Looks like we’ve reached the holiday-stretch. You’ve probably gotten all your shopping done and have your presents wrapped, but what about those people who didn’t make the Christmas list? I’m talking about the mailman, you hair stylist, kid’s teachers and so on. It is hard to calculate how much to give and what to give to the people who brighten up your day.

Last year we came out with a Holiday Tipping Guide that outlined how much to give around the holidays. While many of those figures still ring true, you may be on a different budget this year.

Gift Receipts Hit Peak Popularity

The National Retail Federation found that total of 61.9 percent of holiday shoppers are planning on giving a gift receipt this year — the highest in the surveys history. Meaning most people have no idea what to give to their loved ones this holiday season. With the sharp increase of gift receipts, maybe you should look into gift cards so people can get what they want.

If you are one of those old-fashioned people who wants to put a little thought and effort into the gift giving process or think cash is more appropriate, give it up! Gift cards are quickly becoming the new standard, but before you go and run out to get your target gift card for the nanny, review our very own Carolyn Okomo’s tips on purchasing gift cards.

Utilize Your Inner Artist

If doling out gift cards is still a little too hefty for your budget, then get creative! You can never go wrong with some home-baked goodies, well actually, let me take that back. You can’t go wrong with home-baked goodies as long as they account for the plethora of allergies out there.

Plutor/Flickr source

You could also make some cool holiday candles or potpourri, but make sure you know what you are doing. You don’t want your holiday gift to look like a failed attempt out of kindergarten. Also, make sure you know the person you are giving it to. You may want to give your hair stylist a little something, but a knitted scarf may not necessarily as appreciated as you’d like.

Cash is King

You really can’t go wrong with giving cash this holiday season. If there are service people in your life that you are close to and would like to give out a holiday a bonus, a good rule of thumb is usually giving them the equivalent of one visit this includes; babysitters, hairdressers, landscapers.

For professions that have a tip included in the session you can choose to double the tip. For people you see more often such as handymen, doormen, or your landlord anywhere from $50-$100 is appropriate.

Marina Shifrin

Marina is a staff writer for MyBankTracker.com. She is an expert in college finances, consumer spending and banking.