Last week, I posted Care.com’s 2011 Top 5 Gifts for Caregivers and promised that I'd decode the gift of money this week. We tip waiters with every restaurant meal, but when it comes to our caregivers, we may be a little out of practice when calculating the right monetary "thank you." A spa gift certificate, homemade cupcakes, a tip or a bonus? The truth is that, when you find someone who truly cares for your family, the holidays are a great opportunity to show your gratitude – and ensure that your caregiver happily stays with you throughout the new year. To help determine the right holiday gift, check out the guide below for part two of our holiday celebration for caregivers:
Provide full-time nannies and au pairs with a holiday bonus – the equivalent of one week's salary.
While this is the standard, if finances are tight this year, consider giving your nanny an extra week to a few days of paid vacation spread out during the following year. Add a homemade gift. Don't forget that generally, nannies do not get paid vacations on the major winter holidays, including Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years. If you ask them to help out on any of these days, be sure to pay time and a half.
For babysitters who care for your children on a regular basis, provide a tip – about one or two night's pay. If you want to thank an occasional sitter who helps out on date nights or provides back-up care, send a card with a gift certificate (see last week's post for specific ideas) of about $25.00-$50.00. Again, nice homemade goodies, made with help from the kids, are also a great "thank you."
Special Needs Caregivers
Special needs caregivers can play a crucial role in the lives of our children and loved ones. Like nannies, if your special needs caregiver is full-time, provide the one week salary holiday bonus. If he or she visits only occasionally, stick with the one-or-two-visit tipping rule. However, if your caregiver goes the extra mile in caring for your loved one, make sure that your gesture reflects his or her dedication.
A tip equivalent to one tutoring session is appropriate for tutors who have really made an impact on your child's learning, and I also like to involve my guys in the gift-giving by having them make a thank you card or small gift.
If your full-time senior caregiver is employed independently by you and your family, operate under the one-week-salary bonus rule or two weeks for caregivers that have been with your family for multiple years. If he or she is employed through an agency or works at your senior's facility, be sure to check with the management regarding policies on tipping. If you know that the caregiver has really gone out of their way to make your aging parent or loved one as happy and well-cared for as possible, give a little extra – check out The Gift of Relaxation section from last week.
Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers
An occasional pet sitter could get a gift card or an equivalent to an extra day's pay. For a dog walker that comes by when you're at work and on a daily basis, provide the typical week's salary as a holiday tip. And if you make regular visits to the groomer, give them a little tip or gift as well.
In general, housekeepers should receive anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent of their usual weekly fee. Accompany your holiday tip with a nice card or holiday goodies. If you occasionally hire a house cleaner to come in before a house party or a visit from relatives, a tip is nice, but not necessary.
Ultimately, bonuses are greater amounts for full-time caregivers, and tips are a percentage or extra full day’s pay for part-time or occasional caregivers. Whether you choose to give presents, extra paid vacation time, bonuses, or tips this holiday season, ensure that your gift matches your own feelings of gratitude towards the caregivers of your loved ones.
Check out these articles for additional holiday reading:
Ho Ho Ho… How Much? Holiday Tipping Tips from Ettiquette Experts
Holiday Tipping: A Holiday Bonus Guide for Your Caregivers
Holiday Recipes Your Kids Will Actually Eat