This time of year, we try to think of everybody we're thankful for, and get them a little something. Mail carriers are a big part of our lives, but you need to stop with the gift cards!

There's some central Minnesotans who have a very close bond with their mail carrier, and some that couldn't tell you who delivers their mail nearly every day. Six days a week, and sometimes even on Sundays, they bring your mail to your house. Without them we'd be very inconvenienced.

Regardless of all that, you still should not be attempting to give them a tip or gift card.

I'm not telling you this to be mean or a scrooge, it's because they legally can't accept it. It's the rules of being an employee of the United States Postal Service:

All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.

As you can see, they've made it pretty confusing for the average person. You can, however, give your carrier a "gift" that has a value of less than $20. It just can't be a gift card or cash. Don't gift too much either, as they can't accept multiple gifts throughout the year that total a value of more than $50.

Keep in mind, this does not apply to your friendly FedEx or UPS delivery drivers. They aren't federal employees and CAN accept gifts to the best of our knowledge. Given some of the things they have to carry to your door throughout the year, a simple "thank you" gift will mean the world to them.

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