Here’s how to budget for holiday gratuities


If the rate of spending during the holiday is any indication, generosity is in full force come the end of the year. During their second annual holiday debt survey, the financial resource MagnifyMoney found consumers who took on debt during the 2016 holiday season started the New Year an average of $1,003 in the red. That marks an increase of 1.7 percent over 2015.

Rather than finding themselves in debt again next January, shoppers inclined to use their credit cards this holiday season must recognize the importance of budgeting for all holiday expenses — including those that may not immediately come to mind, such as gratuities for service providers.

Gratuities are gestures of kindness and appreciation during the holiday season. Although gratuities are not entirely necessary, many etiquette experts say certain people, particularly those who provide year-round services, are worthy of a little extra money this time of year. Consider thank-you notes for those people who don’t land on this year’s gratuity list.

Following is a list of service workers whose efforts throughout the year are typically worthy of gratuities come the holiday season.

Postal workers - Postal workers face the elements each and every day to make sure letters and packages arrive on time. Their work is made even more challenging during the rush of the holiday season, when mail flow increases considerably. The U.S. Postal Service forbids carriers from accepting cash gifts, but gift cards or other tokens of appreciation can be fitting.

Newspaper delivery person - Gift the equivalent of one month of the subscription price, which may be between $10 and 30.

Trash/recycling collectors - Check with the local municipality for regulations on tipping public service providers, who can be tipped depending on your budget.

Daycare staff or babysitter - Those tasked with caring for children are worthy of a little something extra. A gift between $40 and $70 can be fitting. In addition, include a handmade gift from the children if kids are old enough. The Emily Post Institute suggests gifting one week’s pay to a live-in nanny or au pair.

Housekeeper - Up to one week’s pay should suffice for housekeepers.

Personal caregiver - Gift between one week and one month’s salary for someone charged with caring for a loved one. In a nursing home setting, provide a gift the staff can enjoy, such as a catered lunch.

Teacher - He or she spends several hours a day with children. Pool resources with other parents to purchase a gift card or thoughtful gift.