Gifts & Bonuses for Daycare Providers

Parent Q&A

Tipping when leaving a daycare Jun 2, 2019 (2 responses below)
Chinese New Year bonus - how much to give Jan 22, 2019 (5 responses below)
  • Tipping when leaving a daycare

    (2 replies)

    We absolutely love our daughter's daycare and would like to give her teachers a generous bonus when we move this summer. Much of the advice out there is "how much do I have to tip at the holidays" but what we'd like to know is how much is an appropriate but generous tip, after 18 months of care? We would like to give to her two primary teachers (one who had her for a few months, one who had her for over a year), as well as a smaller tip to the other teachers who helped take care of her. We have seen 1-2 weeks' tuition split between the teachers as an appropriate holiday tip, which would be about $500 divided (unevenly) between 9 people, and we would like to give more than that. Is there an amount that would be considered "too much" for one person to receive, and in some way offensive?

    I have two kids that went through day care and private schools and have relatives who are teachers. No amount of a cash 'appreciation' is too much, and no appreciation is too little. If you give cash along with a card in a closed envelope (with a nice card) it remains anonymous w/ the pool of employees. This is the Bay Area where the disparity of income is huge so being as generous as you can and modeling good behavior helps us all all co-exist. As FYI, I believe some/most private schools will ask you to contribute to an equitable gift-pool in December but end of year is a free-for-all.

    You're leaving, so there is no concern in my mind that you might be seen as trying to "bribe" the caretakers for preferential are of your child in the future. That would be the only circumstance where I would worry about giving too much. If you're able to give generously to someone who took great care of your kid, why not? We've done this in the past, and hope to keep on doing this as long as we are financially able to, as we travel a lot and have to leave great caretakers behind. They're always very happy to see us and care for our kids when we need occasional care and find ourselves in the right city.

  • Chinese New Year bonus - how much to give

    (5 replies)

    How much do you normally give to your daycare provider as Chinese New Year bonus? We are Caucasian, and our daughter is attending a Chinese daycare. They have two caregivers, one lady is the owner, and the other one is a paid helper. I feel they are doing a great job. I was thinking giving $100 to the owner, and $50 to the helper. Do you think this is adequate? Would you give more? Less? Thank you very much for your input!

    I would treat it same as a holiday bonus.  Did you also give a bonus during Christmas time?  If yes, then do a small amount for Chinese New Year.  If no, then you can give an amount that most others give for holidays instead.  There is a lot of advice out there in terms of amount to give daycare or nannies for holidays, but it really depends on what you can afford.  $100/$50 split sounds reasonable. 

    How thoughtful of you! I think either amount will be appreciated but I would say give the same to both—just because someone is the owner doesn’t mean they are doing more to care for your daughter. I think it is best to keep that fair no matter what the position of someone, they both care for your daughter. 

    I checked with family members from Canton province. 

    Their prime tradition is to give two ley see (red Chinese envelopes) with at least one crisp one dollar bill folded into each. You are supposed to give these to unmarried people, which in practice means mostly kids in your family and friends' children. In a large family that means the kids get a great haul of cash, and the adults are out a lot of money. 

    The feedback I got was that ley see is always welcome and you can adapt the amount and the custom to suit your situation. In traditional Chinese society the grandmother provides daycare, although modern life has changed that. But it's a very thoughtful gesture to give the providers money; sort of the equivalent of tipping people who provide you with personal services at Christmas, since their expenses are higher at this time, and it acknowledges your relationship and how much you appreciate their hard work.

    How you do it is important and adds to making it gracious. It should be cash and if possible the bill or bills should be new. The traditional red envelopes may be hard to find; they are usually available at Asian markets and a few Asian banks, but there aren't a lot of those in the East Bay (except maybe the 99 Ranch Market in El Cerrito).  I'd suggest as a substitute a small envelope in pink/red/gold of a good quality paper. You could fold one or get it at Paper Source. Hold the envelope with both hands while presenting and say Gung Hay Fat Choy (Happy New Year).  You should give the ley see, it wouldn't be appropriate for your daughter to give it.

