United State Postal Service from receiving cash or gift cards, but may receive small gifts of less than $20 in value. Hand warmers, hot cocoa packets, chocolates, and other little treats are all good options.

With any gift, give an accompanying card with a handwritten message such as, “Thanks for all you do throughout the year.”

Anna Post is a nationally known etiquette expert, co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition and a member of the Staples Holiday Council.

*This post is sponsored by Staples.


  1. Pam

    I read the guidelines for tipping & gifting ideas for Christmas! However, there is one person that I didn’t see on that list. Our Daughter’s Bus Driver. Bus Drivers gets our kids to & from school safely everyday, don’t they deserve something too.

  2. Jody

    I agree that each person’s budget is different. While a certain amount may be “accepted” it may just be too much for the giver’s budget. I usually give a gift to my paper carrier, the mailman (for the reasons you cite above), our condo manager and his staff. I’m sure some people give them cash but they’re gracious enough to accept all gifts in the spirit they were given.

  3. Deedee

    Since I complained previously I feel the need to thank you for notifying us in the heading that this is a sponsored post. And I gladly read it and did get some helpful ideas. Thanks!

  4. Vikingirish

    You are way off on your holiday tipping. I’ve been working as a private duty nurse for ten years. Up until the present client I gratefully received hundreds of dollars in gifts at Christmas. The woman I work for now is from another country and thought a mail order ham from Vermont was appropriate. Of course I graciously accepted, but I can easily buy a ham myself if I wanted one. What I can’t do is give myself enough money to make Christmas time less stingy than my normal salary affords.

    Your guide would help people get over this uncomfortable cultural gap, but please get it right!

  5. Geri

    If I tip my hairstylist every time I see her I don’t think I need to give her a gift at Christmas. Frankly I think she should give me a gift to thank me for being a loyal customer who is always on schedule and gives her 15-20% of the value of the service that she performs. A postman is not getting a gratuity on a regular basis, nor is the trash man, etc. I recently read that one “should” give a gift of an annual subscription to the paper carrier. One of my subscriptions cost $300 because I receive it daily… are you kidding me? I never see anything that states the rules are different if you tip someone on a regular basis. What am I missing in this?

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