|Are you really obligated to gift everyone who has provided|
you with a service this year?
image by digitalart
There’s a certain expectation around Christmas-time that pretty much every single person you had contact with throughout the year needs some sort of tip or acknowledgement. As lovely as that sounds, for those of us who can barely afford to get gifts for our own families, it can put us in a real bind.
Blog posts and tipping guides abound this time of year, with advice on how to tip everyone from teachers to the person who delivers your mail (who I don’t think I’ve ever met, by the way). One site that claims to be about frugal living offered tipping advice for nannies, personal trainers and house cleaners. Clearly their idea of “frugality” is a tad bit different than mine.
So what am I supposed to do? When the latest tipping advice suggests $15 to $20 gift cards for teachers, child care workers, and so many others, where does that leave me? My son is in middle school – he has six teachers every day, and that doesn’t even include the therapists and other professionals who I think deserve tips more than the teachers. At 20 bucks a pop, that’s $120 right there, over half of this year’s Christmas budget. I can’t afford to get gifts for my friends this year – it seems unfair to be obligated to gift these other people.
What are the consequences if I don’t tip? Is each teacher keeping a list and checking it twice, marking off the kids who brought in a gift card and pledging as a New Year’s Resolution to be much kinder to those kids for the second half of the school year? Will my mail carrier start spitting on my mail if I don’t leave a Starbucks gift card for him in my mailbox next week?
If you have the means to tip and you really feel like saying “Thank you” to someone who has done an exceptional service for you this year, by all means, knock yourself out. But if your budget is already strained to the limit and you are only tipping because of a feeling of societal pressure, maybe you should rethink the reasons behind your tipping.
There’s plenty of ways to say thank you and acknowledge gratitude without buying gift cards or giving cash. A nice homemade treat, especially one that your child helped make, is a great way to say thank you. Better yet – call up the person on the phone and say the words “thank you.” I bet they’ll actually appreciate that even more than the gift card.