Holiday Etiquette

Survive Holiday Stress, Letters and Gift Considerations This Season with Expert Etiquette Tips

Posted by Liz Taylor Dec 09, 2010

Each year, the holidays find people stressing out over what to tip and how to handle difficult situations. I hope this blog helps answer tricky questions you might have:

"I’m sending out my annual holiday letter. Is there anything I absolutely need to know?"

Keep your letter limited to 1 page and watch the boasting. You don’t want to give off the “My life is fabulous and don’t you wish you were me?” On the flip side, no one wants to read a play by play of a family member passing away. Keep it as upbeat as possible.

"I’m invited over to someone’s home for a holiday party. What should I bring?"

A host/hostess gift is always a must. Bring a nice bouquet of flowers, nice assortment of chocolates or a beautiful bottle of wine. Never arrive empty handed or you’ll end up having an empty stack of invitations the following year. 

"Where do I draw the gift line?  School teacher, piano teacher, mail carrier, garbage guys, hairdresser, boss, personal trainer… yikes!"

Here is the rule of thumb:

  • Mailman: $20
  • Hairdresser: Give a tip equal to one service. So, if a hair cost is $50, give a $50 tip at year end.
  • Teacher, Day Care or Nanny: Have your child paint or make something special and give a $20 gift. 
  • Trash Collector: $20
  • Dog Walker: The cost of one week’s pay
  • Building Staff: $25
  • House Cleaner: The cost of one service
  • Lawn Crew: $20-$50
  • Personal Trainer: The cost of one session
  • Boss: Something small or a group gift is always a safe bet. You don’t want to come across as the employee that is trying to climb your way up the latter.

As you can see from this information, the typical rule of thumb is to give a tip equal to one unit of service. If you can’t afford to tip, baked goods and a note expressing sincere thanks goes a long way too.

"My coworker gave me a gift the other day and I had nothing for her!  I felt terrible.   What should I do if this happens again?"

Do NOT apologize if someone gives you a gift and you don’t have one for them.  Resist the urge to say that you left their gift at home or it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet- people will know you are fibbing. Say, “Thank you, this is so kind of you” and move on.

"I’ve been invited to a holiday party next week. Is it okay to bring my kids?"

Unless your invitation reads:  ‘Children Welcome’, get a babysitter. Holiday parties are traditionally for adults only.



← Back to all posts


“How refreshing and timely. From the texting generation to the baby boomers—the art of etiquette is sadly disappearing. Whether you just need a touch-up or a full immersion, Liz, is the person to teach you the skills to appear confident, elegant and professional in any business situation. Her energetic and engaging style will make this one of the most enjoyable seminars you have ever taken! Liz is awesome!”

—Chuck Bokar, Principal, Design Resource Center

“Absolutely superb! Liz has an amazing knack for presenting her concepts in a thought-provoking and clear style. Her ideas and suggestions would enhance anyone's ability to bridge the gap between business and etiquette. She clearly has a deep understanding of not only the topic, but the thought processes that go into creating better interpersonal relationships out of socially awkward situations. I highly recommend her and her coursework...she will help your business!”

—Brad Guck, District Manager, Administaff

“Liz, Thank you so much for coming to Indianapolis to help us grow our skills as professionals and as people. Your presentation helped us address issues with grace, candor, sensitivity – as well as fun! You were fabulous!”

—Betsy Hamlett, Director of Sales for Kenra, Ltd.

All testimonials...