Holiday Tipping

How Much Do You Tip At the Holidays? | CorporetteWe’ve talked about what to tip your secretary for the holidays before, but we haven’t talked about the bigger question of other tips and year-end gifts — I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers, so let’s discuss.  First, Reader M wonders:

I have a question about Christmas tipping that I’m sure many of your readers are facing and could potentially advise on. I live in a large apartment building in NY (our rent for a one bedroom is around $3500), and we just received our holiday tipping list and it includes almost 30 people! It ranges from building manager and head handyman to a bunch of doormen and various porters. What is an appropriate amount to give, and how should I divide it up? I’d like to get away with giving around $500, but that doesn’t seem realistic and I don’t want to seem cheap. I know that some people in our building end up just tipping the doormen, but that doesn’t seem terribly fair (though in past years we have ended up tipping the doormen slightly more). None of the guidelines I can find online deal with a building with so many employees!

Next, I can’t find the email right now, but another reader was wondering how much to tip her child’s daycare providers — while her child mainly had two teachers, a number of other floating teachers worked with and knew her child.

So:  YEOUCH. Happy holidays, get ready to give!  I spent a lot of time yesterday reading tipping articles, and a few basic rules apply wherever you are, whatever circumstance you’re worried about:  Tip a lot to continue great service; tip less (but still tip) for people you should tip — look at it as good karma (paying for past services) as well as goodwill (paying for good future services).  As always, I think it’s important to know how much other people are giving in the same situation; a lot of this is about managing expectations. [Read more...]

Coffee Break: Paint Nite

Gift Ideas for Your Significant Other | CorporetteThe hardest gift to get can be for your significant other (or someone similarly close). My latest thing with my husband is getting him/us experiences (either as a couple’s activity or a “get some baby-free time to yourself, love!”). One of our favorite things that we did this year was use a Groupon for Paint Nite. (There are a lot of companies doing the same thing around the country — a friend in the South is a big fan of Painting and Pinot; I’ve seen other mentions of similar companies in my parents’ home town of Cleveland, Ohio.) The basic idea: you go to a bar, get to drink, and an artist takes you through a painting s/he has done, step by step; at the end of the night you go home with your version of the original painting. You get all the supplies you need, and did I mention there’s wine? My husband and I come from vastly different artistic backgrounds — I can barely draw a circle, whereas he nearly went to art school for college — and we both had a bang up time. Admittedly, we have two copies of the same painting now (mine is on the left, his is on the right — it’s supposed to be a dark horizon at night) but the experience was more fun. Other ideas in this line of thinking: a gift certificate for a 2- or 3-hour cooking, bartending, or wine tasting class; a tour of the city (I’m a big fan of Context Tours after an amazing afternoon spent learning about the gardens of Paris; I may have to get the hubs an architecture tour of NYC) — NYC certainly has eating/drinking tours aplenty. Ladies, have you found any other good classes, either through Groupon, word of mouth, or other things?  Two tickets to Paint Nite run $130 (less if you find a Groupon or something, obviously). Paint Nite

Update: Sean from Paint Nite commented below and is offering 45% off classes with code “DrunkenSanta” if you buy tickets before January 1.  Woo hoo!


Coffee Break: Momofuku Milk Bar

Cookies_Compost_Low(1)‘Tis the cookie season — for sending across the country to family and friends, for bringing to parties, for overindulging in general. One of my favorite, favorite (favorite!) indulgences here in NYC is David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar, which ships across the US and to Canada.  The treats are delicious but just a bit unusual — the amazing Compost Cookie (pictured), which includes coffee grounds; the delectable Birthday Cake Truffles; the aptly named Crack Pie — amazing.  You can even buy baking mixes or cookbooks, for those of you not afraid of a blender and oven. Cookie tins start at $12.  Momofuku Milk Bar

Readers, which are your favorite online stores with national shipping for giving/receiving holiday treats?  For those of you who enjoy baking, which are your favorite cookie recipes for holiday events?


Dealing with Holiday Stress

How to Deal with Holiday Stress | CorporetteI’ve seen a lot of friends Facebooking and posting about holiday stress, so I thought we’d have a discussion about it today.  Here are the questions:  Do you get stressed out around the holidays, and why?  (Seeing family? Leaving on vacation? Year-end office stress? Gifts?) How do you deal with the stress? (Mantras? Better personal care, such as working out more regularly or treating yourself to a massage?)  On the flip side — for those of you NOT so stressed, share with us what you like about the season! What do you enjoy the most?

For my $.02, I tend to enjoy the holidays more than stress about them, but that hasn’t always been true.  We almost always spend the holidays visiting my family in Ohio, and back in my law firm days it was always hectic trying to get out of the office on time (and without feeling like I needed to ship a box of paperwork to my parents’ address).  In my single days it seemed to make me feel my most un-coupled (I won’t say lonely since I was always surrounded by family and friends, but not being coupled can be a source of stress in and of itself); now that I do have a husband and child it can be stressful to get the right thing or create the right environment.  (For the first time in my adult life I have a Christmas tree (pictured)!  Amazing!)  As for what I enjoy, I love seeing the cards and messages that come from family and friends, and I love to take stock of how the year has gone (for the business, for the family, for the apartment, etc, etc).  In terms of how I get through it — we try to eat healthy and avoid alcohol on the days that we don’t have social events, and I try to get at least 20 minutes of exercise every day because, everyone can find 20 minutes somewhere, right?

Readers, how about you — is the ending of the year a source of stress or happiness for you?  How do you get through it?

Coffee Break: Fitbit Force Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband

Fitbit Force Wireless Activity + Sleep WristbandI just saw a review on CNET about how the new Fitbit Force is their very favorite fitness tracker, so I thought I’d pick this for today’s gift idea. Tread lightly if you’re thinking of this gift for someone who has not expressed specific interest in a fitness tracker or in getting more fit — it’s easy to offend people when offering fitness-related gifts and advice. That said, if you do have someone in your life who has been (loudly) thinking about it, this might be a great gift for them. It’s $130 at Amazon. Fitbit Force Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband

Readers, what are your favorite tech toys, either that you own now and love, want to own, or are gifting this season?


Coffee Break: Heavyweight Full Zip Hooded Sweatshirt

American Giant Hoodies I had long heard tell of the amazing, highly rated American Giant sweatshirt for men. Great, you think, I’m always looking for a good gift for my husband/brother/boyfriend/father/___. But then you look at the price: $89? For a sweatshirt? After years of postponing the purchase, I finally bit and got one earlier this year for my husband, and I must say it is extremely thick, and the quality seems really high — I have a feeling this one will be around for decades. (They have a midweight sweatshirt and hoodie as well, but the one with all the great reviews seemed to be the heavyweight one, so that’s what I went for.) The sweatshirt is available in black, light gray, dark gray (pictured), navy, and teal, sizes S-XXL. If you’re a new customer, try this link for 15% off. AMERICAN GIANT / Mens Heavyweight Full Zip Hooded Sweatshirt


Looking for more gift ideas? Check ‘em out here.  Readers, what do you get the men in your life?