Holiday Bonuses for Nannies: Parents Don’t Give Less Than Last Year

Parents: What to Give Your Nanny for the Holidays

Yesterday we discussed what gifts nannies and au pairs can give this holiday season. Now for parents, we will discuss what employers should give their in-home childcare providers for holiday gifts and bonuses.

The most important word to remember when giving your nanny a gift this holiday season is “cash.”

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asked nannies what they expect for their holiday bonus and gift this year. Ninety-three percent of the nannies replied that they expect at least one-week salary as a holiday bonus and a thoughtful gift from the children.

The average bonus expected from those that participated in the poll was about $1,200 or f0r those that did not leave a dollar sum they answered about two-weeks salary. The highest bonus expected was $8,000. The most expensive gift was a car leased paid by the employers entirely for the nanny’s personal use.

Paying the bonus in cash is important for nannies who would prefer their bonus given as a gift rather than part of their taxable salary. But, parents are obliged to report that sum as part of your employee’s income. It is vital not to give the caregiver a bonus for less than last year, or the employee will be disappointed.

During these tough economic times, if you cannot afford at least one-week salary, or if the bonus will be lower than last year, you should speak to the nanny so that she isn’t insulted or left wondering whether her performance has fallen short. Do not think nannies will notice if their bonus is less than the year before.

Nannies also like any gift that could be considered a benefit of the job such as a cell phone with cell phone coverage or help with the car or health insurance. Memberships to professional nanny organizations or a subscription to a nanny trade publication like Be the Best Nanny Newsletter are great gifts to give your nanny.

Other wonderful gifts include: frequent flier miles, a tuition payment, a week at your time-share, or a laptop computer. If your budget won’t stretch any further, consider a gift of time; such as a few paid hours off (or even days off) from work.

Gifts from the children need not be expensive. Nannies prefer the gifts from the children are heart-felt. A scrapbook or photo album, jewelry, or handmade gifts are great gifts for nannies to receive from the children.

To see a list of nannies favorite holidays gifts is available in the December 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.


  1. Yesterday I wrote about bonuses which is better to write about today with this article.I am a hard working, great nanny that likes my job. But, if the parents pay me less for a bonus this year 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 other nannies are getting $1,000 to $5,000 while I get a small bonus I would be upset.Nannies do talk and they do compare what they got. Highest I ever got was $5,000 but I have heard of more. But lowest I got was $250 after just starting in Septmeber. But I was so upset. I spent well over $250 just on the kids's gifts.Parents should remember that nannies talk. And they are insulted if they get a low bonus.

  2. I think parent employers of nannies should also round the bonus up! For example, if you are paying the nanny $751.46 a week for instance, the parent/employer should round up the amount to $800. See what I mean? Looks pretty cheap and I would be upset to get a bonus for the exact weekly salary to the cent. Doesn't make the bonus feel real, makes it feel like the parents are just giving me it because they have to. Does this make sense?

  3. Best gift I ever got was last year I got a air plane ticket to go wherever I wanted to go in the United States.Lowell, IN

  4. Best gift I got was a MAC computer! Hopefully I'll get health insurance with my raise this year for my anniversary as my raise. This is my third nanny job all have given at least 2 weeks pay so I don't know why some only get one weeks pay.Dearborn, Michigan

  5. I think one needs to take into account the salary of the area where the nanny works. I saw 1k bonus and thought OMG I've never gotten more than a $400 and I was happy with that.I have worked in crisis type jobs were people did need a nanny but could have never afforded to give me more than an extra weeks pay as a bonus. And even that weeks pay would have been a stretch for them.It makes me sad because Christmas is not supposed to be about greed. I don't like to openly discuss my salary, bonuses, and perks in my current job. Because:1. I know there are many nannies in this country right now who can't find a job.2. I don't want it to be a competition with other nannies.Our abilities as caregivers aren't defined by our bonuses. I've worked for cheap people in the past, who could afford it and gave me a couple hundred bucks (it could have easily gone higher). Then I have worked for a widower who couldn't, and gave what he could afford. What gift do you think mattered more to me?

