If you’re living on a fixed income or a tight budget, you may have small budget for holiday gifts. But what we often forget about are all of those extras — gifts for teachers, hair stylists, babysitters, mail carriers — the list seems to go on and on.
It can be frustrating if you’ve had to cut back on how much you spend on your close family members, yet society seems to obligate you to be generous to all of these other folks, some of whom are practically strangers.
So how can you be frugal and festive? We turned to Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, for her tipping tips.
Be choosy. If you can’t afford a monetary gift for all of the people who’ve helped you throughout the year, scale back your list. “Increase the tip for individuals with whom you have a friendship or those who go above and beyond the call of duty,” says Whitmore. In other words, you can probably skip someone who gives you a few haircuts a year, but not someone who walks your dog every day. Also, keep in mind that certain professionals are technically not allowed to accept tips/gifts over a certain amount anyway (for example, your sanitation worker or postal carrier).
Spread some referral cheer. For any local businesses that would have normally made your gift list, why not create a positive social media post that endorses its services as a way to say thank you? They’ll certain appreciate the goodwill and the referrals, especially if it results in new business for them.
Go in on a group gift. If there is an opportunity to be part of a group collection for a teacher or coach, that will probably be a less costly option than having to buy your own gift. Perhaps you can apply this idea by speaking to your neighbors and friends if you share any services as well.
Give from the heart. For anyone that you’d like to acknowledge but can’t afford to buy for, you can still do so in a less expensive way. “If your budget is limited, opt for a small gift and a thank you note,” says Whitmore. A giant batch of homemade baked goods can go a long way, for example.
Especially in tough times, it really is the thought that counts. As long as you are able to show appreciation in some way to those who’ve earned it, you’ve done your part in spreading holiday cheer.