By Anna-Marie Menhenott
TREASURE COAST -- Making sure that everyone in your life is smiling during the holidays can be a source of stress. Besides buying presents for the little ones and baking pies for parties at work, making sure that those who provide year-round services are taken care of during the holidays is usually top on the to-do list.
Those who make life easier, such as mail and newspaper carriers, pool and lawn maintenance workers, hair stylists, your child's teacher and housekeepers, should be given a special token of thanks. Knowing how much or what to give can be overwhelming.
Here is a list from www.realsimple.com of ideal ways to show appreciation to those who do so much.
Give a tip to...
Building superintendent: $20 to $100, depending on how responsive and helpful your super has been.
Doorman: $20 to $100. If there are multiple doormen, $15 or more for each is fine; if you have only one, then the higher end of that range is more appropriate, especially if he is friendly and does a lot for you. The average holiday tip is $50.
Elevator operator/other building staff: $20 to $50. Check with your building association to see if there is a holiday tip pool that is shared by all of the building's employees.
Landscaper/gardener: $20 to $50. If he or she comes frequently, give up to a week's pay.
Pool cleaners: For a regular crew, the price of one cleaning, to divide among themselves. If a different employee shows up each visit, holiday tipping is unnecessary.
Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price. Sometimes you can include a tip when you pay your bill. Remember that adults usually do this job these days.
Handyman: $15 to $40, depending on how much work you've had him do.
Trash/recycling collectors: $10 to $30 each for private service; for public service, check your local municipality for regulations as some areas may not allow tipping.
Buy a gift for your...
Assistant: In addition to any end-of-the-year bonus, give a gift or gift card worth at least $50, depending on your position in the company and the assistant's length of service. Avoid perfume, clothing, or anything that could be perceived as too personal.
Boss: While not necessary, a simple gift is a nice gesture. Talk to coworkers to see if they'd like to chip in to buy a gift card or a restaurant gift certificate.
Teacher/tutor: Don't spend more than $25. Assuming the school allows gifts, give something such as a bookstore or restaurant gift certificate, a picture frame, a coffee shop gift card, or a homemade gift from your child, accompanied by a hand-written thank-you note. Gifts aren't as common at middle schools and high schools where each child has five or more teachers.
Home health employees/private nurse: A modest gift that shows your appreciation. Cash is not a good option. Be sure to check with the agency first, as some prohibit gifts.
Nursing home employees: Check company policy. Cash is not appropriate, but something that can be shared among the staff, like chocolate, cookies, or flowers, is a great idea.
Letter carrier/package courier: While nothing is expected, if you have a friendly relationship with the person, then a small gift or gift card in the $20 range is a nice gesture. Anything more valuable than that is prohibited by the United States Postal Service. FedEx allows tips or a gift worth up to $75, while UPS does not have an official policy.
Nanny/au pair: A tip equal to one or two week's pay, plus a personal gift from your child(ren), such as a framed crayon or marker portrait showing the child's appreciation. Avoid kid-oriented gifts; an attractive handbag might score major points.
Day-care staff: $25 to $70 each for those who have direct contact with your child(ren), plus a small, personal gift from your offspring. If only one person takes care of your kids, shoot for the higher end of that range. A gift certificate is fine, but take the time to include a hand-written card.
Give a tip or a gift to your...
Babysitter: Cash or a gift equal to one or two night's pay. A personal gift from your child(ren) is always appreciated as well.
Cleaning lady: Up to one week's pay and/or a gift.
Dog walker: One week's pay and/or a gift. While tips are the norm, a down vest for winter walks, a massage, and other spa treatments are all thoughtful gift options.
Pet groomer: A tip or gift in the ballpark of the price of one session.
Hairstylist/manicurist/barber: The cost of one visit, or a gift of equivalent worth. If you deal with more than one person at a given establishment, give cash so they can split it among themselves.
Personal trainer/yoga instructor/massage therapist: Up to one session's fee or a modest gift, depending on how often you see him/her and whether he/she comes to your home. Avoid giving chocolate, cookies, or other unhealthy foods.
Personal caregiver: Up to a week's salary and/or a modest gift.
Most important, though, is that all holiday tips or gifts be accompanied by a handwritten "Happy Holidays" note.