When Giving To...
... coworkers and business associates. Generally, gifts aren't exchanged at the office unless it's a part of a holiday party. An exception is when a group pools resources for a shower or retirement gift for a coworker. Business gifts should not be of a personal nature. If you wish to exchange gifts with a colleague whom you see socially, do it outside the office to avoid offending others.
... doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. While professionals aren't given gifts for services rendered, a patient or client may wish to express special thanks for extraordinary consideration or to give a holiday gift. In such cases, the following gifts are appropriate: a fruit or specialty food basket; homemade cookies; a bottle of wine or spirits; or a gift certificate for two to a nice area restaurant.
... nurses. Gifts of money should never be offered to hospital nurses, but cookies, candy, fruit, or flowers that can be shared or enjoyed by everyone at the nurses' station is always welcome. If the nurse or caregiver is an independent, then the choice of gift, including cash, is up to you.
... teachers. Christmas, Chanukah, and end-of-year gifts are probably the most common times for giving gifts to teachers. Always check the school's gift policy first, and involve your child in the choice or creation of the gift if you can.
... clergy. It's appropriate to give a member of the clergy a gift at holiday time, for a birthday, for an ordination, or when he or she leaves for another post or retires. Any of the following would make suitable presents: books; a magazine subscription; tickets to the movies, theater, symphony, or sporting event; specialty or homemade food items; a gift certificate; a wristwatch; a leather diary or address book, wallet, or briefcase.
... household help. Holiday gifts are given to live-in housekeepers and other household help, usually as an accompaniment to any bonus or cash gift. Typical gifts include articles of clothing; soaps or lotions; items related to a special interest; or something for their rooms. A nanny or au pair would receive a present from the children in addition to any gift or bonus from the parents.
... service providers. During the holiday season it's customary to thank the people, seen and unseen, who help your life run smoothly throughout the year. While you might choose to give cash to a doorman or newspaper deliveryperson, a gift may be more appropriate for someone with whom you have a personal or long-term relationship, such as a hairstylist. Choose a gift that's personalized, but not too personal.