Tis the season for extra tipping.  How much does the manicurist get?  What about the barber?  And the massage therapist?

My dad was a rural mail carrier in Nebraska, and when I was growing up he would always get tons of baked goods around the holidays.  We were eating fudge for weeks! The postal service has a rule that mail carriers can only accept non-monetary gifts under $20.  Hence the fudge.   FedEx drivers can receive tips and gifts, but not over $75.  UPS says it would rather have its drivers receive gifts instead of cash, but that's up to the customer.

When it comes to people who provide a personal service like hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists. and personal trainers, what's suggested is a cash gift equal to one service.  So if the haircut costs $35, the holiday gift is $35 cash on top of the haircut.

The mobile dog groomer is coming to my house Friday to make Harry the schnauzer look handsome for Christmas, and I have a $15 restaurant gift card for her.  I hope that's enough.  Dog groomers aren't specifically on the USA Today list, but newspaper delivery folks should get $10 to $30 cash, along with baristas and school bus drivers.

I've started keeping a stash of gift cards in a drawer in the kitchen so I can whip them out when I think of someone new that needs a gift.  The kids' teachers, the trash collectors, and the list goes on and on.

I love the giving part of the holidays and I want to do it right.  And besides, we can't forget these people because you know they'll remember the house that stiffed them at Christmas!