Should I Buy a Christmas Gift for My Baby Sitter? House Cleaner? Dog Walker?

| December 4, 2012

female dog walkerDo regular service providers make your Christmas gift list? They should. After all, these professionals take care of your family members and home. Learn how to gift or tip appropriately, then use DexKnows listings to wrap up your Christmas shopping 2012.

Child care providers

What you give depends on how often these service providers care for your children. The Emily Post website recommends one week of pay and a gift from your little ones for a live-in nanny or au pair, while one night’s pay and a small gift would be appropriate for a regular baby sitter.

When it comes to day care providers, also consider the time spent with your children, as well as the number of employees. If you use a large day care at which many employees work, $25 per employee who regularly interacts with your children will suffice, and you can go up to as much as $70 each for smaller day cares. Again, also include small gifts from your children on your holiday shopping 2012 list.


While your tax dollars or tuition contribute to a teacher’s salary, keep in mind that these educators do not work for you, making a cash gift inappropriate, says the Emily Post website. You may give a thoughtful gift, though, from your children. Steer clear of the usual “World’s Best Teacher” items and instead purchase a gift card or certificate in a small amount. This rule also applies to other school employees, such as your children’s bus driver.

Health care providers

Again, keep in mind that a private nurse works for an agency, and nursing home employees work for the institution. A thoughtful gift will show your appreciation to a nurse, while a gift basket — featuring food that can be shared among staff members at the home — is appropriate.

Pet care providers

Just as with those who care for your children, consider the amount of time these service providers spend with your pets. recommends a holiday tip of one week of pay for a walker who exercises your dogs year-round. If you use the dog walker infrequently, consider gifting one or two days’ pay around the holidays. Pet sitters also tend to work infrequently, making a holiday tip of 20 percent of a typical stay’s bill appropriate. If your trip happens close to the holidays, bring back a small souvenir for your pet sitter, as well. If the same groomer cares for your dog’s coat year-round, the Emily Post website recommends tipping the cost of one session, instead of the regular tip, or giving a gift during the holidays.

Personal care providers. 

Your hair stylist, nail technician, massage therapist and personal trainer keep you looking your best all year. If you regularly use the same service providers, give a special holiday tip that equals the cost of one session. If you know the person well enough, you can give a thoughtful gift instead.

Home service providers

The Emily Post website recommends one week’s pay as a holiday tip and/or a small gift for your house cleaner. If your home requires regular visits from a handyman, including help with putting up outdoor Christmas decorations and holiday lights, the website suggests giving $15 to $40 as a holiday tip or a gift. Since these lawn and pool service providers typically work as a crew, the cost of one visit to be divided among the employees serves as a special tip.

Postal workers

The United States Postal Service has regulations when it comes to holiday tipping of its mail carriers. They may not accept cash or gift cards, but they can take with them small gifts with no more than a $20 value. If you would like to exceed that value, give a perishable gift that your carrier can take back to the branch to share.

When saying thank you to the service providers in your life during the holiday season, be sure to inquire about tipping and gifting policies if the person does not work directly for you. Certain businesses may prohibit employees from accepting tips or gifts, while others may require them to share with a pool of employees. If you can and do decide to give gifts, DexKnows listings can help with your Christmas shopping list.

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Category: Holiday Shopping

About the Author ()

Pamela Mitchell spent more than 15 years at daily newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and Houston Chronicle before becoming a full-time freelancer. She now writes about a variety of topics, from dining and entertainment to pets and travel.