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A holiday bonus guide for your caregivers

Wendy Sachs
July 25, 2017

When it comes to showing the love to those who love your kids, your pets or your aging parents, don't be a Scrooge. Even in a challenging economy where companies have slashed or killed bonuses, downsized or frozen pay raises, one thing remains constant — you need to tip your caregivers.

Yes, the holiday tip for nannies and caregivers is recession-proof. These are professions that rely on getting extra money around the holidays as part of their annual salary. Like hairdressers and housekeepers, they depend on bonuses. Some families tip out of fear that their caregiver will slack off, become ripe for poaching or even quit if they don't get their holiday windfall. Others feel compelled to tip out of obligation or good old-fashioned holiday cheer. Whatever your motivation, appreciating those who take care of those most precious to you is part of the holiday protocol.

But how much? If you want to make sure you're giving as much as your neighbor or you're new to the world of hiring caregivers, then heed our tipping guidelines below to make sure that you maintain the proper giving this holiday season. Happy tipping!

Nannies

A full-time nanny can usually expect a holiday bonus of one 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. To learn the going rate for a nanny holiday bonus in your state, check out our chart of Average Suggested Nanny Bonuses by State

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 card, drawing or something handmade and personal is 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. Get more ideas for homemade gifts for nannies with our article on 8 Creative Holiday Gifts Kids Can Make for Their Nanny.

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.

Housekeepers

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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