A Practical Guide to Holiday Gifts and Tipping


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Now that “the holidays” (which seem to run from October through January now) are upon us, it’s time to start planning your holiday gifts and tips. Aside from the obvious (spouses, parents, children, siblings, your ex-boyfriend’s friend Ted) here are some people in your life that you really should provide with a thoughtful gift or generous tip, and some ideas of what you can give them.

Teachers, babysitters, nannies – These people are educating your children, something you yourself have no capability of doing. In some instances, they are literally dealing with shit. Spare no expense. Give them cash, and lots of it.

Mailperson, UPS delivery person, FedEx delivery person – What would you do without them? In case you’re at a loss as to what to give these people who seem to make packages magically appear at your door, a scientific poll has revealed their favorite kind of gift is booze.

Garbage collectors – They know how wasteful you are, so they know you can afford to give them a generous tip. Consider giving each of them a gift card to a website that sells things made of upcycled materials. Waste not, want not.

Hair stylist, manicurist, personal trainer, waxer, eyelash tinter, masseuse, facialist – These are the people who prevent you from collapsing into nothing but a puddle of goo with eyeballs. Tip them generously on each service they provide you. If you don’t have all of these people in your life, forget what I said and focus on making yourself presentable to society.

Doorman – People who live in buildings with doormen often ask, “How much should I tip my doorman at the end of the year?” It’s simple – just take your year-end bonus and divide it evenly among all the doormen you have in your building.

Dogwalker, pet groomer –  Do you have someone in your life who walks your dog or grooms your pet? Again, these people are dealing with actual sh*t. Compensate them accordingly. If you don’t want to give them cold, hard cash you could knit matching sweaters for them and their pets. Don’t forget a gift for your own pet! Otherwise, Fluffypants will take it out on you by peeing on your bed.

Waiters, caterers, bartenders – Perhaps you throw a holiday shindig replete with catering and an open bar, or maybe you frequent a local restaurant or bar. Triple what you usually tip them, and don’t overindulge just because you think you can. You can’t.

Work colleagues – There’s just one simple rule to remember: underwear is always considered an inappropriate gift in the workplace.

Atheists –  Everyone knows at least one atheist, am I right? Why not give the atheists festivus poles? That will be sure to brighten their days! After all, aluminum is super shiny.

Charitable contributions –  Don’t forget to make your year-end charitable contribution! In case you’ve forgotten, don’t worry, you’ll receive several reminders. And in case you still forgot, there will be people ringing loud bells and shouting everywhere you go. Give generously!

Your “frenemy” – Mariah Carey Christmas album. Done.

Yourself – After you’ve given gifts or tipped all of these people, why not buy yourself a little something? Studies show that people actually stick to a holiday gift budget if they buy themselves a gift. Go on, “treat yourself”! Your budget is -$148,984.  Bonus advice: Don’t look at your credit card statements until at least March.


Janine Annett has been published in various online and print outlets including recent humor pieces on Maximum Middle Age, Sammiches & Psych Meds, and the Akashic Books website. She is also a picture book writer. Janine lives just outside of New York City with her son, husband, and very old cat.

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