Holiday manners: How to navigate tipping, gift-giving and regifting
In the rush to do the right thing at the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Finding meaningful gifts for those we love is challenging enough; then comes the mental cataloging of all those folks we appreciate and want to remember.
Co-workers, neighbors, the paperboy, the random person who gave you an unexpected present last year — even giving them all “a little something” can add up to quite a bit of money and effort.
In tough economic times, how should a polite person handle the yawning gap between what we’d like to do and the realities of our budget? Leah Ingram, gift-giving and etiquette guru and author of twelve books including “The Everything Etiquette Book” and “Suddenly Frugal,” breaks down some rules for us.
Is it always necessary to give a gift to someone whose given me one?
A: No. You don’t have to reciprocate if you hadn’t planned on giving that person a gift for the holidays. You can thank them when they give you a gift and say, “I’m so embarrassed, but I don’t have anything for you. But thank you so much. You are so kind.”
What about family members who earn more than I do? What if I just can’t afford to give them the type of gifts they give me?
A: You do not have to match your relatives’ spending dollar for dollar. You should buy and spend what you’re comfortable spending, not what you think everyone else expects you to spend.
What’s an appropriate tip for a paperboy or hairstylist?
A: I usually give 40 percent to someone who provides a service and whom I tip regularly (a hairdresser, for example), and for a paperboy I would recommend between $10 and $25, depending on your economic circumstances. Even a gift card in that denomination is fine.
Are there any rules for regifting, other than not getting caught doing it?
A: Don’t regift something just because you have it. Only regift something that you think someone would truly love. For example, if someone gave me a bunch of gardening paraphernalia, I might keep some but regift the rest to a friend who is a huge gardening fan. See how that works?
MORE HELPFUL TIPS
• If you think you might get confused when regifting — like accidentally giving a gift back to the person who gave it to you! — Ingram suggests keeping a gift log to write down who gave you each gift, then who you gave it to.
• If you have many children to buy for, consider buying $10 gift cards at Toys R Us or Target. Give these to the parents so they can select gifts the kids really want. Try $10 iTunes gift cards for teens and tweens — enough for 10 songs!