  6. This year I "DID NOT" receive a Holiday Bonus from my family. 😦 They went out of town (beginning today) and won't be back until after Christmas. I insisted on being paid for next week because I had planned on working and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are already paid holidays off. So, technically… they were only paying me for Mon, Tue and Wed. (I made a deal and didn't make them pay for Today and Tomorrow) So, anyhow… I am assuming that they weren't to happen about that and instead of giving me a bonus.. I received a week paid off. I'm a little hurt by that…

  7. "weren't to happen about that" is suppose to be "weren't too happy about that". Sorry. I'm obviously not awake yet. 🙂

  8. First, I am happy the article writes about if we get lower bonuses than last year or less than a weeks pay (for full time or permanent caregivers not part time babysitters) to have the parents explain it to us why it is low or lower because it is true that I do expect a generous bonus. You will find hundreds of articles online about paying nanny one week's salary and gift. But I have never read this advice until now and it really is true. Professional career hard working nannies deserve a good salary and will be insulted if the bonus is low.But, to the other comments left by others I agree we should not be Scrooges and base our happiness on the bonus. I do not think nannies go into the profession to be wealthy but for a love of kids. For real career nannies and professional nannies they should get bonuses. It's a super important job with lots of love and sweat.But, there is a whole other level of nanny that hates their job, does as little work as possible. They should not expect a good bonus.Freda, Home in New MexicoWork in Orange County Cali.

  9. I only want money. Seriously, I wouldn't like an actual gift, even if it was something I really wanted. I prefer money. I understand why not getting a gift would hurt some nannies feelings, they are emotionaly involved with the family. Charlotte NY NY

  10. I like to think of a bonus as separate from the gift. But the gift of a trip to Carribean for me and my partner was worth a lot. I'll never forget and never expect it from future jobs (or I might get my hopes up and get disappointed).

  11. One year the single mom gave me tons and tons of gifts. It cost her a lot but none of it was heartfelt. I got a George Foreman grill and some cologne and various of generic gifts proving she had no clue what I liked or wanted. Very generous but a heartfelt gift that costs nothing always means more. I cherish cards made by the kids and that cost nothing but time.

  12. bonus : something in addition to what is expected or strictly due: as a : money or an equivalent given in addition to an employee's usual compensation I'm a little dismayed that an attitude of entitlement continues to seep through the nanny profession. The belief that a bonus is to be expected, and that it had better be as good as or better than the year previous is in complete contradiction to the meaning of a bonus.The belief that employers are somehow accountable to their nannies for their financial decisions is absurd. An employer has every right to decide how to spend their own money, and if they choose to buy gifts for their relatives and not give nanny the bonus she feels entitled to, nanny can either live with that reality or she can find other employers.If we want to be seen as professionals, complaining about not getting what we feel entitled to is not a good way to present ourselves in the public eye. Why not look at what you DO have instead?As a nanny who has been job searching for 5 months, if any of the commenters don't get what they feel they deserve as a bonus this year, feel free to quit your job and let me know where to apply to replace you. I'll take your steady paycheck in a heartbeat, and I won't pout about bonuses next year.P.S. How exactly do you inform your employers that you expect a bonus? I can't imagine having that discussion…

