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Holiday Gifts – How Much To Spend On “Other People”

written by John Chow on November 9, 2006

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With the holidays just around the corner and Black Friday fast approaching, the shopping bug is about to test the limits of our wallet and credit cards. Most people have a good idea on what to buy family and love ones but what about the “other people?” Co-workers, babysitters, barbers, doormen, etc. How much, if any, should you spend on them? Here’s a little guide so you don’t look like a cheap ass, or worst, look like you’re giving off the wrong impression (if you give diamond earrings to your babysitter, she may wonder if you’re looking for “additional” services).

Gifts to Co-Workers

At most companies it is not expected for you to give gifts to people you work with. You can if you want to buy don’t spend too much and give everyone the same thing, and don’t expect a gift in return. Some companies may set up some kind of party where there will be a gift exchange, with limits set on how much each employee can spend on gifts.

If your boss buys a gift for everyone who reports to him/her, you’re not expected to reciprocate. If you’re unexpectedly on the receiving end of a gift from a co-worker, you do have to reciprocate. If you’re caught empty-hand, then lie. Say, “I’m sorry, I left your gift at home. I’ll bring it in tomorrow.” Then go out and buy something!

If there are one or two people at work you want to buy something for, treat your gift as a personal gesture, and don’t hand them out at the office, unless you know no one is looking.

Tip or Gift?

When it comes to gifts for babysitters, barber, teachers, and the like, the first thing you need to decide is whether to give a present or a tip. The rule of thumb is this: if you pay them directly for a service, like a haircut, you should give a tip. If you don’t pay this person directly, like a teacher, then you should give a gift. If a tip is appropriate, then the next question is how much should the tip be. Here’s a rough guide on how much to give from Money Sense magazine:

  • Babysitter – One evening pays and a small gift
  • Barber – Cost of one haircut
  • Beauty salon staff – $10 to $60 each and / or small gift
  • Teacher – Gift, not cash – spend $20 to $50
  • Daycare provider – $25 to $70 each, plus a small gift from your child
  • Fitness trainer – Cost of one lesson
  • Housekeeper – One week’s pay
  • Massage therapist – One session’s fee and / or a gift
  • Nanny – One week’s salary and a gift from the child
  • Newspaper boy – $10 to $30
  • Residential Doorman – $10 to $80

Keep in mind that holiday tips escalate quickly as you move into high society. Some of the doormen at luxury high-rises in Manhattan makes $8,000 a year in holiday tips, with single tips in the hundreds of dollars. That’s a pretty good holiday bonus.

Gifts for Your Favorite Website or Blog

The general rule of thumb for giving to your favorite website or blog is 10% of your annual income. Paypal is the preferred method of receiving this gift, but a certified check or money order works just as well. My paypal email address is [email protected] I’ll be checking it on December 25th.

While the above gift maybe every blogger’s dream, all would be very happy to receive an E-card and a note of thanks. Happy shopping!

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{ 9 comments }

David Mackey November 9, 2006 at 5:31 pm

lol. Nice final touch. I wish 10%.

Gary November 9, 2006 at 5:33 pm

Where is the PayPal link to pay? :P

Gdog November 9, 2006 at 6:12 pm

I thought you’re supposed to pay 10% of your annual income to your readers–share the wealth, baby! :)

jim November 10, 2006 at 6:37 am

What about neibours is my big one, i moved to the city about 4 years ago. And in the country areas its kind of a faux pas to not at least send a card now i live in a block of units i am a bit confused i talk to a lot of my neighbours should i at least give them a card and say merry christmas?

Lawrence November 10, 2006 at 6:11 pm

John, you are silly. You’re supposed to give 10% to Jesus.

…but since he’s dead I guess you’ll do.

Kimbrr December 13, 2006 at 11:40 am

Nice article. Very helpful at this time of the year. Thanks!

Rob Neville January 11, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Excellent Resource Jon. Any more ideas on proper etiquette for some others like maybe the mail-carrier, the garbage man, etc.?

Ryan January 11, 2007 at 9:11 pm

I just want to know how many people sent John 10% of their income. :D

adrian January 12, 2007 at 6:38 pm

I have never seen a gift guide like that before. Original idea, and good luck with your gifts.