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Holiday Tipping Tips for Daycare Workers and Other People Who Keep You Sane

Posted by Kara Baskin  December 20, 2012 09:00 PM

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Several days ago, a friend with two little kids posted this on her Facebook page:

What is an appropriate holiday "tip" for daycare workers? Please chime in, moms (and dads!). I was about to go in on a group give for our daycare workers until I learned how little some of the other parents are giving and am horrified. I'm considering pulling out of the arrangement and doing our own thing, as in past years. … One mom mentioned giving $5-10 total. There are 3 or 4 caregivers per room, so potentially not even $2 each.

Many shocked parents weighed in on her post—and other friends and I talked about it afterward—with advice ranging from tipping a week’s worth of tuition to giving $50 per teacher to giving cash and also buying the classroom a tangible “present,” like supplies. Regardless, most everyone agreed: Giving a meager cash “tip” to the (often underpaid) teachers who nurture and protect our kids day after day in order to cut corners is almost insulting.

It’s also a delicate issue, though: For many parents, money is tight (I type after sheepishly reviewing my American Express balance, which reveals a torrid love affair with Amazon Prime). Not everyone can afford to spread the cash around and then maybe pile on a class gift or two on top of that. Many daycares and preschools are very expensive to begin with—shocker!—and if you have more than one kid enrolled, the costs are downright astronomical.

And that’s just daycare. Add in the babysitter, mailman, recycling guy, or hairdresser, and you could be staring down a January of ramen noodles and debt. My friend found this very handy guide from Emily Post (yep, Em has a website) that breaks down the ins and outs of proper holiday gift-giving. Turns out there’s some room for creativity, so don’t be afraid that if you give your hair stylist homemade treats instead of a big fat check she’ll curse you with a mullet next time around.

So check out EP's helpful chart (erm, ignore the part about the butler—unless, of course, you have a butler, in which case you’re probably not worried about your tipping budget) and remember to always include a handwritten, hopefully heartfelt note with your gift. Especially when it comes to those caregivers: They deserve it, and a simple thank you, particularly these days, goes a long way.

What's your stance on tipping? Do you have a rule of thumb? Does it stress you out? We went in with a group on a cash gift for Andy's teachers, and I'm picking up literary classic Herb the Vegetarian Dragon (by request) for a class gift.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Kara Baskin (@kcbaskin) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and mom to Andy. She thinks Sriracha and garlic make everything tastier. She loves Steely Dan and "Murder, She Wrote." Her More »

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