Today I’m welcoming Katie Bugbee from, here to share her thoughts on holiday gifts for some of the most important people in our children’s lives! (You may also want to flash back to my post called “What Teachers Really Want For Christmas“.)

What Gifts Should You Give Your Child’s Caregivers?

‘Tis the season to spend, spend, spend. And in the effort to make this the best day (or 8 nights) ever for our own kids – there are some other VIPs to shower with love – the ones who care for our kids on a daily basis: the daycare center workers, in-home daycare owners, preschool teachers, babysitters and nannies who make our lives work. And who love our kids!

But what do you give someone who devotes her days (and possibly nights) to taking care of our little ones – so that we can run our families, our businesses, and have a little fun with our SOs?

This guide should help you budget and plan for what to give each care provider in your life.

Day Care Center Employee: I’m not sure how much you know about each employee working in your child’s daycare. Often there’s a teacher, a co-teacher and then classroom helpers. Giving to each person can seem overwhelming. However, you should give something. I know families who have given homemade food to the whole center. And then given gift cards to each person. But don’t just give food. Giving a Target card or Amex Gift Card would help these caregivers do their own holiday gifting. I’d give a bit more to the teachers than to the assistants, but still give to everyone who helps your child. It will be very much appreciated.

In-home Care Owner: Something sweet or sentimental could be very nice. You are in her home each day, but may not know this person enough to add to her décor. An Edible Arrangement or food item is a nice idea, or a gift certificate to help her add supplies to her business.

In-home Care Employee: Similar to the day care center employees, give gift cards to help with their own holiday bills.

Preschool Teachers: I’m told teachers love getting gift cards for classroom supplies. So when in doubt, head to a local book shop, arts + crafts place or grocery store where they can buy snacks. But if thinking about just them, go for a certificate to a spa or local lunch spot. Since parents tend to be in close communication during the preschool years (email lists tend to be disclosed), someone can organize a group gift so the value is more significant.

Elementary School Teachers: I actually love these gift ideas, especially the clever t-shirts. But let’s face it, teachers have a lot of mugs and knick-knacks. What they could really use is a gift card for coffee or to a local spot for them to get lunch, dinner or drinks with friends after work. But packing it up with a funny mug, thoughtful book or beautiful orchid is a nice touch.

Babysitters: Depending on how often your sitter helps you, this amount will range. If this is a regular sitter, who helps a few hours a week, give an average week’s pay as a tip. If it’s a date-night sitter who always seems to make herself available to help you and SO get some alone time, give an average night’s pay as a tip.

Nannies: Just like sitters, nannies expect to receive a tip at the holidays. It’s what your neighbors are doing. It’s what they hear about from nanny-friends at the playground. The average tip is 1-2 weeks’ pay. You can also add a nice, thoughtful gift from the kids (with the gift receipt).

What other gift ideas have you used for the caregivers in your life?

Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert at

{Just a note from This Mom – we buy Christmas gifts for all of our girls’ teachers – homeroom, Music, Integrated Literacy, etc., and they’re all getting gift cards except for Frannie’s homeroom teacher, since she’s a close friend and when I saw a deal on chandelier statement necklaces I thought of her. I actually let her choose her colour – there goes the surprise! Our before-and-after provider and evening sitters are getting cash bonuses because, well, who wouldn’t want money?}

3 comments on “Holiday Gifts For Caregivers: Special Guest Post”

  1. I think your suggestions are great for those who wish to give a gift. I do however, think that a well timed Thank You to a teacher, caregiver, babysitter should not be under-rated.
    I feel strongly that people who are compensated for a job should not expect a gift. For example it drives me crazy when we are at a wedding reception that has been PAID for, yet we have to stop and applaud the venue and servers. Whatever, they have been paid for their job- do you applaud your waiter at a restaurant? I see this is a faux pas that people generally have adopted, that takes away from the wonder of the newly married couple(off my soap box now):0)
    If I choose to show my appreciation to my children's care providers that should be my choice. Some people do an 'okay' job, others are super freaking phenomenal. If the purpose of the gift is to say thank you, then the gift needs to reflect your thanks. If the gift is being given because it is expected, that is where I feel un-compelled to provide one. If I give a gift out of expectation, I can promise you it will not be special and well thought out. And I would assume receiving that type of gift mustn't feel particularly special either.
    Lucky for us, we have encountered teachers and care providers who have showered our children with compassion, love and kindness so deciding how we want to acknowledge that best is the challenge, but knowing that the providers and teachers have been so positive in our children's lives leaves us feeling that they deserve a token of our gratitude.

  2. Sally, I really agree with your comment when you say "people who are compensated for a job should not expect a gift". When I'm not at home with my kids, I'm a high school teacher. I can count on two hands the number of gifts that I have received from students/families at Christmas time in the past 11 years….I know, I've been on mat leave for a few of those years, but you get my point. 🙂 (I actually noticed in the blog post that only elementary teachers were mentioned and not high school teachers.) Even though I really appreciated the gifts, I don't expect them.
    You also mentioned a well-timed thank you note, Sally. Honestly, I couldn't agree more with you! I have saved every thank you note I have ever received in my teaching career. When someone (a student or parent) takes the time to say thank you for something I did (whether it was large or small)it means more to me than any monetary gift ever will.
    However, I must admit, as a teacher, I think I am even more conscious of showing my children's teachers our appreciation. We, too, have been blessed by having excellent teachers for our two oldest children – classroom, music, literacy etc. I have chosen to buy gifts for their teachers – not because I feel I have to or because they expect it but because they truly are gifted professionals who love and respect our children.
    I grew up in a family of 6 children and I remember my mom always making a special Christmas bread called stolen for all of our teachers, the secretary and also our crossing guard. I can still remember how much these special people appreciated and looked forward to the bread. It cost very little but they loved that it was homemade and knew it came from the heart.

  3. Thank you both for your thoughtful comments!
    I know this time of year blogs, Pinterest and Twitter feeds are full of suggestions for "teacher gifts" as well as questions about the best ways to recognize these people, so I like being able to add to the discussion.
    I would never mean to imply that these gifts are expected, or an obligation. I know there are many reasons why parents may not choose, or be able to, include teachers on their lists.
    The high school point is a good one, too. We gave gifts right up til Grade 8, then stopped. (And my dad was a high school teacher!) I think by the time you have a couple of kids in high school, you're looking at at least 8 gifts which is a bit unreasonable, plus the contact with the teacher(s) and the novelty of school have declined (I'd be willing to bet over 90% of kindergarten teachers receive gifts, and it goes down from there!)
    I absolutely agree that a thank you note is the very best gift you can give. I love when a parent makes a point of telling me how I have impacted their child, or mentions something that I said/did that I may have already forgotten, but meant so much to the child or parent. And that type of gift doesn't even cost anything!

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