Can You Write Off Babysitting Expenses?
Learn what babysitting expenses parents are eligible for, and receive a tax credit or deduction. It can save you thousands of dollars!
Around the holidays, it can be hard to figure out who you're supposed to give gifts to. Babysitters are in that awkward category like letter carriers, garbage collectors, and personal trainers where you may interact with them regularly, but it's hard to know what's expected in terms of gifts or bonuses.
In general, most people do give their babysitter some type of gift or bonus around the holidays. So it's considered customary and I'd recommend at least making something for them or giving something small, even if you're on a budget.
It's mostly the thought that counts. Getting a holiday gift for your babysitter doesn't have to be stressful or cost a lot of money. But you will need to plan ahead at least a little bit.
Here are some great gift ideas that you might consider getting your babysitter. Most of them are pretty easy or cost-effective. Hopefully, you'll see something meaningful that you think your sitter will enjoy.
Food makes a great gift. Whether your babysitter is an expert in the kitchen and you're providing them with high-quality ingredients they normally wouldn't buy themselves, or they're clueless when it comes to cooking and you just want to make them some fresh cookies! There's something to choose from for everyone.
You can also have the flexibility to make these items for just your babysitter, or make larger batches and check multiple people off your Christmas list at once.
The downside is that you'll usually need to wait until closer to Christmas time to make them. But you can start looking for non-perishable items you'll need like baskets, ribbon, and mason jars early if you see it on sale.
Here are some food ideas that make great gifts for your babysitter at Christmas, and for other special occasions too! You can find several recipes for each idea by searching Google or on Pinterest, these are mostly just ideas to get you thinking.
Take all of the dry ingredients needed to make your favorite cookie recipe and layer them in mason jars. Then screw the lid on tightly, wrap a nice ribbon around it, and add a note card with baking instructions.
Your babysitter will just need to add a few wet ingredients like eggs and butter to enjoy some instant cookies!
Instead of giving your babysitter a kit to prepare their own cookies, maybe you just want to make a batch for them to enjoy without any extra work. You could also make them some homemade chocolate truffles, butter tarts, or any other snack you know they enjoy.
Homemade granola is another low-cost gift that tastes great, doesn't need much fancy kitchen equipment, and is healthy too! You can make your own granola blend by mixing together nuts, cinnamon and spices, raisins, dried fruit like cranberries, sunflower seeds, coconut, and other ingredients. If you've never made granola before, start with a few smaller batches and experiment to find a mix you like.
If you've got any other specialties that you're known for like homemade bread or canned goods, most people would love to receive them as gifts too.
Kids love making gingerbread houses, but so do adults! You can buy pre-made gingerbread house kits in the store. Or if you bake, you can make your own kit. You can make it an activity that the babysitter and your kids can do together, and afterward, they can take it home to enjoy at the end of the day.
Make your babysitter a gift basket, preferably with a special theme that applies to them.
If they're a movie lover, you might make a basket with items like popcorn, candy, and a Netflix gift certificate. If you know your sitter loves gardening, they might enjoy a basket with some packets of seeds, a trowel, and a gardening hat.
If your babysitter always raves about a specific dish that you cook, why not make them some extras and gift them at Christmas?
This is a great gift for a college student, a babysitter that you know works two jobs, or anybody else who doesn't have much extra time. Make sure to label them clearly with cooking instructions.
For an added gift, buy some new Tupperware or similar reusable containers to package the meals in. Then they can continue to use them for future meals.
Does your babysitter love to cook?
They might enjoy receiving infused olive oils or vinegars, which can add complexity and subtle undertones to their dishes. You can infuse them with spices, citrus, herbs, or nuts. Package them in a nice looking bottle.
Your sitter might enjoy a gourmet salt assortment too. Or your family's custom spice blend if you've got one.
Homemade vanilla is another option that seems very fancy but is actually quite easy to make, but does take some planning ahead of time. Basically, you just take some vanilla beans and put them in a jar with vodka for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking it occasionally. Your real vanilla will taste so much better than the artificial stuff.
Some parents may frown upon the idea of giving alcohol to their babysitter. But hey, babysitters need to unwind too! As long as they're 18, 21, or whatever the legal drinking age is in your area, it can be nice to give them a bottle of wine, champagne, or even a bottle of premium Vodka.
