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Christin Perry

Your Holiday Tipping Guide: What to Give Your Childcare Provider

They do so much for you and your child all year long—now is the time to say thank you, with the help of a holiday tip or gift. Here’s what’s appropriate to give.

The holiday season is a time to show others how much you appreciate them—so when it comes time to dole out presents and holiday tips, don’t forget to include your child’s care provider! Whether you employ a full-time nanny or au pair, use a babysitter on the regular or send your tot to daycare, a tip or gift is a thoughtful way to thank the person who cares for your little loved one when you’re not there. And the more your provider feels appreciated, the happier and more motivated they’ll be in their job.

But what’s appropriate to give a care provider for the holidays? Is it best to give a gift, or cold hard cash? Turns out, it’s totally up to you! “Don’t feel like you have to tip your au pair or nanny a lot of money—or at all, if you’re purchasing holiday gifts for them,” say Evie Granville and Sarah Davis, the etiquette experts behind the website Modern Manners for Moms and Dads. “Gifting and tipping can become quite expensive, so don't feel obligated to do both.”

If you decide to go the tipping route, how much should you give? Or if you opt for a present, what would make a great gift? Read on for everything you need to know, for every type of caregiver.

What to Give Your Nanny

How much to tip your nanny

If you have a nanny who’s working full-time for your family, consider tipping a full week's pay if you choose to skip a gift. If that seems like a lot, remember how much you look forward to that end-of-year bonus at work! It feels great to be appreciated for a job well done, and let’s face it—life would be way harder without your nanny’s help, right?

What to gift your nanny

iIf a tip seems too impersonal, we’ve got a few fabulous gift ideas.

Photo: Courtesy Spa Finder

You need some dedicated “me” time every now and then, right? Chances are, your nanny does too! She works hard every day to keep your kids safe and happy, so treat her to a spa day on her next day off with a SpaFinder gift card. It can be used at thousands of spas across the country, and it never expires!

Buy it: SpaFinder Gift card, SpaFinder.com

Photo: Courtesy Fitbit

Help your nanny track her steps as she chases your kids around with a fitness tracker. For a high-end tracker that pretty much does it all, we love the Fitbit Charge 3. It has an interactive touch-screen display, tracks tons of activities like walking, biking and swimming (bonus points for it being waterproof!), and it can even track sleep quality.

Buy it: Fitbit Charge 3, $128, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Herschel Supply Co.

As a mom, you know how important it is to have a fantastic catch-all bag for everything life throws at you on a daily basis. And since your nanny is with your kids all day, she likely understands the importance of a great bag too. Gift her one that doesn’t scream “diaper bag” with this chic canvas shoulder bag by Herschel Supply Company. This understated but attractive bag can easily handle everything she needs!

Buy it: Mica Canvas Tote, $50, Nordstrom.com

What to Give Your Daycare Providers

What to tip your daycare providers

If your kids go to daycare, you may want to gift their daycare providers something special during the holiday season to let them know you appreciate their hard work throughout the year. In this case, it’s fine to keep things small. A tip or gift in the range of $25 to $50 per provider is appropriate, depending on your family's budget, the cost of your childcare and the number of caregivers there are, Granville says.

What to gift your daycare providers

We’ve come up with some great gift ideas for daycare providers:

Photo: Courtesy Bullet

Help your daycare provider keep her busy life in line with a bullet journal. All the rage in recent years, bullet journals are an excellent way to keep your life organized and your goals top of mind. Make it extra-special by personalizing it with your provider’s name or initials.

Buy it: Bullet Journal, $25, BulletJournal.com

We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love to be on the receiving end of these drool-worthy chocolate-covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries. Enough said.

Buy it: Shari’s Berries Dipped Strawberries, $25-40, Berries.com

Photo: Courtesy Vic Tsing

It’s no secret daycares have their share of funky smells to deal with, so when your child’s teacher heads home, you better believe she wants a sweet-smelling room. Why not gift her an essential oil diffuser? This model, by VicTsing, makes a great choice: It offers three timer options and 14 soothing LED light colors.

Buy it: VicTsing Essential Oil Diffuser, $20, Amazon.com

Au Pair

What to tip your au pair

If you employ an au pair or a live-in nanny, a holiday tip and a few gifts may be in order. “Live-in nannies and au pairs can be extensions of the family, and may be included in some holiday events,” says Elizabeth Malson, president of Amslee Institute, an online school with a curriculum for professional nannies and sitters. “A gift exchange during dinner can also be a nice way to celebrate.”

Consider tipping your au pair a least one week’s pay to make her feel appreciated. Running low on funds? Give her an IOU for several paid days off in the coming year. This is something you can have professionally printed and tucked into an attractive envelope, or stuffed into her Christmas stocking. Another monetary gift for an au pair could be travel tickets, either for a trip home or for a vacation. Au pairs hired from abroad especially appreciate funds for travel and time off to visit a new destination in the US, Granville says.

What to gift your au pair

Looking for some gift ideas for your au pair? Check out these just-right ideas for some inspiration.

Photo: Courtesy Madewell

Your au pair will love having her own bag to store all her stuff, especially if she’s planning to travel during her stay in the US. We love this roomy leather tote from Madewell that offers tons of storage space and comes in four color options.

Buy it: Transport Tote, $168, Madewell.com

Photo: Courtesy Pottery Barn

Keep your au pair feeling cozy and warm with a luxurious bathrobe and slippers. This lightweight but super-soft robe from Pottery Barn makes an excellent choice, and can be monogrammed with her initials as well. The matching booties, sold separately, are heavenly for lounging.

Buy it: Marleigh Lightweight Robe, $50, PotteryBarn.com; Marleigh Cozy Booties, $39, PotteryBarn.com

Photo: Courtesy Amazon

When those run-of-the-mill wants and needs unexpectedly pop up, it’s not just moms who turn to Amazon. An Amazon gift card is one of the best gifts for an au pair—it’ll give her some extra purchasing power to get whatever she desires.

Buy it: Amazon Gift Card, amount varies, Amazon.com

What to Give Your Babysitter

What to tip your babysitter

If you use a babysitter, they probably don’t spend quite as much time with your kids as a nanny. “If we're talking about a babysitter you use on a really infrequent basis, holiday tipping isn't necessary,” Granville says. But if you call on them pretty regularly to watch your kids, or if you use them around the holidays, a small gift may be appropriate as a token of your appreciation.

If you choose to give cash, give the equivalent of one night’s pay (around $30 to $75, depending on regional differences), Malson says.

What to gift your babysitter

If you choose to give your babysitter a gift, consider these options:

Photo: Courtesy Loong Son

This fun little gadget lets you use your smartphone as a movie projector. Your babysitter will love playing movies and YouTube videos with their friends, or even outside to put on a movie under the stars!

Buy it: LoongSon Mini Portable LED Projector, $45, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Minted

If you’re looking for an inexpensive gift that just about anyone would love, a journal is always a great bet. We love this fun, fully customizable journal. You can choose to style it as an 80-page journal, weekly or monthly planner or address book.

Buy it: Hello Fiddle Leaf Fig Notebook, $16, Minted.com

Photo: Courtesy Skull Candy

These wireless, sound-blocking headphones are all the rage among music-lovers. They’re high-quality, over-ear headphones that deliver superior sound quality and a snug, comfy fit. What’s more, your babysitter can choose from a huge assortment of “skins,” giving give their headphones a customized look.

Buy it: Skullcandy Hesh 3 Headphones, $78, Amazon.com

Published December 2018

PHOTO: Petri Oeschger