    A gift to both owner and employee is appropriate and I don't know if the amounts should be the same or different. Avoid any amount with a "four" in it, four is unlucky.  I think 60 or 80 would be good since 6 and 8 are lucky numbers. Give what you feel you can comfortably afford, remembering that you should give the same amount next year if they are still providing child care.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Holiday gift for daycare providers?

Nov 2010

I know I'm planning early, but what is the norm for holiday gifts for daycare providers? Specifically, my 1 year old son attends an awesome small, in home day care 3 days a week. thinking about december

I had the same question last year as it was my first experience. We ended up giving the leader of the daycare $100 and the assistant $50. They were extremely, extremely grateful. This year I'd like to get it together to make each one something nice, a knitted scarf or a banner for the daycare space. Somthing a little more personal to show my appreciation for all they do for my daughter and our family. grateful

Last year I couldn't get it together to get a gift, and we ended up giving our wonderful day care provider $100. I felt bad that it was so impersonal, but didn't want to end up doing nothing because, with an infant and working full time, I didn't have time to get a gift, and I wasn't sure what kind of gift card would be useful. She was extremely appreciative. So this year I plan to get a gift AND STILL the $100. Do the math - helps her holidays. There is only one person at my daycare, but if there were an assistant I would plan to give some smaller amount. Happy with my DCP b


Holiday bonus for daycare providers?

Nov 2009


Is it customary around the winter holidays to give a bonus to out-of-home child daycare providers? We know nannies often get a holiday bonus, but what about small family daycares? If a bonus is customary, is cash best or gifts? If cash, how much? Our caregivers are obviously better off than we are, but we really appreciate everything about what they do for us and our family, and we are not stingy. Happy to say thank you with a holiday bonus or gift, but also do not want to be inappropriate. What do others do? Not stingy

I have been a child care provider for almost twenty years and yes, we do do it because we love our work,certainly not to make money. I am a single parent with three kids myself (one in college, two in high school) and am always struggling to make ends meet. Important things like health insurance are very expensive for the self-employed. So yes, please show your appreciation, it's the thought that counts. I have received between $20 to $300 in cash, cash is always the most helpful; I usually use it to treat my family to eating out, as we can never afford to on our own. Other favorites of mine are movie tickets (again we normally can't afford to go and see a movie). A gift certificate for a massage would be great too - I suffer from neck and shoulder problems from lifting children for so many years. Of course, a note or letter saying how you feel about your provider is wonderful too, we know we're doing a great job,but it's nice to hear the parents acknowledge it. A child care provider


Give a gift in addition to paid vacation?

Dec 2008


Our child is in a small home-based daycare on a part time schedule, a couple of days a week. The daycare will be closed for 2 weeks over the holidays and they would like us to pay them our regular rate for the weeks they are closed.

My question is, should I give the daycare provider something in addition to the 2 week vacation pay? I'm extremely happy with them but times are a little tight financially for us and I don't want to over-do it or under-do it. I do want to make sure that they feel appreciated - because they are! Oh the holidays!

We wrestled with this question, too, for our full-time daycare and decided to give as generous a gift as financially possible. For us, the teachers are fill-in parents to our kid each week and enable us to go out and work and provide for our family. You can't put a price on that. They have a hard job that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. They work for low wages. They deserve the gift more than say, my mom, who doesn't need another cashmere sweater. We are saving elsewhere in our holiday budget so we can give a decent bonus to daycare. I can't suggest a certain gift size, but I'd encourage you to err on the generous side (in proportion to your financial situation) and not worry about what other parents are doing. Above all, a thoughtful, thank-you card costs just a few bucks but will mean a lot to your provider. Go with your gut, your intentions are good. anon

I think holiday gifts are optional, and a nice note about how much you appreciate them in your child's life and maybe a quote from your child and/ or drawing can be enough. However I would not consider 2 weeks vacation pay as your gift to them; this was standard practice when my kids (now 7 and 10) were in home daycare and I'm guessing it is in a contract agreed upon when the child enrolled at the school. (If indeed you have not previously agreed to holiday tuition and it is a sudden request, then that would seem to me an excessive holiday present even to someone so important to your family.) chris

Hi, I'm a family childcare provider, so I appreciate your question. Don't think about the vacation time when considering a gift. Chances are you pay her monthly based on a weekly rate, based on a 4 week month, so you are really only paying her for 48 weeks over a 52 week period. That might make thinking about her vacation time easier. Also, if she's like me, she makes about $20,000 per year and works well over 40 hours per week (and I am on the higher end of pricing!)

