Tips that take the guessing out of holiday giving

The holidays are the perfect time to say “thank you” – especially to the people who make your life easier. From your housekeeper to your mail carrier to your child’s babysitter, the caregivers in your life deserve some recognition. But do you give a gift or leave a tip? Use this guide to help determine who gets what, how much to spend and when it’s appropriate to give someone money. Now get out there and spread the holiday cheer, one thank you at a time.

House cleaner
Thank them for getting dirty – so you don’t have to. If your housekeeper does double duty with the kids, include a kid-craft or homemade card.
Spend: One week’s pay

Pet caregivers
Wind, sleet, snow and heat. This caregiver walks, plays and picks up after your favorite four-legged friend. For the everyday dog walker, give a week’s worth of bonus money.
Spend: Between one day and one week’s pay

Nannies care for your kids and love them like their own. Along with a generous holiday bonus, include something sentimental from your family, like a nice pair of gloves, photo album or spa treatment.
Spend: Between one week and one month’s pay.

If a babysitter is the reason you’ve had an occasional date night during the past few months, throw in an extra night’s pay or a gift card equivalent.
Spend: Between $25 and $75

Senior caregiver or housing attendant
A paid in-home attendant should receive a significant cash bonus. But for senior housing staff members, try movie, Target, or spa gift cards. And for family caregivers, offer a day of house cleaning or respite care to give their needs a break.
Spend: A day of your time, $20 gift cards for each staff member, or a week’s pay

Your boss
Maybe you don’t consider your boss a “caretaker,” and Emily Post says not to “gift up,” but if you consider your boss a mentor, a nice thank you card is a great token of appreciation. If you’re afraid others will make you look bad, consider a homemade specialty, a book, a bottle of wine, or organize a group gift with your coworkers.
Spend: Between $0 and $15

Hair stylist, waxer and manicurist
If you’re a regular with your “groomer,” tipping extra at the holidays is a wonderful boost, especially if she tends to squeeze you in for last-minute maintenance. Consider doubling your typical tip, or at least adding an extra 10 percent.
Spend: Between $10 and $100

Mail carrier
According to the USPS guidelines, cash is not allowed, but gift cards and small tokens of appreciation are OK.
Spend: Nothing over $20

Newspaper carrier
A gift card based around their interests is the way to go. Do they have a car? Go with a gas card. Is it a teen your son’s age? Consider iTunes or
Spend: Between $10 and $25.

Cash is tacky, but a gift card to help support their classroom is totally acceptable. Also consider a spa or restaurant certificate.
Spend: Between $25 and $100.

Bus driver
Imagine if carpool duty involved up to 30 rowdy kids — every day. That deserves a reward, right? Treat them with a gift card to a place everyone can find something, like Target, Best Buy or a local coffee shop.
Spend: Between $5 and $20

Tutor or coach
For specialized tutors, music teachers and coaches, a small thoughtful gift is a great way to show your appreciation. Consider personal interests or style and find a cozy scarf. If stuck, go with a gift card to iTunes.
Spend: Between $10 and $35


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