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How Much Do the Holidays Cost?

A new Care.com survey found out just how much people are willing to pay for services -- and what they really tip -- at the holidays.

Child Care

When Should You Hire a Holiday Babysitter?

According to 2016 Care.com job post data, the weekend two weeks before Christmas was the most common weekend of the year for parents to hire a babysitter in order to attend a holiday party, followed by the weekend one week before Christmas. Saturdays turned out to be more popular than Fridays, so we expect that Saturday, December 9, will be the most popular night to hire a babysitter in 2017.

Holiday babysitting jobs were posted an average of 5 days in advance -- two days longer than typical babysitting jobs -- so parents looking to attend festivities this year should start searching for a babysitter by December 4 at the latest.

How Much Are Families Paying for a Holiday Babysitter?

Here’s where families can save a little money for gifts and entertaining.

The cost of a babysitter during the holidays is actually less than during the rest of the year. According to our data, though, parents who live in Denver, San Jose, and San Francisco weren't quite so lucky in 2016; they happened to live in the top three most expensive cities to hire a babysitter for a holiday party. (On average, babysitters' hourly rates in those cities were about $22, $21, and $19, respectively.)

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities to Find a Babysitter for a Holiday Party in 2016

These cities had the highest hourly rates for hiring babysitters for holiday parties.


Metro Area                                                          

2016 Average Hourly Rate


Denver, CO



San Jose, CA



San Francisco, CA                                                



San Diego, CA



Boston, MA



Seattle, WA



Dallas, TX



Houston, TX



Atlanta, GA



Washington, D.C.


If you're curious to find out what the going rate is in your zip code, check out our babysitting rates calculator!

When Should Families Book a New Year's Eve Babysitter? And How Much Should They Pay?

Our data shows that New Year’s Eve is the most popular night for babysitting jobs during the year, followed by the Saturday before Valentine's Day. Last year, more than half (52 percent) of all NYE babysitting jobs on Care.com were posted at least five days before the actual holiday -- and a little more than a third (39 percent) were posted three to four days beforehand. By booking early, those families were able to avoid the last-minute scramble to find quality child care.

In 2016, the average hourly rate of a New Year’s Eve babysitter was $14.25, which was a one percent decrease from 2015. Topping the list of most expensive metro areas for New Year’s Eve babysitters was San Jose; coincidentally, four out of the top 10 metros were located in California (San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego).

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities for New Year’s Eve Babysitting in 2016

These cities had the highest hourly rates for NYE babysitting jobs.


Metro Area                                                        

2016 Average NYE Hourly Rate


San Jose, CA



San Francisco, CA



Boston, MA



Seattle, WA



Austin, TX



Los Angeles, CA



New York, NY



Washington, D.C.



Pittsburgh, PA



San Diego, CA


Pet Care

Top 10 Cities for Holiday Pet-Sitting Jobs in 2016

These cities had the highest number of holiday pet-sitting job postings per capita.

Rank   Metro Area                                     2016 Average Hourly Rate
1 Ithaca, NY $18.68
2 Fort Collins, CO $19.88
3 Boulder, CO $22.88
4 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC $19.78
5 State College, PA $16.11
6 Bloomington, IN $20.29
7 Ann Arbor, MI $17.43
8 Boston, MA $22.35
9 Gainesville, FL $18.64
10 Wilmington, NC $17.62

During the holidays, pet care jobs for cats make up a larger share of pet care jobs than at any other time during the year.  In December last year, 38 percent of pet care jobs were for cats, compared to 30 percent of pet care jobs the rest of the year.

When Should You Hire a Holiday Pet Sitter?

During November and December, pet-sitting jobs make up a larger share of pet care jobs than at any other time of the year. According to our 2016 data, the most popular day for pet-sitting jobs to start was the Friday before Christmas Eve. 

In 2016, 30 percent of Thanksgiving pet-sitting jobs were posted more than 3 weeks before Thanksgiving day, and 19 percent were posted the week of the actual holiday. 

How Much Are Pet Parents Paying Their Holiday Pet Sitters?

From caring for cats to brushing an Australian Shepherd before bedtime, it's clear that families are willing to pay top dollar for pet care.

In 2016, Thanksgiving pet-sitting jobs for birds and dogs commanded the highest hourly rates at $17.81 and $17.51, respectively. On the other hand, cat-sitting paid an average of $16.45 per hour. If you're looking for pet-sitting jobs, it's worth noting that families looking for someone to care for their fish were willing to pay an average of $15.34 per hour. (Not bad when you think about what's en-taled, no?)

On average, pet-sitting jobs paid just one percent less than dog-walking jobs -- or $20.01 per hour compared to $20.26 per hour, respectively.

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities for Holiday Pet-Sitting

These cities had the highest hourly rates for holiday pet-sitting jobs.

Rank      Metro Area                          2016 Average Hourly Rate
1 Louisville, KY $30.00
2 Greensboro, NC $29.53
3 New Orleans, LA $27.88
4 Buffalo, NY $27.40
5 Ogden, UT $27.33
6 Las Vegas, NV $27.02
7 Anchorage, AK $27.00
8 Manchester, NH $26.77
9 Birmingham, AL $25.22
10 Columbia, SC $25.19

Do Dogs Have New Year’s Resolutions?

According to our data, January was the top month for pet care jobs that involved walking, play and exercise, with 45 percent asking for someone to play with their pet and get them to exercise, compared with 38 percent through the rest of the year. (So, either pet parents were extending their fitness resolutions to their four-legged family members, or they were avoiding the outdoors in January.)

