It’s that time of year again to give to those in need and for gifting to or tipping those hardworking individuals who help our lives run more smoothly. Food pantries and shelters are always in need of additional donations, but never more so than during the colder months and the holidays. Then there are home healthcare providers, grocery and food delivery people, trash collectors, newspaper, mail carriers and — of course — anyone who, for example, helps you keep your home clean, your hair coifed and your nails well-groomed.

Holiday tipping is of course nothing new and there is a long list of people, apart from those mentioned above, including the various maintenance personnel who assist many of us in our daily lives. Along with the hospitality industry, many of these service providers lost income in 2020 due to pandemic shutdowns and they are still feeling the fallout from that period of time. A little (or a lot) extra will go a long way. For homeowners and those with children, pets and elderly or infirm family members, the provider list can be even longer. Naturally, The Emily Post Institute has holiday tipping guidelines and a detailed provider list on its website, so check it out for everything you could possibly ever want to know on the subject and then tip or gift according to your list and budget.

My hope, apart from a gentle reminder and etiquette refresher during a time of year when our minds are on countless other things is that those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to share our hard-earned income will open our hearts and our wallets.

Whether it’s to help fulfill a need for monetary assistance or simply to spread a little holiday cheer, holiday giving is a wonderful practice.

Even those who, for instance, have what a secure job and even benefits but may have health issues or a partner struggling with their health or a job loss. As “they” say, we never know what others are going through.

If you don’t have it in your budget to give gifts or cash, a simple card or note or one coupled with homemade cookies or some other treat is sure to brighten someone’s day.

For a list of New Orleans food pantries, visit foodpantries.org. Please give as much as you can this year to the pantries and all your favorite charities.

Operating from a place of kindness and generosity is always appropriate. We all need grace these days, so gifting and tipping aside, if someone snaps at you or cuts you off in traffic, let it slide. The holidays are hard enough for many people, even in a normal year. So many people are sad, lonely and frightened. Please be kind to yourself, and everyone else.