Expert tips for finding the perfect gifts for the people who help you out all year long.
When it comes to gift giving, you may already include occasions to show appreciation those people around you—your child’s teacher, your hairstylist, the pet sitter—who provide essential help and services throughout the year. And if you don’t, there are reasons why adding them to your list is a good idea.
After all, it’s not simply good etiquette to show your appreciation with gifts to the people who enrich your life; the act of gift giving can actually deepen existing bonds between people, says gift expert Aileen Avery, author of Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving. “There’s no one on this planet who doesn’t feel good when their efforts are being applauded, thanked, and appreciated,” she says.
So how should you thank your nanny, your office staff, and others for their hard work? “It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant,” Avery says. “Maybe it’s just a little something to say, ‘Hey, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, my family, and my children.’”
Here, Avery shares her strategies for finding the right gift for the people you appreciate, along with some gift ideas and suggestions on how much to spend.
For your personal trainer and hairstylist
How much to spend: The cost of one training session or hair appointment.
Gift ideas: Pay attention to what your trainer or stylist talks about or surrounds themselves with. For example, if she chats about recipes she’s trying at home, gift her a food container for meal prep or a new cookbook from her favorite celebrity chef.
For your child’s teachers and other school staff
How much to spend: Under $25 per person.
Gift ideas: Back away from the apples and handmade macaroni necklaces—those are cute gifts from kids but think about how you want to say thank you for all these people do. Teachers often spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on classroom supplies and extras for your kids, so a gift card to her favorite supply store is basically putting money in her pocket. Or try something that will make her day better—like an insulated coffee mug—since you know she doesn’t have time to dash out for refills. A handwritten note from your child helps personalize the gift.
For your nanny or daycare staff
How much to spend: “If your nanny is part of the family, spend what you would on a family member,” Avery says. “Maybe around $100.” For daycare staff and tutors, spending between $25 and $50 is appropriate.
Gift ideas: Chances are you know a little about this individual’s interests and personal style, so it’s safe to lean into that knowledge. Clothing, or outerwear like an elegant scarf, hat, or gloves could be both practical and personal. Enlist your child’s help in picking out the gift so that they feel involved.
For your housekeeper, cleaning staff, doorman, and building staff
How much to spend: For housekeepers, between $25 and $40, or the cost of one cleaning session. A doorman or superintendent should be tipped between $75 and $200, depending on the type of services they’ve provided. If they stay late to personally deliver a package to your door, for example, take that into account.
Gift ideas: Since a year-end tip might make up part of their expected earnings for doormen and other building staff, cash is a wise move around the holidays. As an added bonus or for other times of the year, you can add small gifts as well for staff to whom you want to give an extra thanks. If, for example, you know your doorman is a bookworm, gift him one of this year’s best-sellers.
For the dog walker, pet sitter, and groomer
How much to spend: The cost of one session.
Gift ideas: Tap into your silly side and pretend the present came directly from Fido. “Personality and humor go a long way to make a great gift,” Avery says. She suggests giving them useful items like reusable water bottles and hand warmers (which go missing on walks), along with sentimental items like a framed photo of your pet.
For coworkers, office assistants, and building staff
How much to spend: Aim for around $50 for assistants or close coworkers, and slightly less for staff. “If I’m a manager, I’m going to spend a little more money on a gift,” Avery says. “Your assistant deals with things when they go wrong. They’re there for you.”
Gift ideas: Cash tips are great for building staff. For assistants or coworkers, keep it professional but not impersonal. If you have a big reader on your team, buy her a new novel. Or gift your assistant an elegant pen, sleek notebook, or journal. Alternately, you could buy something for your whole team to share in the office, such as an espresso maker or tea service, or take everyone out for a fun activity.
For more inspiration for great gifts for coworkers, explore this shoppable collection of gift ideas.
For postal workers and delivery services
How much to spend: Between $10 and $20. Postal workers, notably, can only accept gifts worth up to $20.
Gift ideas: A handwritten card, small cash tip, or consumable gift—such as homemade bread, chocolate-covered espresso beans, or a gourmet olive and vinegar set—work well.
And lastly, remember the old adage: It’s the thought that counts. So don’t stress too much about finding the perfect thing for each person. “Studies have shown that the person giving the gift is much more anxious than the person receiving the gift,” Avery says. “But we all like to get gifts, regardless of what they are.”