This year, more than any other year in my lifetime, my mind is on giving to those in need and gifting to or tipping the people who have kept us in touch with the rest of the world and stocked up on necessities. Food pantries are hard hit by the fallout of the pandemic and need more donations than ever — sooner rather than later. Then there are home healthcare providers, grocery and food delivery people, trash collectors, newspaper and mail carriers who have continued to provide services throughout the pandemic, many of them putting themselves at greater risk.

Holiday tipping is of course nothing new and there is a long list of people, apart from those mentioned above, such as barbers, hairstylists and maintenance personnel, who assist many of us in our daily lives. Along with the hospitality industry, many of these service providers have lost income due to shutdowns, so 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 year when our minds are justifiably 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. There is a crushing need for monetary assistance or simply a little holiday cheer after the year we’ve all endured and while, for instance, your mail carrier has what is likely a secure government job and benefits, his or her partner may have health issues or lost work and income due to COVID-19. Or, because their workload has increased, they are feeling the associated stress, along with pandemic fatigue to boot. We can all relate to the latter.

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 Please give as much as you can this year to the pantries and all of your favorite charities.

As it is often said, we never know what someone else is going through, so operating from a place of kindness and generosity is always appropriate. We all need grace right now, 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. People are sad, lonely and frightened. Please be kind to yourself, and everyone else.