Making a list

Tips for giving gifts to teachers, hairstylists and other service providers

Just who do we have to buy gifts for this holiday season? Family and friends obviously make the list, but what about all those other people who intersect our lives, such as your mail carrier, day care provider or hairstylist?

Holiday gift-giving etiquette can be tricky and even vary by region.

We should be giving gifts to "the service providers we can't do without," said Lindsay Roberts, founder of "The manicurist, the hairstylist, the masseuse, postal worker, baby sitter, doorman, dog walker (and) housekeeper are the people that sometimes get lost in the holiday gift-giving shuffle, even though we are so thankful for their roles in our lives."

You especially don't want to forget anyone who provides a frequent service.

"They deserve that extra thought of a gift. They know you well; you probably know them well, too. Consider their interests, their families, their spouses and buy it, wrap it and always add a handwritten card," Roberts said.

Suggested spending is $25 to $50, or the cost of one service.

"Try to buy something that they wouldn't buy themselves. I love anything personalized," she said.

Other tips

As far as teachers, never give money, Roberts advised: "It's all about the heartfelt thanks. A homemade gift is a touching idea, from the parent or the child. In either situation, have the child include a hand-drawn note or picture." The gift value should be about $10 to $25.

Who is it appropriate to gift with cash?

"For the housekeeper or any trade that you know they would really appreciate some extra cash, put the equivalent of one day/service in a card and write an appreciative note; maybe even attach a flower," Roberts said.

What about those unexpected gifts?

"Having a bottle of wine or any alcohol is a great solution to have on hand for those unexpected gifts you get and quickly need something in return," Roberts said. "Doormen, dog walkers, postal workers (and) cleaners are the people you see often but don't really know them personally. This is a great opportunity to give a bottle of wine, Champagne or a gift certificate to a restaurant that you think they might like. It shows you bothered."

Cost of wine, Champagne or restaurant gift certificate should be about $20.

Keep in mind that federal workers such as mail carriers cannot accept gifts of any kind worth more than $20.

The purpose of holiday gift-giving is not to attain better service in the coming year, Roberts said.

"Make sure whatever you do is from the heart and has no ulterior motives. Holiday tipping and giving is about saying thank you and showing kindness."

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