By Cammie Jones


CmmieI love the holidays—the hustle and bustle and the excitement in the air is invigorating to me.  However, when it comes to deciding upon, purchasing and giving gifts to all those people who you feel you want to recognize can be a little overwhelming. I am talking about neighbors, teachers, friends and other special folks who make your life more enjoyable or easier on a daily basis. Purchasing gifts for all these people could break the bank so I have put together some etiquette tips and inexpensive gift ideas that may help.

Etiquette tips (for what it’s worth!)

1.    Never tip a salaried employee such as a teacher, doctor, office staff, etc. I am not going to say that the class pooling money together to give the teacher a cash gift card or something like that is taboo. I consider that a gift versus a tip. And, who doesn’t like to get cash?

2.    Give a small gift to anyone who helps you or your family personally. For example, a day care worker, tutor for your child, teachers or a neighbor would qualify for this gift.

3.    Give a cash gift to anyone who performs a service for you like a nanny, hairdresser, personal trainer, housekeeper or lawn care professional that equals a full day/week’s pay or cost of a visit.

4.    Give the mail carrier a small gift that you slip into your mailbox or hand deliver. Cash gifts are prohibited by the USPS. As for FedEx and UPS, small gifts are preferred to tips but money is not specifically prohibited. If you do tip, it shouldn’t exceed $20-$25.

5.    Giving a gift to your boss is not a good thing according to conventional wisdom because it might look like you are trying to brownnose him or her. However, a gift that is given from “the office” where everyone has put in a donation is okay since it includes everyone.

Inexpensive (but thoughtful) gift ideas

1.    Homemade Treats: Anything homemade is lovely. I have a good friend who makes a chocolate sauce and puts it in small jars to enjoy heated up on ice cream. It is beyond delicious and something that far exceeds a store-bought gift. Cakes, breads, muffins, cookies and any other baked goods are also good ideas.

2.    Ornaments: I know that after 18 years of marriage and three children, my ornament collection is quite large, but I will say that each time I put an ornament on the tree, I have a quick thought about where I got it or who gave it to me. So, if it is something that means something to the recipient, then go for it!

3.    Fun, Store-Bought Food Items: I found some great ideas on Pinterest that were clever but inexpensive. A bag of good coffee or a bottle of wine are always appreciated, and Pinterest offered some great ideas to jazz up an ordinary present. Inexpensive gift baskets are fun too. One idea for families is the hot chocolate basket—you can include hot chocolate packets, marshmallows and peppermint stirring sticks. The ideas are endless and can be done on a shoestring budget

More to consider

1.    Keep a stash of ready-to-give gifts. They can be wrapped and ready to go with a generic tag from “The Jones Family” attached. Make sure there is a sharpie pen nearby so you can jot a quick “To: John Smith” on the tag. This cache can be added to throughout the year as you see sale items that may work for the holidays. Candles, small notecards, fun kitchen items, ornaments, notepads and more come to mind.

2.    Make a donation to a worthy cause in honor of someone. This is a great way to give to a nonprofit in your town, and will be a nice gesture to the receiver of the gift.

With a little planning ahead making your list and checking it twice, the holidays can be a little less stressful when it comes to gift giving for friends, neighbors and other people who help to make your life enjoyable throughout the year. Now, on to taking that perfect holiday card photo!

Cammie Jones is an Augusta freelance writer and mother of three.

This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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