Holiday Gifts from Nannies and Au Pairs

Giving Holiday Gifts on a Budget

When you are strapped for money but want to give holiday gifts make a list of how much you want to spend per person.

Since Christmas is next week there might not be enough time to buy gifts online. But, check the Internet for the best prices for stores that are close to you. Making the list and determining your budget beforehand makes it easier to not overspend. Once you go to the store you will find hundreds of great gifts to give that you had not thought of when making your list of gifts. Only buy the items on your list.

One of the most popular and easiest gifts to give the parents you work for is the gift of time. For example, nannies and au pairs can always make homemade gift certificates to give to the parents for one evening or overnight free babysitting.

You can also make gift certificates promising gifts for the future, such as a dozen homemade cookies per month, for a year. Anything handmade such as knitted mittens or home baked treats are always appreciated.

Another inexpensive but heartfelt gift is to help the children make presents for their parents. The craft project made by the children will be your gift to your employers. Plan a trip to the craft store with the children, give them a budget, let them choose the craft, then help them make and wrap the gift.

You can also create child-centered gifts, such as photo albums or calendars from pictures you have taken of the children over the year. The family will love a casting of a child’s hand print or footprint as a garden decoration using a kit from a hardware store.

When giving individual toys to each child choose safe, age-appropriate gifts that encourage creative play rather than passive play. Instead of choosing electronic toys, electronic games, and DVDs, give gifts that from the child’s interests and abilities. The best way to do that is by choosing simple toys like: blocks, costumes, puppets, balls, sand and shovels, clay, stuffed animals, and generic dolls which invite children to create their own scenes. It’s the process of using their imagination, literacy, or physical exercise that’s important in creative play.

Another low cost idea is to give the entire family a theme basket, rather than individual gifts. For example, you can make use game-night as a theme. Include a board game, a puzzle, and cards in the gift basket. Or, create a hand-assembled basket containing a family movie, hot chocolate mix, and microwave popcorn.

See what nannies are giving as gifts this holiday season in the December 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.
What are you giving the family you work for this holiday season?


  1. You posted early today Steph! I made a scrapbook on Shutterfly. It's not cheap but it will last forever! I highly recommend others do this. You will need to pay higher shipping since Christmas is next week though if you haven't done this yet.Fiona

  2. The best gift I made was an idea from your newsletter. You once described making a little book and each page listed something funny the children said or did that year. I carried a small notebook with me the entire year and whenever the children said something funny or did something funny I wrote it down. So much wonderful information that I had too much and the family has kept it on their coffee table since they were given it from me.Josephine H. in Haverford

  3. I knitted blankets for each child in their favorite colors.Nanny and Personal AssistantMegan SommersRichmond Virginia

  4. Storage Containers. To organize all the other stuff they have, actually I don't know if it's more of a gift to the family or me.LisaTeaching Caregiver

  5. Subscriptions! The child is getting a subscription to Ranger Rick AND Highlight, the mother to Oprah, the father to Sports Illustrated and I am giving three nanny friends subscriptions to this Best Nanny newsletter. (The child got me a subscription last year so I think they will like this).Teri in Lincoln Nebraska

  6. I am a subscriber so I know I spend a lot more on gifts than most nannies. But I think I make a lot more too. This family has given me such tremendous gifts I must buy them something!Best gifts I have gotten from them include a mini xmas tree with $50 and $100 bills on the tree as ornaments! (Better than a check anyday!!!) They bought me and my boyfriend airfare to New York, tix to broadway show, and the cost of hotel for a weekend!!! We only paid taxis and food.I usually by each special unique gifts this year I had a theme. Similar to Teri above with the suggestion of reading – I bought each member of the family a book. I put in hours finding the perfect books. But, I also got each child an extra $30 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble to spend as they wish. I find it is very easy to buy chldren gifts and much harder to buy parents gifts. I used to only give children gifts like many said in the poll in newsletter. But this family is so so so generous I could at least pick a super book for each parent. They all love to read. Last year I gave the parents a wine club for a new bottle of wine each month but that is super expensive and the mother is expecting a newborn so wine is out of the question. I do spend more on the family I work for than my own family actually. But they give me so much also.Lilly, Naperville, IL

  7. Wow I think as an employee the parents actually should not expect gifts from me. I mean I do something little. But it can get expensive quick and they know I live paycheck to paycheck. Or, they know my salary and I can't buy a lot. I have taken photos of kids and had them make frames and put the photos in the frames. I have done the handprints in plaster. Stuff along that line. One year I put the kids's photos on stuff like a mug, mouse pad, and apron but it was really expensive.I think a good thing to do is give kids each a gift only. Just give the parents a card thanking them for everything and a good new year.

