Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Valentine Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. ~ Voltaire

 Do you want to avoid those awkward moments on Valentine’s Day? Keep a few thoughts in mind as you prepare. Fresh flower purchases still rank number one, capturing 36% of holiday transactions. While men buy mostly for romantic reasons, women use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show they care to mothers, daughters and friends, as well as their sweethearts. Women even treat themselves to Valentine’s Day. If you are cooking on Valentine’s Day, six sexy foods for consideration on the menu include almonds, asparagus, avocados, figs, oysters, and chocolate! Think about these dos and don’ts for love at any stage of the game: (more…)

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A Proper Global New Year’s Eve Toast

Are you looking to add international flair to your New Year’s Eve conversation? After traveling the globe, visiting vineyards and learning to interact with different cultures, I have gained a few insights about how to properly celebrate. One of the oldest of all modern holidays is New Year’s Eve. It was first observed by the ancient Babylonians 4000 years ago. Our current tradition of ushering in the New Year in the U.S. often includes a toast with Champagne or another beverage at midnight!

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Holiday Thanking in Today’s Tight Times

Black Friday weekend 2011 reported a record $52 billion spent by the US consumer. On Cyber Monday 2011, another $1 billion was spent online. But these numbers do not include all seasonal spending. In the US, we brought the ‘tipping’ custom to our shores from medieval England and Europe, and it is now a significant portion of our annual December costs. Yes, it is the most wonderful time of the year; however it can also be the most confusing. Numerous websites provide statistics and guidelines, including Consumer Reports Holiday Tipping Poll, Emily Post Institute and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Consider the following, which may provide insight as you consider holiday tipping and holiday thanking.

1.Holiday Tipping is Holiday Thanking: In the US, we traditionally thank service providers with holiday tips.  Remember the reason for the tip is to show gratitude and to say thank you to loyal and trusted employees, service providers and family care givers. The time from Thanksgiving to New Years is when we take the opportunity to thank those who assist us year-round, even in tough economic times.

2.Make a List & Check it Twice: Prioritize your most important service providers. If someone’s work eases your life immeasurably, that individual should be at the top of your holiday tip list. Tip based on loyalty, and how regularly you see the person. The trusted housecleaner, the dependable nanny, and the care giver for a parent, may receive more than a service provider you see less frequently. Carefully consider all.

3.Budget & Finances: Holiday tipping is not an obligation. It is based on your personal financial status, along with your relationship with the trusted provider. Take the time to determine what is appropriate for you, and your budget. When times and finances are tight, you may not be able to tip with a monetary expression of thanks. Avoid overspending, stay within your budget and do not overextend yourself. January bills are not forgiving!

4.Handwritten Note of Appreciation: Be sure to write a handwritten note of appreciation, with 3-4 sentences.  It can be short; however it should be personal. If appropriate, you may also include a short note about why your tip may be delayed, smaller or non-existent. Otherwise the wrong message is sent, and you risk losing a valued relationship.

5.Be Creative: Handmade cards are memorable, personal touches that add to the holiday spirit and create memories. Think about giving a special treat that you would not buy for yourself. Lovely examples include nice soap, votive candles and gourmet coffee. Reflect on your conversations with the person and determine what could replace a monetary gift, such as a gluten free meal or a sugar free chocolate dessert for a diabetic. Fresh flowers work for someone who likes to make floral arrangements.

As you deliver and make your holiday tips and thanks this year, please keep in mind that these guidelines are are only suggestions. Your common sense plays a role too. Be sure to include a handwritten thank you note with 3-4 sentences, expressing appreciation and gratitude for loyalty and assistance throughout the year.


Holiday Thanking &Holiday Tipping Etiquette Recommendations:

Please keep in mind that each individual must use common sense and decide what is most comfortable and appropriate. This list contains recommendations for holiday thanking or tipping for those who insist on guidelines.  Please remember, these are not rules. Monetary ranges may vary based on common sense, geographical locations, and personal financial situation.s It is not necessary to give both cash and a gift; however, at times a child may wish to give a gift to a babysitter or Nanny in addition to your tip.

Service Provider Options Recommendation
Au pair or live-in Nanny Cash or gift 1 week of pay & card from children
Babysitter Cash 1 evening of pay & card from child
Day Care Center Cash or center gift 1 week – 1 mo. pay & card from child
Live-in Help (cook/butler) Cash & gift 1 week – 1 mo.  pay & gift
Private Health Care Nurse Cash or gift 1 week pay or equivalent gift
Home Health Employees Follow Policy Generous Gift Basket of Holiday Treats
Nursing Home Employees Follow Policy Gift that can be shared by all staff
Housekeeper (once a week) Cash 1 day’s pay
Housekeeper (weekly) Cash /gift 1 week’s pay & possibly gift
Children’s Teacher Follow School Policy Parent’s Pooled funds for Gift Card
Children’s Teacher’s Aid Follow School Policy Parent’s pooled Funds for Gift Card
School Nurse/Secretary Follow School Policy Small gift
Office Assistant Follow Office Policy Holiday Bonus and not a Tip
Hair Designer/Stylist Cash or gift Equiv. of 1 salon visit ($35-$180)
Barber Cash or gift Equiv. of 1 haircut & shave or a gift
Manicurist/Pedicurist Cash Equiv. of 1 visit
Personal Trainer Cash or gift Equiv. of 1 session or a gift
Massage therapist Cash or gift Equiv. of 1 session or a gift
Pet Groomer Cash or gift Equiv. of 1 session or a gift
Doorman Cash or gift $50-100 each; depends on extra duties
Elevator Operat Cash or gift Tenant Tip Pool; $20-50 each
Handyman Cash or gift $20-50 each depending on service
Dog Walker/Pet Sitter Cash 1 week’s pay & paw-print note from pet
Garage attendants Cash or gift $15-40 or small gift
Garbage/Recycling Attendants Cash/ City Regulation $10-30 each for extra effort
Gardener Cash 1 week’s service
Landscaping crew Cash 1 week’s service shared by crew
Newspaper delivery person Cash or small gift $10-35
Personal care giver Cash or gift 1 week-1 mo. pay
Pool Cleaner Cash 1 cleaning session shared by crew
Courier/Package Delivery small gift/no cash Small gift in $20-25 range
FedEx FedEx Policy Non-monetary gifts valued under $75
UPS token gift only warm cookies, baked goods, token gift
US Postal Service Postal regulations Small non-monetary gift less than $20


During the holiday season, US Postal employees may accept snacks, beverages, and perishable gifts such as coffee and iced tea that are not part of a meal. US postal workers may also accept gifts that have little or no intrinsic value that are worth less than $20.00. Perishable food items that are worth more than $20.00, such as candy and cookie tins, and fruit and nut baskets are required to be shared with the entire branch of the post office. Mail carriers are prohibited from accepting cash, checks, money orders, gift cards, foreign funds or any other form of currency.

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