The Right Gift for the Mailman

Rules for Saying Thank You to Your Favorite Postal Carrier

Mailman Christmas
There are Rules for Giving Gifts to Letter Carriers. Dorann Weber / Contributor / Getty Images

If you're trying to find the right gift for the mailman, here are a few simple rules for what postal carriers are allowed to accept, according to ethics guidelines for federal workers including those for the United State Postal Service (which falls under the executive branch of the United States Government.)

Postal workers are generally prohibited from accepting gifts valued at more than $20 from customers and coworkers, but there are some exceptions.

A Gift for the Mailman: What the Rule Book Says

The Code of Federal Regulations Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, Part 2635, Subpart B states:

Federal employees cannot accept a gift as a result of their federal employment. 

What this means exactly is that a postal worker can't actually accept a gift from you just because he or she delivers your mail, but can only accept a gift if a personal relationship already exists between you two.

If you decide to ignore the rule, any gifts exceeding the $20 limit or for gifts where a value of the item can not be easily determined, your mailman must reimburse you for the cost of the item — this is done in two ways: By returning the gift or by sending financial reimbursement.

The second option means that if you were to give your mailman a bouquet of flowers exceeding $20, your mailman would then have to figure out the actual value and send you a reimbursement for the full value.

Your intentions may have been sweet, but now your mailman has to make an extra effort to find the actual cost of your gift and then pay you the full amount of what the flowers cost out of their own pocket — that doesn't seem like much of a gift does it?

Acceptable Gifts for the Mailman

Some acceptable gifts for your mail delivery person include:

  • modest refreshments such as coffee, doughnuts, cookies or soda;
  • plaques, trophies and other items intended for presentation;
  • perishable items such as food, candy, fruit or flowers so long as they are to be shared with other postal workers;
  • and retail gifts cards with a value of less than $20 that cannot be converted to cash.

Unacceptable Gifts for the Mailman

Postal workers are prohibited from accepted the following items:

  • cash
  • checks
  • stocks
  • liquor
  • anything that can be exchanged for cash
  • anything of monetary value such as meals, gift certificates, event tickets, and clothing.

Perhaps the best gift for your mailman is simply a heartfelt card saying "Thank you." To step it up, you may want to show your appreciation by actually penning a letter of appreciation addressed to the postmaster of the particular office that your mailman works at. 

In your letter, you can outline the countless times your mailman has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your mail gets to you in one piece and on time. Your letter of appreciation is then added to your mailman's personnel file once it has been read by their superiors.