Gift Giving Etiquette

‘Tis the season of giving and with that comes lots questions surrounding who to buy for and how much to spend. Unlike your close friends and family, the answers aren’t so obvious when it comes to getting the right gifts for coworkers, neighbors, and the service people in your life. While the amount you spend will vary based on your personal budget, we’ve outlined a few rules of thumb when it comes to holiday tipping and gift exchanges.


Laying the Ground Rules

Rule #1: Don’t go over your budget. Holiday gift giving can be a stressful time. Setting a budget you can handle and sticking to it can make the season the joy it was meant to be.

Rule #2: Have gifts ready. When you feel the need to reciprocate an unexpected gift, having an emergency gift in your corner will come in handy.

Rule #3: Swap the holiday card for a handwritten note, and forgo the cash gift. Letting people know that you care about them will have a longer lasting impact than money.

Rule #4: Homemade crafts or baked treats work. The quickest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, right? Keep this in mind this holiday season and give the gift of homemade cooking.


In the Workplace

Coworkers – Giving gifts to coworkers can be a tricky endeavor, especially if you are not close outside of work. It is safe to give gifts that are useful in a work capacity like travel mugs or office supplies. Thoughtful and practical but not too personal – you can’t go wrong.

Boss – Giving a gift to your boss is not necessary and can come across as inappropriate. The safe move is to include your boss in a gift for the whole office.


In the Neighborhood

Neighbors – This can be another place where baked goods are the way to go. Going door-to-door with cookies or other treats can be a considerate way to connect with your neighbors and spread holiday cheer.

Mail Carrier – The Postal Service has restrictions on gifts that their letter carriers can accept, so be sure not to put them in an awkward situation of turning down an illicit gift. They are not allowed to accept gifts of cash, checks, gift cards, or gifts with a value over $20.

Garbage/recycle collector – Similar rules can be in place with letter carriers as with garbage collectors, so be sure to check with your town before you get a gift for yours.


Everyone else

Hairdresser, Dog walker, Personal trainer, etc., – A good rule of thumb for those who provide a service on a regular basis is a gift or tip equal to one service. So if you pay $50 for a haircut, a Christmas gift or tip should be around $50.


For all the gifts coming your way this holiday season, don’t forget the ‘Thank You’ notes. A thoughtful, handwritten note is usually the ticket.

Are there any other tips or unwritten rules we left out? Tell us about them in the comment section.