Gottsman recommends writing something like this: “2010 has been both personally and professionally challenging, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your wisdom, strength and support over the past year. I anticipate a much better 2011 and look forward to sharing my blessings with you! Happy New Year."
And if you weren't able to hand out tips last year, and this year you are able to, Gottsman says there is no reason to try to make up for it. “Just give what you are comfortable giving this year and move forward,” she says.
Write a note. “Don’t just stuff a $50 in some one’s hand. Write a letter,” says Mitchell. “It makes people feel special.”
A handwritten note is preferred over a pre-written card. In the letter, thank them and tell them you appreciate the work they’ve done over the past year.
Don’t forget the unseen workers. “People tend to overlook the newspaper delivery person,” says Mitchell. You may never see the person who delivers the paper or the garbage collectors hauling your trash at dawn, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be acknowledged. It’s worth waking up a bit earlier to catch them one morning and give them their gift.
Another often neglected group are postal delivery people. Although most have rules about receiving cash (see tip No. 5 for more on that) a small gift is a nice way of saying thanks.
Know the rules. Some organizations may not allow their employees to receive gifts or cash, so make sure to check. The United States Post Office prohibits their employees from taking cash or gifts over $20. Fedex also doesn't allow cash tips, but allows gifts under $75 and UPS discourages tipping, but allows employees to accept them if the customer insists. To be safe, give them something like chocolates or a coffee shop gift card.
Other people, such as an office assistant or a teacher, should not be given a cash tip. Assistants should be given a bonus and teachers should get a gift instead, as cash may seem like a bribe.