Chinese New Year bonus - how much to give

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!

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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.

That was what I was going to do (I'm Chinese) 😊


As someone who opened a Chinese daycare before, I think what you propose is adequate. Since you mentioned it's a bonus, gift in a monetary form makes sense, but if it's just a celebration of the Chinese New Year with the childcare provider, I'd say dim sum takeout or some Chinese pastry will work too. I'm sure they will appreciate this no matter what you give them. =)