  13. To explain to the p.s. above nannies don't bring up the topic of the bonus it is the responsiblity of the parents/employers to bring it up. I think "tales from nannyhood" has misunderstood.Parents should tell nannies why bonus is lower to lessen ANXIETY of the nanny. Not entitlement by the nanny, worry by the nanny about what she has done wrong to not deserve a bonus.I agree with the comments and article that parents SHOULD EXPLAIN to the nanny WHY she is getting a lower bonus or not getting one — of the nanny will be worried.Any great nanny will stay with a great family even if the family is having an economic tough time. Money isn't everything!We don't go into this profession to be millionaires. Obviously! In corporations, retail, restaraunts, everywhere, the boss explains why employees won't be getting bonuses. Parent/employers should do the same thing if they want a good working relationship.If you have been getting $500 per year, for example, and this year you get $200 the obvious reaction for a nanny is to worry. She will worry, "What did I do wrong?" Or, "Do they not like me anymore?" Or worse, get mad.I hear what "Tales from nannyhood" is saying. But that's not why parents should tell nannies why low bonus. IT's not to be entitled but not worried that job is in jeapordy. Along with a spirit of gratefulness parents should ensure their nannies know how grateful they are — even when they can't pay a bonus.Typically when parent/employers lower the bonus they are mad about something. Tales of nannyhood should honestly think about what her friends have done when this has happened to them. What did they say or think? Usually they don't yell and stomp around, but they worry about what they did wrong or ask why this has happened. and when this has happened to them. How did they feel? Did they complain? Of course they did! Most parents that lower the bonus do so because they feel the nanny isn't "pulling her weight" or is no longer motivated, or hasn't done a good job. She doesn't deserve it.So instead of resentment the parents and nanny should communicate. Parents that are passive aggressive by not giving a bonus don't create a better employee.I have had jobs where I got $100 in a card and that was it and I didn't quit. No, obviously I don't know how to bring up the topic of why I didn't get the higher bonus. THe nanny isn't the one to bring up the discussion. The parent/employer has to bring up the discussion.The parent says, "We don't want you to get upset Debbie. We appreciate you and your relationship with our children. But, we didn't get bonuses at our jobs this year so please don't be insulted that we are spending less on others this year. We thank you for your hard work."If they don't then the nanny's mind starts to race out of control trying to figure out what she has done wrong.Not entitlement, ANXIETY!What about the mom awhile back who asked nannies what to do about an unmotivated nanny. She wasn't going to give her a raise and tell the nanny it was due to the economy. That's backhanded. The nanny cannot be more motivated by not getting a raise and no explanation why.Almost all the nannies that replied to that mother said she needs to explain to the nanny what needs to be accomplished to get the raise. Or, don't accomplish those tasks and not get a raise. That's the time to straighten out the work relationship.I think like others said, professional or career nannies go into the profession for the love of it and not for the salary. (Teachers, firemen, police officers probably say the same thing).But it is wise for parents to be upfront if there is going to be a low bonus — if they want to keep the employees!If the parents want to keep the nanny but can't afford a bonus all they need to do is explain that. Not entiitlement. Honesty. Appreciation.

  14. funny englishnannyny because nannies really are mostly emotional people. So true that anxiety and worry go with this profession.Lori Hamilton

  15. So tales from nannyhood doesn't think the parents get upset when they get a smaller bonus than the year before? Why are you expecting nannies to be superhuman and not wonder why they got a lower bonus this year compared to last year? We are on the bottom of the pay scale so a hundred bucks means a lot more to me than my employer. They absolutely have the right to hire the cheapest nanny and spend their money as they see fit.But which is more important: quality more expensive caregiver or a cheap unhappy or unqualified one?Explaining why bonus is lower is a great way to maintain the nanny/family relationship.

  16. I found this post from Stephanie the editor of this blog a long time ago on another blog about nanny bonuses.Dear parents:Since the children are the most important priority in your life hiring a great caregiver is your most important hire let's describe who deserves a annual bonus and why:NANNY ONE1. Is your nanny reliable and shows up on time?2. Is she flexible willing to arrive early when needed or stay late as needed?3. Is your nanny warm, caring, and patient?4. Does your caregiver show an interest in your children?5. Do your instincts tell you she loves working with kids? 6. Does she show an interest in your whole family. Does she want to encourage the child and parent relationship?7. Do your children seem mostly happy and confident?8. Are the kids calm or even happy to see her each day? 9. Is your child proud of the activities they did together? 10. Can you trust her? 11. Is she comfortable with you and able to admit a mistake or accident? 12. Can she express what she thinks about developmental stage of your children — the good and the bad? 13. Does she try to think of creative solutions to problems?14. Are the kids' rooms and are the children generally clean everyday?NANNY TWO1. Does your nanny come in late and have to leave early often?2. Does your nanny seem to scold the children a lot and not enjoy their company?3. Does your caregiver get annoyed about your children's uniqeness, interests, and activities?4. Does she blame the parents for problems with the children, home, the family, or the job in front of the children or to others?5. Are your children sad, unhappy in her care, or cry when left with your nanny (beyond natural separation anxiety? 6. Are the kids watching too much television and playing too many electronic games and not involved in creative play?7. Are your personal belongings disappearing when your nanny is working? 8. Does your caregiver blame everyone else for accidents and mistakes?9. Is the nanny unwilling to help pick up the children's play areas or bathe the children?10. Have you heard your nanny is complaining about you to friends or other nannies?If the children are your number one priority which nanny deserves a bonus and why?

