It’s that time of the year again: gift-giving season.

It starts with a list—family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coworkers, and oh yeah, the sitter. If you’re like most people, you’re immediately stressing about what the perfect thing is to get someone so important to your family. How can you sum up how much you appreciate your babysitter and present that in a physical item? What’s meaningful, but not too personal? What do they actually like? Is this something they would actually use? These are all great questions to ask when considering babysitter gifts, but it can get overwhelming very quickly.

Let’s skip the overwhelm of scrolling through endless gift idea lists this year and follow these 3 simple steps in giving the perfect holiday gift for the family sitter:

1. Reflect on Your Gratitude

Giving a holiday gift isn’t the first time that you’ve expressed your appreciation for your sitter. A meaningful thank-you after each visit. Tipping your babysitter extra for a rough day with the kids. Covering the cab fare after a late night. A regularly scheduled performance review. Remind yourself that this gift isn’t the end-all-be-all of expressing your gratitude. Trust that each small expression has built up a foundation of thanks.

2. Give Them What They Actually Want

Drum roll, please…The thing that sitters actually want as a gift: cash. That’s right. The uncomplicated, simple gift of being able to gift themselves whatever they want. This can come in the form of actual cash, checks (if you still use those?), or a gift card. While this seems unthoughtful, it’s actually not. When someone gives you the power to get something for yourself that you wouldn’t normally purchase, that’s the best gift.

3. Personalize How You Give It

For those still feeling that cash is impersonal, this step is for you. The way in which you gift the cash/gift cards can feel personal. Have the kids draw a picture. Include a jar of homemade salsa or baked goods. Write a longer note of appreciation instead of just signing a card. Include the family holiday card. Present your personalized babysitter gift in a way that represents your family and the people in it.

 

This list of ideas might not have been what you were expecting. But when you really stop to think about why you give gifts and what it is your sitter actually wants, it takes a lot of pressure off of the process. Appreciation isn’t something that happens once per year. It’s built into a relationship over time. And at the end of the day, gift-giving is about the recipient. Give your sitter what they really want and minimize your stress this holiday season.

 

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