The holidays are a perfect time to thank the people who provide great services all year long. An envelope of cash is nice, but a gift shows you took extra time to appreciate someone’s hard work.

If you are stuck on ideas for the babysitter or cleaning crew, check out these one-size-fits-all gifts.


People still appreciate the opportunity to sit down to a movie and relax for a while. Consider a movie theatre or gift card. Or purchase a gift card from and wrap it up with microwave popcorn and M&M’s.


This is the perfect gift for the babysitter with her first car, a male teacher or coach. Consider a gift card for gas, an oil change or car wash. Other ideas are air fresheners, ice scrapers or an emergency road kit.

Good Health

Create a basket with hand sanitizer, individual tissue packs, lip balm, hand cream and cough drops. Not sure if they like cherry or honey flavor? Consider adding a drug store gift card. Your babysitter might enjoy a gift card to buy cosmetics.

Good Food

Choosing a restaurant gift card can be tricky. Someone may have food preferences or allergies you don’t know about. Multi-restaurant gift cards such as those from let the recipient choose.

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

A subscription can be enjoyed long after the holidays are over. Let the receiver choose from over 3,000 titles with a gift card to

A Gift That Freezes Time

Many local, professional photographers offer mini photo sessions that include five or six digital images. These are perfect for headshots, senior portraits, an updated family picture or just the opportunity to be silly. If that is a little out of your budget, a mall studio like The Picture People might be a better fit.

A Gift of Choice

Sometimes the best gift is one you can pick out for yourself. Give an Amazon or eBay gift card, and you open the door to countless options. If online shopping is too difficult for older recipients, a Visa gift card can be used at local stores, restaurants or for most services.

It’s a Wrap

The coolest gift I received from a customer was a box of wrapping paper. It is something we all need during the holiday season. This is an inexpensive gift if purchased at the end of the season or at the dollar store. Create a gift of matching paper or gift bags, tissue, gift tags, ribbons and bows. Don’t forget to include tape and scissors.


Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three.





Holiday Tipping


Money is the most popular holiday tip, but how much should you give? It’s customary to make it the cost of the service. For example, if your normal haircut is $40, then the holiday tip should be another $40.


For occasional service, like a holiday cleaning, a $10 to $15 tip is appreciated. Tips for more regular service, such as a math tutor, can be based on how often you use them and how much help they provide—$25-$50 is appropriate.


Many companies limit what their employees can accept, so check ahead of time. For example, the U.S. Postal Service cannot accept gifts worth more than $20, and alcohol is prohibited.



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