That said, if you can't afford a gift, do give her a card or another small token. I've had families give me hugely expensive gifts, which are great, but I've also had families give me thoughtful notes about how much they appreciate the care and love I give their child. Sometimes people will bake something, always a winner! If your provider has a child too, offer to babysit (that's a HUGE one for me!)The usual small gifts are great too: bookstore gift certificates, a Trader Joe's gift card, something personal for the provider, that sort of thing. good luck! a lucky childcare provider

Our daycare closes for several days at the holiday time and for two weeks in August. These are ''paid vacation'' just like most of us get at work...not ''presents''

If you want to get them a present, then I am sure it would be appreciated. This is our third holiday with our home daycare team (2nd child there). I have gotten gift certificates each time...first for an excellent local restaurant ($100 each) and then next year for Nordstrom's ($75 each for the full time and $40 for the part timer who started that year). I think I am on the high end of gifts as they always seem REALLY thankful. This year there is a parent trying to arrange a group gift. She asked everyone for $40...$20 for the lead person and $10 each for the other full time and the part time. I donated to be part of the group, but will likely do something in addition as to me this is just too low for someone who takes full time excellent care of my child.

Again, I am probably on the high end...but I figure when I am paying nearly $1000/mo in care that that isn't really that much. BTW: this is in regular old Oakland...not a fancy Piedmont or ''other side of the tunnel'' place.

At our pre-school, pretty much all of the parents donated $50- 100 for gifts...and we are buying what I consider HUGE gifts for the teachers (spending $225 on part time and $400 on full time)...but if each parent gave like I give for the would be even bigger...

Can't wait to hear what others say as this isn't really a question to be discussed openly... As confused as everyone else


Holiday gifts for owners of daycare?

Dec 2008


Hello, Our daughter is in a wonderful home daycare, and I'm wondering how people typically show thanks to their daycare caregivers (who are the owners of the daycare) during the holidays. Cash (if so, what are the typical ranges)? Gifts? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks! Anonymous

Last year the families in our daycare gave a group gift to our daycare provider and her assistant. We will do this again this year. Everyone can still contribute whatever amount they want and your providers get really nice gifts. We gave gift certificates - restuarant, spa and fabric store. Hope this helps. Happy Holidays! Daycare Momma

I give one week's pay in cash. anon

We did give our daycare provider some small thoughtful gifts for Christmas. Things that I knew she would like because of comments she had made. We spent less than $30 on her, but she loved what we gave her. It's the thought that counts. We had also at times pooled money from several families and bought her a spa gift card. Just a couple of ideas... been there

We adored our daycare provider. My girls went to her for two years from babyhood till they started preschool. We gave her a gift basket with homemade cookies and an ornament. I don't remember if we did a gift card the first year but when we moved on we gave her a similar basket and a gift card to a family restaurant ($50). - cheers for the daycare providers

when my boys were at a home daycare, one year i gave the owners a gift certificate to peet's ''coffee-of-the-month'' delivery program. they were able to enjoy a different coffee each month for 6 months and they truly enjoyed it and it wasn't too much money. the owner thanked me for at least a year afterwards, so i know she really appreciated it. good luck! gift giver

I generally spend $20/caregiver at my daughter's preschool. There are 4 teachers. I know a teacher friend who says she prefers gift certificates over ''things'' which she has received many of over the years. So last year, I gift certificated them each $20 to the local coffee shop/cafe where they often take their breaks. Movie tickets, a gift certificate to a restaurant they may enjoy, a nordstrom gift certificate all ideas. Caregivers deserve such tokens


Christmas bonus to daycare provider?

