How to Navigate Gifting Season While Keeping Your Cool

Gratitude is obligatory, but panic shopping out of guilt is not. Sabira Bandali, the founder of the online magazine Haul of Fame, suggests that if you’re caught empty-handed, just express your sincere thanks either in person or in a note, and then surprise the giver with a gift at the next occasion that warrants one.

Gifting up, or buying for your managers, should not be an expectation. You give the gift of time and energy to them on many other days of the year. However, the holidays are an excellent time for bosses to show their appreciation for their team members with a thoughtful holiday gift. And what if a co-worker unexpectedly hands you a wrapped box? See the previous answer.

The consensus is clear: Cash is king when it comes to thanking the people who make our lives easier all year long. The gesture is stronger, though, if you include a handwritten note and give it to them directly.

In terms of numbers, a good rule of thumb when gifting cash to someone you regularly pay, such as a housekeeper, is to give them whatever their usual fee is again as a holiday bonus. If you’re gifting money to someone you don’t typically pay, such as a building superintendent or a security guard, simply give as much as you reasonably can. What’s generous for you may be more or less than what’s generous for your neighbor, but the important thing is you’re being just that: generous. And if you’re on a tighter budget, that handwritten note or some homemade baked goods can help to show your appreciation.

(A note about postal workers: They are not supposed to accept cash or even gift cards, but they can accept a gift worth $20 or less, so something like artisanal coffee or candy would be a suitable choice.)

D.I.Y. is the way to go, says Mr. Kucharson. If you’re smart, one project can go the distance by making a single gift cover multiple people. For example, you could digitize old family photos or videos and share them with every member of the family. Other no-budget ideas include babysitting, planning a hike or a beach day, compiling a digital recipe book or creating a personalized playlist.

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