Tip the trash collector? Etiquette experts say, ‘Yes’



For teachers:

— Gift certificate to a bookstore or coffee shop.

— Homemade bookmarks, cookies or handwritten notes.

As children get older and begin to have more than one teacher, handwritten notes may be the best option, said etiquette expert Leah Ingram.

“Teachers are often only in contact with a parent when something’s wrong,” which is why a small present from a parent or child is a nice gesture, she said.

For service providers:

—Check with service providers for their company’s policy on employees receiving gifts. Most places likely will be comfortable delivering handwritten notes or homemade baked goods to an employee or group of employees.


— The people who style your hair, do your nails, deliver your newspaper or baby-sit your kids likely don’t work for a government entity that prohibits gifts or extra tips.

With that in mind, a holiday tip, or bonus, is advisable. According to http://www.party411.com, salon workers should be tipped at least $15 and a nanny or baby sitter should receive an extra $20 to $50, particularly if they are working for you on New Year’s Eve.

Advice from The Emily Post Institute

When it comes to proper manners and etiquette, few sources are more widely known than The Emily Post Institute.

Founded by Emily Post in 1946, the institute is run today by her descendents. Peggy Post, Emily’s great-grandaughter-in-law and author, also had words of advice on the topic of holiday gift giving to those outside the extended family.

First, it is widely known that not everyone celebrates Christmas the same way or at all. However, it is acceptable to give gifts and cards to people who don’t celebrate Christmas, Post said.

If that’s the case, Post suggests people stick to secular greetings. Also, keep in mind that unexpected gifts don’t have to be reciprocated.

When in doubt about what to give, gift certificates are acceptable, but Post warned against giving anything too personal or expensive, jewelry for example, to someone such as a coworker or service provider.

For those who think they are done holiday gift shopping, or at least done planning their holiday gift lists, think again.

According to etiquette experts, some Americans forget to give holiday gifts or tip those who are part of their regular lives, be it their child’s teacher, the trash collector, a baby sitter or dog groomer.

But before you curse the etiquette experts for suggesting you spend more money in what may be a tight budget year, please, hear them out.

The holidays are an important time to acknowledge those who may never be thanked and you don’t have to break the bank to give them gifts, experts agreed.

“Sometimes, a heartfelt handwritten note will be worth more than all the money you could spend on a gift card,” said Leah Ingram, one of those etiquette experts.

Ingram, author of 12 books including “The Everything Etiquette Book,” has had articles published in Parade and InStyle magazines and has been interviewed on CNN and by The Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Ingram thinks service providers regularly involved in your life deserve to be acknowledged during the holidays.

For example, a child’s teacher deserves some sort of present such as a gift card or a note, Ingram said.

Again, showing appreciation doesn’t have to be elaborate.

“You don’t want to go out and get a teacher’s gift and feel buyer’s remorse. It’s supposed to be a good feeling. If you know you can’t spend what you wish you could, that’s where the handwritten note comes in,” Ingram said.

Jeff Kirtland, spokesman for School District 51, said the school district has a policy against the frequent giving of gifts by one child to a teacher. It also frowns on giving expensive or elaborate gifts to district personnel.

However, children giving small gifts to teachers during the holidays isn’t out of the ordinary, Kirtland said. It is wise for parents to check with a school district regarding a gift-giving policy.

But etiquette experts such as Ingram don’t think people should stop with teachers.

“What I sort of think the rule is, the service providers you deal with on a regular basis, it’s probably nice to recognize them on the holidays,” Ingram said.

Hairstylists, postal carriers and trash collectors are examples of professionals involved in people’s lives on a regular basis who deserve something extra during the holidays.

Some of those individuals may be municipal employees and, as is the case with school districts, municipalities may have policies about gift giving.

The city of Grand Junction doesn’t allow employees to accept gifts. A note to an individual trash collector or to a group of city employees would be acceptable, said Kristin Winn, spokeswoman for the city.

She doubted city employees often received any holiday “thank you’s” for their work.

How people choose to recognize baby sitters, dog walkers, delivery people, hairstylists and others is an individual decision, Ingram said.

For some people, it’s giving an extra monetary tip.

For other people, it’s something specific, such as purchasing a manicure for a daycare provider up to his or her knees in dirty diapers.

Giving and receiving holiday gifts should leave smiles on people’s faces, according to “The Etiquette of Holiday Tipping” by Dr. Jodi Stoner, a clinical psychotherapist, and Lori Weiner, a life coach.

“Remember, do only what you can afford,” the women wrote.


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