  17. In another discussion board there has been a thread on what the nanny knows.I can honestly say that I have had such open communication with all my former employers that I knew how their jobs were going, their spending habits (including when they could afford to or not) simply because they either brought it up. Or they worked for places that were in the news regarding layoffs, buyouts, etc. OR they were going through a finanical transisiton due to a divorce, death, etc. To me it would be awkward to now bring up why I didn't get a bonus if I knew something in that regard too.If you have been with an employer for some time you are going to get a feel for how they will treat you when it comes to gifts and bonuses. Jerks are jerks non-stop. So why get your hopes up with them, or want to find out why you didn't get a bonus. And for some bosses who honestly can't afford it might be embarrassing for them to open up and share something.We should always do self checks to see if we are genuinely doing what is expected of us.

  18. Perhaps employers "knowing" nannies get a bonus at the end of the year is a regional thing? Or a concept that is known in certain social strata and not in other? Because where I live, I don't think parents emerge from the maternity ward somehow flush with the knowledge that if they hire a nanny she must get a bonus.Ultimately, my point is that a bonus is NOT, by definition, something one should expect. It's a great thing to get, but it is EXTRA.Let's look at it this way. What family would you rather work for?Family A – Hires a nanny at a low end salary.Rarely shows appreciation with a "Thank You!"Gives large bonus.Family B – Pays nanny top end salary.Always thanks nanny as she leaves for the day.Offers a small bonus and some thoughtful gifts.Does a large bonus make up for poor treatment in other areas? Do nannies really "hang on" in bad jobs for a December bonus?Also, I am not saying ALL nannies seem to feel entitled, I am saying declarations about how employers better keep the bonus up to snuff sound entitled.I suppose that ultimately the issue of a bonus is different for every family and every nanny, just as it is for so much else in the nanny world.

  19. And yes, obviously, if a nanny always gets a bonus that increases each year, it would be wise for the parents to let her know that a smaller bonus due to economics is not reflective of her job performance.

  20. Whew, I am exhausted reading everyone's comments.I am a professional nanny currently vacationing in London because my super employers have given me this trip as my holiday gift.Every nanny I know is sympathetic to the parents. Obviously they would understand if they could not get a bonus with a parent explanation. Money is not everything, we work to love and cherish the children and if we do not support the parents in our work we hurt the children.I didn't read anywhere that nannies feel "entitled" to a bonus. (I know there are bad apples that feel that way though). It's a fact that in America all employees get holiday bonus if the business is doing well. All employees get bonuses for good job performance in America.So I can see where a careguver (nannies are emotional) feelings would be hurt because it is the American norm. I have seen it and heard it. Typically the nanny reaction I have seen and heard is being upset and wondering about what she had done wrong. Although I have heard a few get really mad and getting the lower bonus or no bonus becomes "the straw that breaks the camels back." There are bad attitude nannies (as well as in every occupation) and they make as all look bad. If the parent/nanny relationship is already tension filled and both parties are already angry with one another.I think all American employees expect a holiday bonus. In every job I have worked in I have gotten a bonus. I never got mad or felt disappointed and always am appreciative.The most important thing to do is not shop outside of your means expecting a bonus. Don't budget your gift buying with your bonus or you will spend too much. My boss gives the garbage collectors, postman, housekeepers, waitresses, hair dresser and me tips or bonuses because they are kind and can afford it.When I worked for a single mom I didn't expect one, got one, and was thrilled because I know how hard she worked.When you get a bonus (no matter the sum) use it wisely towards debt or savings or IRA. Don't shop or spend money with the bonus in mind and you won't be disappointed.I never expect it but if I got a lower sum than the year before (without a explanation from employers) I would very much wonder why and I probably would get an ulcer over it.To parents: wouldn't you prefer to have your employee thrilled as I am now vacationing in London or worried about why their bonus was so low?Carrine Chicago NannyVacationing in London as my holiday gift from parents!