  8. Are you guys serious? I never bought them gifts. I send a card. I never gave any bosses in other jobs gifts. I give them cards. Wrong to make an employee give gifts!

  9. $20 per kid (max $25) and no gifts for parents. They are having me wrap their gifts for kids and they are spending more on wrapping paper than I can afford for all my gifts for everyone friends and family. So, I think they can afford one gift for me more than I can afford five gifts for their entire family. It is not fair to expect us to buy five gifts with our income. I am buying the 3 kids gifts $20-$25 which is very generous.

  10. If the parents pay me less than last year and use the economy as an excuse, yet I see them buying tons of gifts for everybody else I will still be insulted.Parents can make all the excuses they want but when their nanny speaks to others in town and they are getting $1,000 to $5,000 the small bonus won't cut it!

  11. It is a personal decision how much to spend. I agree with the ideas and the nanny just has to stay within her means. Focus should be primarily on the kids.Terri

  12. The poster who thinks it's wrong to *make* an employee give their employer gifts.It may have been a typo or wrong choice of words..but who is "making" anyone give their employer a gift?Also many nannies feel part of their employer's family. So it's natural to want to give someone who you consider family a gift at the Holidays.Nanny employers are so different that any other employers- especially for those nannies who live in. As nannies we *really* get to know the family as we spend most of our working hours in their home.So I have always *wanted* to give my nanny/family something- even it's just a small gift. (But I guess I've been lucky when it comes to nanny employers).Happy Holidays All!~A Happy Nanny~

  13. I love giving the kids gifts too and it does not have to be much. I spend so much time with them I am tempted to buy hundreds of items for them but instead I make a list for the parents and leave off what I am giving.It is fun trying to figure out what to give and I feel great being able to do it on a budget.Happy holidays to you everyone!

  14. I like to think of myself as an artist and even though I am not a professional the best gift I have given to all the families I have worked for is a drawing of their children and pay for a nice frame. They all really love it.Career Nanny Tonya S.Brooklyn NY

  15. I tend to stick to giving gifts to the children only. Parents are difficult to buy for and my relationship is really with the kids and not buying them gifts would break my heart.As for bonuses, just say thank you even if it's not what you wanted or expected.Thank you for such a great blog and magazine. Best! Great ideas from nannies!Jana, Denver

  16. They really appreciate the charitable donations I have been giving in their honor over the last couple of years. I try to pick local charities or those that impact families. Before that I did a lot of home videos of the children doing things throughout the years, T-shirts, painted pottery, scrapbooks – things of a personal nature that included the children in some way. Becky in Minnesota

  17. The picture calendar is a big hit because it's made with pictures of the kids that Mom Boss and Dad Boss haven't seen!

  18. I like the shoebox gift ideas the newsletter printed one year. Pick a theme than put in simple supplies for the kids to play with.If it's a play doh theme spend less than $20 to $30 of supplies to play play doh.Sarasita

  19. I am giving the mother a locket with picutures of her daughters in it. I got a mousepad for the dad with a photo of his daughters on it. For the girls I went overboard. I just love them and saw so many things they would love. I don't use a budget on the girls and spend more on them than my own family. Do what makes you happy.NJ Nanny

  20. I gave the family tickets to "A Christmas Carol." I know it is more expensive than most nannies can afford. Best gift for play loving children and parents. I wanted to make a memorable experience. Hawaii Nanny

  21. I heard the dad make a comment about my gift not being a brand name and am embarrassed.See they buy gifts from Nordstrom and Brookstone. I have to buy all six members of their family a gift and on my salary I do not shop at Nordstrom or Brookstone. I bought nice pajamas for the family in matching theme from Sears and I heard the dad mention that it wasn't a brand name.Ugh, makes me feel — why bother??

  22. I took a large piece of paper painted the kids hands in the color of the parents' bedroom and had kids put their handprints all over the paper. Expensive part is I got it framed. The parents have been looking for a picture to put over their fireplace in bedroom and they put this in that spot. It came out wonderfully!!MERRY CHRISTMAS!Olivia, Cleveland OH

  23. I am a parent and feel lucky to have had the same wonderful nanny for eight years. Every year we have increased her holiday bonus and also given her a nice personal gift. She takes great care and joy in buying and wrapping holiday gifts for all of us. The problem is that she is spending more on us every year when we want her to have the additional money for herself. We've thanked her and told her she doesn't need to give us gifts but don't want to hurt her feelings by saying more. My preference would be that she only give small gifts to the kids. A card for us would be perfect and if she wants to give us something else, a night of sitting since my husband and I don't go out alone much.

  24. Lila that's so sweet. We all wish we worked for parents like you. You can say that to her. She is just trying to show you how much she appreciates you I think.Sara B.Richmond VA

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: