Holiday Gift Etiquette: Who To Cash And Who Not To?

Holiday Gift Etiquette: Who To Cash And Who Not To?
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While gifting your mom or your man can be as challenging as finding the perfect pair of jeans, thinking up great gift ideas for those not as close to you poses even more of a conundrum, especially if your daily interaction with the person is limited to them asking you to fetch their files from the printer. After all, we non-Grinchers like to think that it’s the thought that goes into a gift that matters but putting any thought into the process becomes near impossible when said giftee is a mere acquaintance in your life.

To get a little more insight on what we should be giving (or not giving) these people who pop up in our daily lives, we consulted gift trend expert Dana Holmes of mega gifting database Having been in buying and trend forecasting for almost 10 years, Dana is like a walking gift encyclopedia herself, and she had plenty of gift ideas and tips to share with us. Click through to find out what you should be giving your door man, neighbor and others this holiday season.

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Neighbor: Etiquette for gifting your neighbor varies greatly depending on your relationship with the person and how affluent your neighborhood is, but "if you spend a lot of time with your neighbor, it would be great to give them something you can share," says Dana. Her suggestion? Try this wine tasting sampler of 6 miniature wines that comes with a gift card for the one you end up liking best. Overall, sticking to a $20-$50 price range is your best bet. Six Pinot Noirs Tasting Bundle, $50, at

Boss: When it comes to gifting the higher ups, Dana suggests taking one of two routes depending on if you work for a more serious boss or one that can take a joke: "You can either go the lighthearted way to keep the mood fun or get a more serious gift. You definitely don't want to spend more than $25- $50 on your boss, but you have to consider your office. If you're a hedge fund trader then maybe you do."

Dana also says that a simple card thanking your employer for being a good boss (without kissing up too much of course) will be equally as appreciated. If you are blessed with a more fun boss, though, consider these Bucky Balls as a lighthearted gift to inspire some office fun. Bucky Balls, $34.99, at PerpetualKid

Assistant/Intern: According to Dana, spending $50 or more is an appropriate budget for gifting your assistant – depending on your status level at the company and how long they've been working for you (if you're the President with a long-time assisstant, that number should be much higher).

Dana says, "since your assistant does all the work for you, this would be a good time to show him or her that you've been paying attention. You want to avoid things that are too personal like perfume or clothes, but you also want to avoid something that's too practical since they're practical all year for you." She suggests a stylish home accent like this one from Saks, or a gift certificate to a nice local restaurant. Nambé Butterfly Bowl, $115-150, at Saks Fifth Ave

Postman: By law, you can't give civil service workers cash, so tipping your postman is a no no. "Give them something worth up to $20," Dana suggests, "but if you want to give a gift, gift cards are always great for a coffee shop nearby so they can warm up along their route – or get them a cold weather accessory like a scarf or gloves – something to get him through the cold weather months." Merino Wool Gloves, $24.50, at Banana Republic

Personal Trainer: While it may seem obvious, Dana says to stay away from gifts like chocolate or candy and instead stick to tips somewhere between $60-$100 or the cost of one session. But if you feel strongly about giving something more substantial, gift cards are always a good way to go – or give your trainer some customized nutrition bars.
Customized Nutrition You Bars, $2.99 per bar, at YouBar

Dog Walker: For a dog walker, the budget is about 1-2 weeks pay. "A great way to show your walker that you feel her pain, is to include a gift certificate to a pedicure or some sort of reflexology session." SpaFinder Gift Certificate, $50, at SpaFinder

Babysitter: For gifting the babysitter, Dana says that you can get away with cash (adding up to one or two nights pay), but gift cards are an awesome way to go. Dana's suggestions: Fandango and iTunes gift cards, or if she's college bound, you can't go wrong with a gift ceritficate to Bed, Bath and Beyond or Target. "Get her something that shows her you know her interests. Another cute touch is a homemade gift from your child, like a little ornament," Dana suggests. Fandango Bucks, $50, at Fandango

Teacher/Professor: "You want to spend $25 to $100, depending on your relationship with the teacher. A unique house plant is something beautiful and something they can enjoy while grading papers. Or you can get the class to chip in on something more personal like cooking classes or an iPad." Before gifting your teacher, however, first check the school's policy on gift giving because it might be against school rules. Dana also adds, "If you have many teachers, you are not obligated to buy gifts for them all." Potted double stem white orchid, $49.99, at Proplants

Building Employees: For people who work in your apartment bulding, like a super or door man, tips are always appreciated, but here's something to keep in mind: "The IRS considers tips income, so it's best to tip them in cash and let them decide what they want to do with it," says Dana.

The budget range is pretty broad, but expect to tip anywhere from $10 to $100 for a door man depending on how close you are, but don't think that you have to spread the tips equally. "Those who serve you more should definitely get a bigger tip!" says Dana.

Hairstylist/Beautician: As a holiday sentiment, expect to tip your stylist approximately the cost of one session, however, if you've been visiting the same person for years, a more personal gift is also appropriate.

Something to keep in mind: "If it's the owner that does your hair or nails, they might refuse a cash tip, so a gift might be better if you're working directly with the owner," says Dana.

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Beauty Holiday Gift Guide: Scents Edition

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