Tis' the season friends to acknowledge those around us that make us beautiful, massage our feet, wax our brows, and make life more bearable. I am not sure why these people are only remembered during the holiday season, when we have less money to offer them, but tradition says if it is December look kindly upon them.
As someone that is often recognized at this time of year, an unexpected thank-you or quick note of graditude is greatly appreciated. Something that acknowledges you have a life outside of teaching is fantastic. Another Christmas candle or stale chocolate, please don't waste your money. But, it can be embarrassing to be showered with gifts for doing your job, and insulting to be handed something simply because of obligation.
So how do know how much (or how little) to give? There are guides and experts everywhere, but I think "tipping" is personal and unique to each of our experiences. Think about the people in your life that should be recognized and ask yourself some simple questions. Consider:
1. How long has this person been providing you a service? You would certainly tip your stylist of 10 years more than the lady at the mall you used once. So give your stylist an extra 10% at your holiday visit. She will thank you for it!
2. What is the quality of the service provided? While you are killing yourself on the treadmill, is your trainer finishing his Big Mac? Bring him a Christmas card and a wheat grass shake. You might help him to remember his motivation.
3. How much can you live without it? If you insult them with little or no tip, will you still be reminiscing about that fabulous hot stone massage years from now? Add an extra $5 to their tip and book your next appointment right then. You both benefit!
and maybe most importantly,
4. What is your budget? Can you afford to give your daycare provider the equivalent of an extra week's pay and still afford groceries? No, then give an extra day's pay and have your child pick out a small gift for them. You will melt her heart.
These are all questions that only you can answer. But be as generous as you can. Acknowledge the effort that others give to make you feel special and remember those that others often forget: the bagger at the market, your child's bus driver, the person that holds the door for you, the guys that didn't complain when your garbage cans had some creepy crawlies in the bottom, and that kindly paper boy who actually left your paper on the porch during the rain storm. It doesn't have to be anything expensive, even a small compliment will make their day.
There is nothing in the world like appreciation!