Dec 2006


My daughter goes to a family childcare center, a few days a week. A husband and wife team run the center out of their home. I'm wondering what's appropriate to give in terms of a Christmas ''bonus'' or gift. Is that typically done? If so, what should I give the daycare provider? Money? How much? Something else? Any ideas are appreciated
etiquette-challenged mom

Daycare providers do not earn a whole lot of income, so money is the most appreciated gift. I know, because I was a teacher in one and I have a friend who owns one. Often, we can not afford things which many we serve take for granted, like health insurance. So, any amount that you can afford without straining your budget is appreciated, even $20 enclosed in a card with kind words of appreciation. Pam

My daughter went to a family daycare for two years and we always exchanged gifts, both with the provider and the other kids there (there were only three others). My husband was not comfortable giving just money, so I gave the provider a bottle of wine and a check for one week's worth of service. For the other kids, I gave a small toy, approx $5 each anon


Holiday gift for daycare provider

Nov 2004


What have others done for their kids daycare providers for a holiday gift/ bonus. Both my children attend a small home daycare, do we get a gift (suggestions?) or give her a bonus (how much?)? I checked the archives and there was advice on nannies but I couldn't find any on daycare providers. thanks.. anon

I gave my daycare provider a gift certificate for a massage one year, and for a brunch at a nice restaurant another year. She loved them both. Karen

As a mom of two and former preschool teacher, I suggest that the safest ''gift'' is a card written from your heart telling each teacher why you value her (or his) contribution to your family and society, and what she (or he) means to your child. Material gifts may be appreciated but unless you know the teacher well it is hard to be certain what would be welcome. In this hurried society, I think a hand written note expressing appreciation for the teacher's life work is of more value than most objects. If your child is old enough to help decorate it or dictate part of it, all the better. - Charis

I'm not a big fan of giving money, and there several women that share in the day care duties. Instead, last year I bought some art supplies for the day care center, since they were always making things, but I'm sure any supplies would be welcome (books, puzzles, toys) and a tree ornament for each provider at the day care center. If you know that your providers don't decorate trees, you could give some other holiday gift or some homemade cookies. anon

We also have a small in home family daycare provider. I found that they are big Blockbuster rental fans on the weekends so last year we gave a 6 month subscription to Netflix. They LOVED it. Rhea


Parting gift for daycare provider

June 2004


My son will soon be leaving his home-based daycare to start at a preschool. He has been very happy there almost one year and a half. I would like to give the owner/caregiver a thank you gift, but I don't know what would be appropriate. I can only spend between 30$ and 50$ at the most. Any ideas about what would be appreciated and show our gratitude for the love and care he has received? Grateful Mom

When my wonderful daycare lady retired, I got her one of those large regional cookbooks with the gorgeous photos - they're really more coffee table books than cookbooks. She loved Santa Fe and New Mexico, so this fit in with both her home decor and her personal interest. These books are often sold at Costco, and cover a lot of different countries/regions. Just an idea for you. Loved my daycare lady

Gift certificates are the best gifts for teachers. They may seem less personal, but they needn't be. If you know something of her interests, you can get something that fits them, but still allows her to get something she wants. I have had a great response to giving Elephant Pharmacy gift certificates to teachers, co-workers, etc. One teacher turned out, unb! enownst to me, to be into Ikebana flower arranging, and bought flowers there and loved the gift. She said the flowers were very good quality/price. Another friend bought candles and some meditation music on cd. It's great for the health conscious or spiritual. But it could be from a sports store, craft store like Michael's, or almost anywhere. anne

As much as I try to avoid giant stores, I have found that gift cards to Target and Blockbuster have been extremely well recieved by day care staff, teachers, and teachers aides. D. Moran

My mom, a retired elementary teacher, says that the best gifts she got were letters and cards expressing the students' and parents' appreciation for the work they did, what they learned, how they were influenced for the better, etc. Not that she didn't like See's candy and so forth, but these personal recollections were more precious than material goods. Anon.

Hey, I'm a preschool teacher myself and I can tell you that one of the best gifts I receive are gift certificates to bookstores. That way, I can buy books for school or splurge and buy something for myself. Nanu

What about a gift certificate for some kind of ''self-care'' service (brunch at a nice restaurant, a massage, a manicure if she keeps her hands nice, etc.)? The thought being give her a gift that ''takes care of her'' in return for all her care for your child? Karen