Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder of Care.com

HOLIDAY TIPPING TIPS
By Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder of www.Care.com

Gift-giving can be confusing, especially when it comes to caregivers and other service providers. Determining the etiquette behind finding the right gift for the right person is a tough challenge! I've put together a few tips and tricks to help guide your family when it comes thanking your caregivers this holiday season.

Tips for Child Care Providers:

• Nannies and Au Pairs: If you have a full-time nanny, offer them a tip or a "Christmas bonus" that reflects 10-15 percent of one week's pay.

• Regular babysitters: If you have a regular, go-to sitter who takes care of your children regularly, thank her (or him!) with a tip or a gift ranging from one or two night's pay—whatever equals about a week's worth of service.

• Coaches, tutors, and instructors: I always like to have Adam involved in thanking his teachers with a small gift or a thank-you card and a gift certificate.

• Pet sitters: If you have someone regularly take care of your animals while you're at work or traveling, say thank you with a week's pay. And if your dog is like Blake and Sydney and requires regular visits to a groomer, don't forget them, either!

• Home-care attendants and caregivers: I suggest a thank-you of one week's pay, but give two weeks for extra special care or long-term service.

If money is tight, you can be creative about saying thank you for your regular caregivers. Often, families give them a few extra days in paid time off to use throughout the year. Your cost remains the same, but you don't have to worry about finding extra funds for gifts around the holidays.

But beyond the care providers you can find on Care.com, there are a lot of folks out there who bring care into our lives and deserve an extra thank you. Some of these people can be forgotten during the holidays—but not by you!

Other People You Should Tip:

• School bus drivers: I find they're often overlooked. A small thank you (a $10 gift certificate and a card signed by your children) is a nice "something extra" in December.

• Service industries: Think of the people that make your home life a little easier—your mail and newspaper delivery people and garbage collectors While you don't have to necessarily tip them a week's wage or the price of a recycling pickup, I always try to help them feel special around the holidays. A nice card with a $10 gift certificate for coffee or a plate of fresh cookies goes far when it's cold outside!

• Maintenance people: If you've hired a regular landscaper or have a building manager that regularly does work around the property, shovels walkways, and plows driveways, let them know they're appreciated. It doesn't have to be much—just slip 10-15% extra in their December bill as a thank you.

• Housekeepers: If you have a regular housekeeper or house cleaner, tell them thank you by giving them an extra week's pay during the holiday season. But if you only hire one for occasional tidying up, it's okay to just wish them a verbal "Happy Holidays!"

• Baristas/clerks: Some of us have those regular spots that we visit daily for our morning coffee or bagel. If you're used to seeing the same person and they give you great service, say thanks! Buy them a cup and give them a card. They'll be surprised, and pleased, by your consideration.

Again, just like mom always said, "It's the thought that counts." Don't feel like you have to get caught up in what you give or how much it cost. The point is to show gratitude for the people who matter to you and your family.

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