Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gifts for Caregivers - Who, What, How Much?

Now that Halloween is over, we've already moved on to Christmas. (Although my 4 year old did let me know that this Thursday is Halloween-Christmas in which he gets candy AND presents). With the holidays, comes the consideration of what to get caregivers. I've been through this a few times before and talked this into the ground with other moms, so here are some thoughts. I'm splitting the gift decisions up into a few categories, based on some assumptions about how much time your child spends with the caregivers.

Regardless of what type of caregiver, if you can organize with the other families NOW and go in on a group gift, you're likely to end up with a far more generous gift. Start by sending an email to the other moms or putting a note in the cubbies. Provide your email and suggest an amount and give everyone a due date. Ask people to make suggestions on the gift idea, or choose one yourself from the list below. I've found that people are happy to give money if they don't have to think about the gift!

Full-Time Daycare Teacher (Center):

  • Amount: I know it can add up, especially with daycare being so expensive to start with, but I always felt like I needed to give at least $50. These teachers often spent more time with my child than I did. In talking with other moms, $20-25 seems more average. If you're doing a group gift, I'd suggest $20 per teacher.

  • Who: I always gave to the lead teachers and any floater I knew by name. My child was in every class for at least one holiday, so I didn't need to give to two sets of teachers. However, if he spent the majority of the year in one class and moved right before the holidays, I'd make sure the first set of teachers also received a gift. (You can avoid this next year, by giving a gift when your child leaves the room!)

  • What: Cash is king. Instead of wasting time trying to pick out something they'd like, I'd suggest a Target or Amazon gift card. If you know they're a coffee drinker, Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts would work, but I imagine they get a lot of those. Younger teachers may like Sephora or iTunes. Don't forget a card as well!

  • A Little Extra: I knew that there were people that took care of my son that I didn't know. So in addition to the gift cards, I would always bring in something for all the teachers. Let the director know in advance and bring in a muffins and coffee. Or get them a gift card to a local ice cream place (i've done $50 to Coldstone Creamery). Or get a bunch of chips and salsas from Trader Joes and leave them in the breakroom. Have cookies delivered or popcorn from Dale and Thomas.

Full Time Daycare (In-Home):

  • Amount: I'm making the assumption there are fewer teachers in a home daycare, in which case I'd spend more. I've heard "a week's tuition" but I assume these people aren't living in the Boston area in which a week of infant care can easily reach $400. There is no doubt in my mind that daycare providers DESERVE a hundred times that much, but sometimes that is just outside the realm of possibility. I'd likely spend around $100....or more if you have more than one child enrolled.

  • Who: If your home daycare has assistants, make sure you consider them as well. If they're full time, I'd give them slightly less than the owner. If they are their part-time, I'd use your judgement.

  • What: I'd consider a gift card as well, but if you know your in-home provider well, I'd also consider a restaurant gift card or a particular store you know is a favorite. Just make sure your money will allow them to purchase something significant (e.g., $50 isn't going to get you a lot at Gucci!). Spa treatments are also nice.

Preschool Teacher:

  • Amount: I'm making the assumption we're talking about part-time preschool teachers. In my experience, $10-20 for a group gift. If you're getting something individually, it seems most people spend $25-50.

  • Who: All the teachers that touch your child, plus something small for the director, if you know them.

  • What: If you're going in on a group gift, restaurants or spa treatments seem to be the go-to. Also, Barnes and Noble. In many cases, along with the gift certificate, most students gave a tin of baked goods, a poinsettia, or other small token. Some other things that might be nice to go along with the gift card are a personalized stamp or personalized notepads. Last year we gave a donation to a charity in the teacher's name (Heifer Project). She was older and more affluent and Dunkin Donuts just didn't seem appropriate. She was extremely thankful for the gift. In my experience, the director received baked goods or a flower, but no gift card.


  • Amount: I'm struggling with this now, but I'm thinking somewhere around $200-300. It is not even close to a weeks salary, but I feel like I'll be able to get something substantial for that amount.

  • What: I'm going to go with cash and a gift. If I didn't know she wanted something very specific, I'd just do cash. The cash will come from the parents and the gift from the kids. We'll also likely be giving her annual raise around the same time. You can always throw in a few extra days off if that is easier to manage than the outright gift of cash.


  • Amount: I think this is clearly at your discretion, but if you have a regular babysitter that you love, I'd consider a gift. Maybe $20-50 depending on how frequently they babysit.

  • What: For younger girls I'd stick with Sephora, iTunes, Starbucks, etc.


  • If you've been going to a weekly class for more than 6 months (e.g., Little Gym) and plan to continue, I'd consider a small token for the teacher. Maybe Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks? Just something to let them know you're thinking of them.

What do you give your care givers? Am I way off-base in my amounts? This is not downtown Boston, but rather the Boston-metro area (within 10 miles of Boston), so I acknowledge there may be some differences in certain suburbs.


  1. This is so helpful and in my experience right on track! The only thing I would add is to just make sure when you're dealing with a daycare center or school to check if they have a gift policy/limit and if so what it is. You don't want to put the teacher in an awkward situation!

  2. One other note to add, in the New York area, the going rate for a Nanny holiday gift is one week's pay, plus a small gift from the "child." And unlike corporate america, where we may be told to not talk about pay--I've heard from several nannies that nannies do compare exact gifts/salaries...

  3. Anonymous, yes I should have mentioned that a weeks salary was "standard.". However, I know a few people that have nannies and a few friends that have been nannies and no one has ever given or received this amount! Granted, we're all "regular" people...were not taking them to St. Bart's on vacation and not giving them a new car! Has anyone ever given this amount? I'm also aware that nannies talk salary, but there are plenty of non-financial benefits to any job. I think those of us with nannies are always aware they could leave for a better opportunity!

  4. Mama E--not sure why you took offense to my added comment. I was just commenting on the practice and standard specifically in the NYC area where I live. This is information I learned from dozens of other working mothers living in the same vicinity.

  5. Anonymous - I'm sorry about my tone, I definitely didn't take offense. You brought up a good point, because if you google the same subject you'll get lots of posts that say the same thing! I just don't have a sense of how often that really happens here in Boston with those of us who have nannies but aren't in the highest income tiers...