  21. If you are a bad attitude nanny no bonus amount will change that.If the parents are critical and micro manage me no matter how large the bonus I won't want to work for them.

  22. Ii is true nannies make very different salaries in different part of the country because cost of living is different.But I think how much they pay bonus is more due to their friends. Mom boss's due as mom boss's friends do.

  23. I think the article is good for unknowing parents to be educated. But there really is no way nannies can confront their employers or ask their employers about bonuses. I hope the parents just read the article.Sarasita Miami

  24. Wow, to the lucky nanny on vacation in London, saying "It's a fact that in America all employees get holiday bonus if the business is doing well. All employees get bonuses for good job performance in America." is a HUGE overstatement! I don't know where in America you've been working but I can assure you that in fact every employee in America does NOT get a holiday bonus if the business is doing well nor do all employees get bonuses for good job performance.In the 19 1/2 years I've been employed since my graduation from high school, both in non-childcare jobs and in various childcare positions (including being a professional nanny for 10+ years) I have NEVER received a holiday bonus. I have gotten some gifts of cash (or gift cards) as holiday GIFTS from my employers but never just bonus cash of a weeks wages or more for a job well done. If I'm not doing my job well I get fired, it's as simple as that. If I am doing exceedingly well I might "expect" a raise, but I would never "expect" a bonus.I definitely get the vibe from this conversation that many nannies view an end of year bonus as entitlement. If your employers gave you an ipod last year as a Christmas gift and this year only give you a $50 itunes gift card are you going to worry yourselves into a panic because the gift isn't as extravagant this year as last? Does your gift reflect on your job performance as well?If you are so worried that your bonus is less this year than last because of your performance as a nanny then stop worrying yourself into sickness and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! That would be a great time to have a conversation with your employers about what other tasks you could pick up around the house to help them more.-Professional Nanny in Atlanta

  25. TALES FROM NANNYHOOD WROTE:I don't think parents emerge from the maternity ward somehow flush with the knowledge that if they hire a nanny she must get a bonus.That is the point. The article is to inform parents!!!

  26. My current job is the first at which I've received a year-end bonus. My earlier jobs were all for either first-time parents, immigrant parents, or both. They were all great jobs, the parents and kids were delightful, and I got a holiday present at each–but no bonus. Was I upset? No. I assumed that, being new to the nanny scene or to America, the parents either didn't know that a bonus was a common (but not NECESSARY) practice, or they thought a thoughtful present would be more appreciated. Which it totally was. I knew they liked me, and I knew I was doing a good job. I didn't need some cash to tell me that.The parents at my current job are better off financially than any I've worked with before (and they live in Manhattan, where bonuses are given to just about everyone this time of year), and they have given me generous bonuses every year. I don't remember how much they were in past years, so I can't compare to this year's, but if it was less I'm certainly not complaining–that's money I didn't strictly earn and I'm grateful for it.

  27. I appreciate any gift. Seriously, I feel blessed to have such a great job. It is true though if the parents paid me more last year than this year my mind would be spinning wondering what I did wrong. So true. So I think the idea of the parents simply telling me the reason would be so helpful. I wouldn’t leave a family that can’t afford a lot this year. But I have heard of nannies that go on work strike when they aren’t given an annual raise or bonus. Most sensitive types and it’s smart to communicate with them often!Most gracious nanny

  28. OK ladies, I brought this article into my therapists office this morning and she said we can absolutely explain to our employers the need for a bonus as well as asking for it in cash.See, I have always received a good bonus (one year not but the mother was single so I understood would never say anything). I am grateful too.My therapist wants me to explain to the parents that last year's bonus pushed me up into a higher tax bracket and I paid one-third of my salary in taxes. Had they just given me that Christmas gift in cash in a card as a gift I would not have had paid such a high percentage.Now, I know I will get grief for this sounding like I am not grateful when I absolutely totaly am. But that's my reality. And there is no reason not to discuss anything if you can say it with respect and graciousness.I probably won't ask for my bonus in cash although my therapist told me to and we even role – played it. I still feel it's makes me sound presumptious (? spelling). The bonus is a wonderful thing. I was never angry at any amount. I always love it. Icing to working for a great family.Anyway, I know my bonus requires the parents get bonuses, that I work hard, try my best (not perfect of course) and just pitch in as much as I can. It is great to be rewarded with cash. It goes right to my debts.