Furthermore, 27 percent of all pet care jobs that were posted in January 2016 were for dog-walkers. In fact, dog-walking jobs made up a larger share of all pet care jobs posted in January than during any other month of the year. That said, the most popular day for dog-walking jobs to start was actually the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

In turn, dog walkers can be pretty choosy about the jobs they take, especially in January when cold temperatures, snow, and ice make going for walks less ideal in northern states. In January 2016, dog-walking jobs in San Diego and Miami received the most applicants, while Seattle and Minneapolis received the least. To this point, the number of applicants to a particular job posting was strongly correlated to the city’s latitude. In fact, for every 4 degrees further north in latitude, dog owners could expect to get 3 fewer applicants, on average.

Top 10 Easiest Cities to Find a Dog Walker in January 2016

These cities had the most applicants per job for dog walking in January 2016.


Metro Area          


Average Hourly Rate  

Apps per Job

1 San Diego, CA 33.4 $14.00 Very High
2 Miami, FL 26.98 $16.05

Very High

3 Los Angeles, CA    34.73 $16.35 Very High
4 Atlanta, GA 34.56 $14.53 Very High
5 Charlotte, NC 36.04 $17.35  High
6 New York, NY 42.06 $16.98  High
7 Dallas, TX 33.38 $17.58  Average
8 Philadelphia, PA     40.58 $16.07  Average
9 Houston, TX 30.55 $16.52  Average
10 Baltimore, MD 39.71 $17.76  Average


Top 10 Hardest Cities to Find a Dog Walker in January 2016

These cities had the least amount of applicants per job for dog walking in January 2016.

Rank   Metro Area       Latitude   Average Hourly Rate                    Apps per Job
1 Minneapolis, MN 46.21 $16.45 Very Low
2 Seattle, WA 48.21 $17.00 Very Low
3 Washington, D.C. 39.69 $16.44 Low
4 Detroit, MI 43.29 $16.02 Low
5 Cincinnati, OH 39.69 $17.24 Low
6 Chicago, IL 42.64 $15.38 Low
7 Cleveland, OH 41.79 $16.41 Average
8 Denver, CO 39.98 $17.74 Average
9 Boston, MA 43.51 $16.76 Average
10 San Francisco, CA 38.24 $18.30 Average

These types of costs don’t even scratch the surface for most (pet) parents.


Holiday Expenses

Holiday Tipping and Gifting

According to the Care.com 2017 Cost of the Holidays Survey:

  • 87 percent of respondents said that they give holiday tips, whether it's in the form of money, gifts, or a mix of both.
  • 13 percent said that they don't give any holiday tips at all.
  • Almost 80 percent of those who haven't given holiday tips in the past said that they didn't feel guilty about it.
  • 55 percent said that they typically give holiday tips in early December, compared with: 
    • 31 percent who give them at the end of December;
    • 7 percent who give them before Thanksgiving;
    • 6 percent who give them at the end of November; and,
    • 1 percent who give them after the New Year.
  • 74 percent aren’t aware of the tax rules and restrictions associated with giving holiday gifts/tips to care providers.

Here are the top five care providers whom respondents said that they tip:

  • Child care providers, such as babysitters, nannies, day care workers, etc. (71 percent)
  • Personal care professionals, such as hairstylists, manicurists, personal trainers, masseur/masseuses, etc. (53 percent)
  • People who work with kids, such as tutors, bus drivers, coaches, teachers, etc. (47 percent)
  • Delivery people, such as postal workers, news carriers, etc. (43 percent)
  • Home maintenance help, such as housekeepers, landscapers, trash collection service, odd job helpers, doorman, etc. (41 percent)
Person/Service How Much Respondents Spend on Them
Child's Teacher 74 percent spend less than $40
Child's Tutor 60 percent spend less than $40
Child's Coach 38 percent spend less than $20
Housekeeper 44 percent spend less than $40
Doorman/Porter 41 percent spend less than $20
Personal Assistant 60 percent spend less than $60
Bus Driver 46 percent spend less than $20
Trash/Recycling Collectors 54 percent don't tip them at all
Landscaper 38 percent spend less than $40
Babysitter 52 percent spend between $20 and $59
Nanny 42 percent spend less than $60
Day Care Teacher 31 percent spend between $20 and $39
Dog Walker 57 percent spend less than $40
Dog Boarding Facility 35 percent don't tip them at all
Pet Sitter 25 percent spend between $20 and $39
Groomer 42 percent spend less than $20
Nursing Home Staff 29 percent spend less than $20
In Home Health Aide/Nurse/Caregiver 47 percent spend less than $40
Postal Worker 44 percent don't tip them at all
Barista/Server/Bartender 45 percent spend less than $20
Hairstylist/Barber/Manicurist 61 percent spend less than $40
Dry Cleaner 69 percent don't tip them at all
Personal Trainer/Yoga Instructor/Massage Therapist 17 percent spend between $20 and $39
Food Delivery Service (Amazon Fresh, Peapod) 42 percent spend less than $20



            Don't know how much to tip? Check out our holiday tipping guide to see suggested tip amounts and gift ideas. 

Want to cross holiday tipping off of your list? Tip all of your caregivers today through our website or app !

Hiring Holiday Help

  • 58 percent wish that they could hire help during the holiday season to make it easier.
  • 68 percent would be willing to hire holiday help if it meant they’d have less stress and more time.

Top 3 types of help that would make the holidays easier for a family:

  • Housekeeper (51 percent)
  • Babysitter (51 percent)
  • Errand runner/task master (33 percent)



Care.com data, such as hourly rates and advance booking averages, are based on 2016 member behavior on the site. The Care.com 2017 Cost of Holidays Survey captured responses, which were recruited from Care.com, from more than 1,200 people in the United States during the months of September and October 2017.


Want to check out more of our studies? Feel free to peruse this list:

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