1. Your Mail Carrier Suggested Tip: Just a gift The U.S. Postal Service forbids carriers from accepting cash gifts. A gift card or a basket of fruit, nuts or chocolates that could serve as an off-duty snack is acceptable. But gifts must be under $20 in value. You could also throw in a glowing letter to a supervisor praising a carrier who was undeterred by snow, rain, heat or gloom of night. Such praise may mean even more than a gift.
2. Your Doorman Suggested Tip: $25 to $100 each Consider opening your wallet for the person who opens your apartment or co-op entrance door all year long. The higher end of the suggested range, or even more if you're feeling extra-generous, is for those who help you the most or provide exceptional service (think heavy grocery-bag luggers or expert taxi-cab hailers). And in high-end neighborhoods (hello, Upper East Side), doormen might be used to pocketing bigger tips. But check with your building association first. You may be able to contribute to a collective fund that will be distributed appropriately to staff members.
3. Your Newspaper-Delivery Person Suggested Tip: $10 to $30 If you tip regularly throughout the year, give your newsie just a few dollars. Or instead of cash, you can give a small gift. Many newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, offer the option of giving a tip to your delivery person online through your subscriber account. But even if you go digital with your tip, you might consider giving your carrier a nice note -- both to express your appreciation and to ensure he knows you tipped him.
4. Your Childcare Provider Suggested Tip: At least a week's pay, plus a small gift from your child. As someone who works closely with you and your child, your nanny or au pair should be at the top of your tip list. Consider adding a week's pay to the tip for each year the nanny has worked for you. For your regular babysitter -- someone you've had watch the kids frequently throughout the year or for last-minute emergencies -- one or two nights' pay is appropriate. A day-care provider might deserve $25 to $70, but check with the facility's policies first.
5. Your Trash and Recycling Collectors Suggested Tip: $10 to $30 each You might hear them coming and going every trash day. But instead of rolling over and hitting the snooze button, around this time of year, consider throwing on your fuzzy slippers and bathrobe and catching some face time with your trash collectors. You should hand them their tips in an envelope with a nice note or holiday card directly. But check on the rules for your municipality. Some jurisdictions forbid workers from accepting cash.
6. Your Child's Teacher Suggested Tip: A thoughtful gift A tip for a teacher could look like a bribe. But a small gift accompanied by a note or drawing from your child is a nice thank-you for an educator's hard work. Or pool your resources with other parents to buy the teacher a gift card. A teacher doesn't need another mug. Just be sure to first check the policies of your child's school: If gifts are forbidden, a note of appreciation is always appropriate.