A holiday bonus guide for your caregivers

Oct. 21, 2019
A holiday bonus guide for your caregivers

When it comes to showing the love to those who care for your kids, pets or aging parents this holiday season, don’t be a Scrooge. Even in a challenging economy when companies slash or kill bonuses, downsize or freeze pay raises, one thing should remain constant — you need to tip your caregivers. Professional nannies and caregivers, like hairdressers and housekeepers, often depend on holiday tips. They rely on that extra money around the end of the year as part of their annual salary or, in some cases, to maintain a living wage.

But how much should you give this year? According to the Care.com 2019 Cost of Holidays Survey, 80% of families polled (4 out of 5) say they give holiday tips, and 20% plan on spending more this year than last year. If you’re new to the world of employing a caregiver and you want to make sure you’re giving the going rate, then heed the tipping guidelines below to make sure that you maintain the proper giving this holiday season. Happy tipping!


A full-time nanny can usually expect a holiday bonus of one to two week's salary. Some will get more (or less), but one week is the norm. Other bonuses can include round-trip airfare to the nanny's home for the holidays, a Caribbean cruise or an iPad. While those are generous bonuses, an extra week's salary is the typical tip. 

Aside from a cash bonus, a thoughtful gift from the children can go a long way. This doesn't have to be a purchased item. A handmade gift the kids make, a card or a drawing can be a special way to show your appreciation. Baking your nanny's favorite cookies or cupcakes is also a sweet way for the kids to say thank you. A gift certificate to her favorite store or spa with a personal note from you expressing your gratitude is another way to show thanks. 

What about vacation time?

Most nannies don't work Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year's. Families should respect the holidays and give their nannies this time off. Should you need your nanny's services these days, plan to compensate them for at least time and a half. Many nannies also take their vacation between Christmas and New Year's to coincide with family vacations or when children are off from school.

Bottom line: Remember that the job is personal. Your nanny is a part of your family. Treat her that way (or better) and remember to show some love.

Part-time babysitters

For the part-time sitter, depending on the hours she works, a $25-$50 gift certificate at her favorite store is an appropriate thank-you. You may also want to get a gift certificate to a nail salon or coffee shop. A card from the kids, some cupcakes or a drawing can also show your appreciation.

Pet sitters/dog walkers

The average tip falls between $35-$60. Most pet sitters or dog walkers expect a holiday tip. They are picking up the poop, entertaining your pooch and keeping them healthy and happy when you're not around. Many people consider their pets to be part of their family, so make sure that you properly recognize the person caring for your four-legged baby.


The range is 50-100% of a housekeeper's usual fee. A thank-you card and a plate of cookies or a bottle of wine is also a nice gesture.

Senior care aides

For a caregiver who is employed by the family, a one week's salary tip is the rule of thumb. A thank-you card or a gift certificate to their favorite store is an appropriate gratuity. You may also consider splurging for a massage, a mani/pedi or some other spa indulgence. A senior caregiver's job can be stressful and physically exhausting. Showing your appreciation, particularly during the holiday season is important.

  • For a caregiver who is employed by an agency, check with the agency about its holiday tipping policy. You can also consider a gift or donation to the agency.
  • For a caregiver who is employed by a facility, check about its tipping policy. You can consider giving a gift to the facility staff, as well.
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