Babysitter Gift Ideas

St. Bernard with babies

Photo by FergieDZ

The economy has made gift-giving a little tougher this year, but we still need to show our children's babysitters and day care providers how much we appreciate them. After all, second to you and your spouse, your child spends more time with them than any other human!

Luckily, Genevieve Thiers, CEO of, comes to the rescue with some affordable gift ideas for babysitters -- I think a number of them would be great for teachers, too. Thiers also includes some more common monetary gifts your caregiver would love to get if you can swing it.


1. Handmade Gifts

"Having the kids make the sitter an ornament, delicious holiday cookies and/or a thoughtful card is a cute and personal way to show your appreciation for all that your caregiver does," says Thiers. While great on their own, they're also a nice way to supplement a monetary gift, especially if you have to cut back this year.

Find ideas for homemade Christmas gifts for teachers in the ♥ I Love Christmas ♥ group (it will ask you to join first); I especially love the idea from sweetdreams529: She took a wire whisk and filled the inside with Hershey kisses, enclosed it in red plastic wrap, and attached a note that read "We Whisk You a Merry Kissmas" with ribbon.

2. Feel-Good Gifts

Some of your sitter's favorite non-cash gifts cost under $10. polls have found the most popular gifts include:

  • mall and movie gift cards
  • bath and body products
  • gourmet food treats
  • accessories (a scarf, gloves, etc.)

3.  Money

If you're like most people, there's not a lot of extra going around this year. So just remember, says Thiers, whatever you can afford to give your sitter this season, all that matters is that she knows that she's appreciated. Something as small as taking a few minutes to sit her down and truly thank her for everything she does for your family is a gracious gesture. Even if your sitter "knows" that she's a valuable part of your family, now is the perfect time to verbalize that appreciation.

That said, if you are financially able to throw a few bucks your sitter's way, here are some general guidelines for bonuses. Some parents prefer to bonuses to raises because a bonus is not a year-round commitment, Thiers says.

What to Pay: For a part-time sitter, double her pay for the last job that she does just before the holidays. For a steady babysitter/nanny working more than 20 hours a week, consider doubling her weekly salary for one week instead.

How to Pay: If you're concerned that your sitter might mistake a bonus for a raise (oops!), the best way to offer her the extra cash is to slip a separate check inside a holiday card when you pay her for that last job.

4. Pay Raise

For parents who have been lucky enough to keep the same babysitter for at least six months, an annual raise is another great gift idea. If you've expanded your family or increased your sitter's responsibilities without yet offering her a raise, you should really consider offering one now, Thiers advises.

What to Pay: Raises are often $1-$3 more per hour than the babysitter has been making in the past.

How to Pay: Tell the babysitter that she's done a fabulous job and you want to raise her hourly rate. It's simple, it's direct, and you'll get to see her face light up.

What are you getting your sitter this year?

I'm asking preschool teachers around CafeMom to tell me what gifts they would like to get -- and not to get -- for the holidays. Find out what they say tomorrow ...

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