Nanny Confessions: A Gift and Holiday Tip are Important!

Which is Worse: Not Getting a Heartfelt Gift or No Bonus?


On Facebook we have been discussing holiday gift-giving and end of the year bonuses.

In America, parents thank their nannies for a job well done by giving their in-home childcare provider one-week salary for an end of the year bonus and heartfelt gifts from the kids.

Before Friday, the general consensus from our readers was that the holiday season is about giving, not receiving. Nannies were sharing advice with other caregivers to not expect gifts and financial bonuses so that they are not disappointed if their employers overlook the social norm.

Although it may sound cold, that attitude changed dramatically since Friday. My mailbox is now literally full of emails from nannies hurt that their employers either forgot to pay them a bonus or give them a gift.

I have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal articles, Cash is King and Holiday Bonus: What to Give Nanny that when parents overlook a holiday bonus, or give less than the year before, nannies do notice and they worry their job performance has fallen short. Yet, when parents cannot afford a generous bonus, all the parents need to do is be honest with their nanny. Only a Scrooge would be mad at parents that cannot afford to give generously this holiday season.

It may not be the socially acceptable thing to say, but the reality is, nannies do resent it if their employers don’t give them a small gift and one-week holiday bonus. My full email mailbox is proof of that reality.

For parents who overlooked tipping their nanny or giving their caregiver a gift, there’s still time to correct the error of their ways. If parents value their nanny and want to continue a good working relationship with the nanny, I recommend parents have their kids draw their nanny a picture and slip approximately one-week salary into a thank you card before the new year.

If parents prefer to ignore the typical holiday gift-giving and tipping traditions, without explaining to their nanny why she is not getting a bonus or gift, then they are sending the nanny a clear message that they don’t value the employee’s job performance or relationship.

Which do you think is worse: not getting a gift from the kids or no holiday bonus?


  1. BOTH! I think most people want cash. But we see the parents buying tons and tons and tons of gifts! They need to spend 3 seconds buying us one too. I give them gifts!

  2. Experts now recommend one week to one *months* pay as a typical bonus???!!! With inflation should we then expect 2 months pay within a few years?! While we tend to work for wealthy families and want to be appreciated, I feel the "typical" bonus is getting out of hand…to the point where some employers won't be able to afford it and risk being labeled a bad employer. Nannies want a raise/bonus on the anniversary of being hired, something special on Nanny Recognition Week, a gift for our birthday, gift AND bonus at Christmas. I think its time we start appreciating what our employers choose to give us and realize that there are limits they need to live within.

  3. This is the reality for so many devoted nannies. As a nanny you give and give all year and go above and beyond. After a while the families come to rely on the nanny for everything and over look her. I agree with Tobago Nanny- well said- but how to get that message across to our employers. Every year I see this, and in a month or two many are so hurt, that they will be giving notice. Really all it takes is a few minutes of the employers time to actually look the nanny in the eyes and tell them how much they appreciate them in a heart-felt way. Happy Holidays everyone- and if you don't get a gift, be happy for the positive things in your life and don't dwell on the negative.

  4. Wow anonymous, just click on the links in the article and they are suggesting 1 week to 1 month pay as a bonus. Anonymous, do you tip your garbage collector, hair stylist, door man, superintendent, housekeeper? Well why not the person raising your kids? I do tip and parents that are happy with their nanny's job performance (and that can afford it) may as well tip their nanny.

  5. I do tip. I didn't say I thought our employers should give nothing. I'm saying that expecting a MONTH worth of wages as a bonus is expecting a bit much! Do you tip your hairstylist the same amount that you pay for 4-6 hair services? I'm also pointing out that there are a LOT of families out there who simply cannont afford such a healthy bonus and a lot of nannies who are demanding more.

  6. Anonymous above…comparing a nanny to a hair stylist does not make sense. A nanny is there every week, and completes so many more roles than a hair stylist. Many nannies are FULL-time and then some employees- so honestly unless you've ever worked as a nanny full-time for years you will never fully understand. (not being snarky, just get peeved when other's who have never walked in our shoes try to make sense of certain situations that they don't have first hand exp. with.)

  7. No one wants to work for a cheap boss no matter the job!

  8. Marni rosencrance says:

    I had an employer write me a very sweet card with my bonus, it made me feel so loved an and helped to remember that when life got crazy and I worked 15-16 hour days .k

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