You’ve built a special relationship with the people who care for your children, and when the end of the year rolls around you want to treat them right. And that means giving a holiday bonus or tip. But how much should it be? Here are some guidelines to make sure the holiday tips for your babysitters and nannies are right on the money.

Who: Nannies

How much: From one week to one month’s pay based on tenure.

A nanny (defined as a full-time caregiver who works for your family more than 20 hours per week) is a special caregiver who knows your children almost as well as you do. If she’s been doing a great job for you all year, it’s appropriate to give her one week’s pay. Additional gifts (such as homemade cards and cookies from your kids, or a gift certificate to her favorite store) are thoughtful and welcome, but the cash bonus is key. Failing to give your nanny a bonus may make her feel unappreciated and even tempted to look for another job. Some families choose to give long-term nannies who are very close to their children more than one week’s pay, but one week is the norm.

Who: Au Pairs

How Much: One week’s pay.

An au pair (a live-in caregiver from a foreign country who works through an au pair program) has duties very similar to a nanny. And just like a nanny, one week’s pay is an appropriate bonus. A homemade gift or card from the kids is also appreciated.

Who: Babysitters and Mother’s Helpers

How much: Match the pay for the last job.

A babysitter (who watches your children on an occasional basis) and a mother’s helper (who, as the name implies, helps watch your children while you’re around) should also receive holiday tips. Even though they’re not full-time employees, they care for your children as well — and it’s important to keep them happy!

One final note: After reading these guidelines you may have a case of sticker shock. Being a good employer is not cheap, we know — not to mention that most working families are already on strict budgets. But you will earn your child care provider’s appreciation and loyalty when you tip her the holiday bonus she deserves.

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