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Your Holiday Gifts Budget: How Much to Spend on Teachers and Sitters

Amy Mikler, Barbara Spoettel

Should you give a gift to...

…the nanny? Definitely.You trust your child with her. If that doesn't earn her a spot, what does?

Budget: A small gift from your child ($5 to $15) plus a week's pay. “As soon as he's old enough, include your child in picking a gift,” says Katie Bugbee, managing editor of care.com. Her then 3-year-old chose a bright scarf and furry gloves last year. “He was really proud to give them to her.”

 

the daycare worker/preschool teacher? Totally.She's a big part of your kid's life—and who works harder, really?

Budget: $20 to $75 each in cash or a gift certificate. Or collect for a class gift. Thinking of re-gifting? Might want to think again in this case. “Preschoolers will spill the beans pretty fast,” laughs Bugbee. “‘Oh, that's the scarf Aunt Jean gave Mommy!’”

 

...the grade school teacher? Probably. Some districts discourage gifts; check if you're unsure. Always OK: a card or cookies.

Budget: $5 to $20, or collect for a class gift. Gift certificates are great, suggests the NEA. Try to avoid clichés: apples, knickknacks…and mugs! “I received a lot of coffee mugs even though I never drank coffee or indicated I had an inclination to start,” laughs Gretchen Oltman of Bellevue, NE, a mom of two.

 

that playmate mom who totally gets you? Maybe.She's always there to calm your fears (fever?!)—or listen to you vent over a venti latte.

Budget: $15 to $25. “The best gifts aren't about how much you spend,” says Peggy Post, author of the 18th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette. “They reflect how much the person means to you.” Think: Something fun she wouldn't buy for herself (but wants!).

 

…the babysitter? Yep. Do you want to count on her to show up for your Saturday date nights? Thought so.

Budget: Double her pay for her last gig before the holidays, plus a small gift ($5 to $10). Money and gift cards are tops on sitters' lists, according to a sittercity.com poll, “but a homemade gift from the kids—a card or cookies—adds a personal touch,” says site founder Genevieve Thiers.

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