  29. Don't our employers who work in finance and corporations know the % of their bonuses due to performance?Wasn't it even in the headlines this year? AIG executives to have caps on their bonuses?If they can ask to get a bonus why can't we?

  30. I think it's good for parents to learn proper tipping. Not every parent can afford a nanny in the first place. But the ones that can and that have the extra money it means more to the nanny than the parents.My weekly salary is much lower than theirs. Another week as a bonus is just wonderful!!!Farrah, Bay Area San Fran

  31. I've been following this toppic for days on this blog and other nanny message boards, news reports.I appreciate this blog educating nanny employers so they will know the "general guidelines" for Holiday Bonuses/Gift Giving to their nannies.But every year when this time comes it's usually the same no matter if the times are good or as they are now. The nannies that get great bonuses/ gifts brag. And the nannies who feel they got jipped complain. Either way, *most* sound like they are spoiled brats! If you go into a job, only accept it if it's a fair salary. Don't live beyond your means. That way you won't have to rely on a Holiday Bonus.Just because an employer gets a HUGE Bonus at the Holidays- does not have anything to do with you!Some families are just not good at giving gifts. Don't feel slighted.Take into account the entire year and how you are treated.Not just one Holiday. If you rely on this one thing to make or break your Holiday, you are cheating yourself from the happiness/meaning of this time of the year. Also, don't you all get *Nanny-versary* Year End Bonuses? and do a six-month or year writtne performance review- where you sit down with the family and discuss your performance, the challenges the new year will bring? That is the time to ask for a bonus and raise-and toot your own horn. Not at the Holidays..IMO…Be thankful for what you have!

  32. Here's the thing no one has mentioned. I am a single mother and I have to buy my children gifts, I have to buy their daycare gifts, my super for my building, my hairdresser too. I have to do this and the bonus is what allows me to tip my superintendent and hair dresser and my kid's teachers. Without the bonus I would not be able to tip those I need to thank as well.Tonya, Mom and Nanny Staten Island NY

  33. I got a bonus but not a gift. I know cash is more important but no gift makes me feel really badly. Why couldn't the kids spend a few minutes and make me a card? O am not quitting now way. But I took the time to plan and buy gifts for all memmbers of the family including parents. Expense is not the issue at all. Thought is the issiue and efrort. I would have been happy if the kids made me cards.I am going to put the cash towards credit card debt which is important and more importnt than cards made by the kids I suppose. I am going to shake it off and have a great Chrismas anyway. K do hope they enjoy my generous gifts anyway.

  34. I got a really weird bonus sum. I can't figure out how they came up with this sum. I can't add week salary in any way into the sum, it's is larger than one week or two week but not as large as two-half weeks or three weeks. It ends in a weird cent (53 cents) so it's just strange. Unfortunately rounding it up would have been easier and it's just weird. I think it is $250 less than last year but they boast how much they love me. Whatever, happy to be working and getting a bonus. Merry Christmas!!

  35. A nanny is typically a woman that lives in your home. To not give her gifts at holiday time should feel "wrong" when giving gifts to everyone else in your family. Of course she is an employee not a family member and you should not be expected to buy her a dozen gifts like your own children. But, since she is in your home and essentially a working member of the family to not include would hurt her feelings.Experienced, Professional, Live-In NannyCharlotte from Redmond WA

  36. I got $2,000+ bonus, a kindle ($200+) and a flip video camera!!

  37. I got a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble and a framed picture of the kids. I think I would have like a punch to the face a lot better…

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