Your babysitter will love a gift card for a high-end restaurant they wouldn't normally treat themselves to, or even just a night at their favorite regular restaurant.
I know money can be tight around the holidays, especially with a family to provide for. So here are some more frugal gifts that you can make with free, cheap, or used stuff that babysitters will still really love.
If you have something of value to offer your babysitter, you can make your own personal gift certificates.
For example, if you are good with computers you can give a gift certificate for free computer repairs or computer training. If you're a musician you could give them the gift of some free piano or guitar lessons. Perhaps your sitter has mentioned an interest in something you have a skill in like gardening, woodworking, or sewing.
Just avoid personal gift certificates that might come off as creepy... like offering your babysitter a free massage. Even if you're a certified massage therapist it's probably not a great gift idea.
Basically, anything that you can make by hand will be cheaper than buying the same type of item in a store. It will just cost your time, plus some basic materials. If you knit, sew, or quilt, you can make your babysitter a fantastic handmade gift. A nice blanket, pair of mittens, or scarf can be a great way to say thank you for all their hard work this year.
Make your babysitter a holiday recipe book with a collection of all your favorite recipes. You can pair it with small samples of each dish for them to try as well. This is a great choice if your babysitter is always raiding the leftovers in your fridge or comments about how much they like your cooking!
Get a mug or dish from the dollar store and personalize it using colored markers or special paint. You can customize it with your babysitter's name, or get your kids to add their own special design to it.
You can write on a plate or mug with regular colored Sharpie markers and bake them for 20 minutes at 250 degrees to make the design permanent so it won't wash off.
You can create your own candles at a reasonable cost. You'll need to buy candle wicks from your craft store, along with any fragrances you want to add. You can either buy wax from the store or melt down old candles that you have lying around to re-use them.
You can make an emergency sewing kit with just some basic supplies like needles, thread, spare buttons, and scissors. Put them in an old eyeglasses case to keep them all neatly contained.
If you're an artist, you can make a small painting or other pieces of artwork for your sitter.
Consider yourself a bit of a photography expert? You can even give your babysitter a framed print of your kids if you think they'd like that.
There are all kinds of things you could make for your sitter. From decorative pinecones to personalized mirrors to an apron made from an old pair of blue jeans. Check out Pinterest, because there are hundreds of new ideas for crafts you can gift this time of year.
Making your own holiday cards is a great way to save money, compared to paying $3 or more for a single card from Hallmark.
You can get a box of 50 blank cards made of assorted card stock colors at your local craft store. Then your kids can use stickers and scraps of paper to help decorate them for you.
You can sew your babysitter their very own Christmas stocking from felt or another fabric. It's a pretty quick and easy project, and you can stuff it with chocolates and other inexpensive items.
You can create your own bookmarks. Either with scraps of fabric or by printing and laminating custom photos.
Give your babysitter a custom-made Christmas ornament and they'll remember you every year when they decorate their tree. I recommend including the names of your children and the year.
If your babysitter is really close to your kids and family, a heartwarming sentimental gift might be appropriate. These gifts also won't cost very much to make, but they're still very special.
Make a scrapbook with images of your babysitter and your children, as well as reminders of their time together like tickets to the zoo or children's movies, the first pair of shoelaces they helped your child tie, etc.
To make it extra sentimental, take an old hardcover book that has a worn look and glue pictures and objects directly over top of the existing text, then remove any extra pages when you're done.
Get your kids to write short notes on small pieces of paper sharing their favorite moments they've had with their babysitter. Then fold them all and put them in a big decorated jar.
Your sitter can take out one note per week for the next year and remember all the good times they've had with your children.
Give your babysitter a framed item that will mean a lot to them. Maybe something your child used to love but has outgrown. For example, an old and worn page from your child's favorite storybook that the sitter used to read to them every day.
If your babysitter has lost someone special this year to cancer, or if you know they are a huge supporter of a specific charity, make a donation on their behalf.
Instead of giving your babysitter a material object, give them an experience instead!
They might enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience like skydiving or a hot air balloon ride. Maybe something they'll remember and be able to use again like scuba diving lessons or cooking school.
If you and your babysitter have the same corny sense of humor, you might want to make them a joke or prank gift.
If you get them a gift that needs batteries, maybe wrap up a pack of batteries by itself with a note saying "gift not included" and see their reaction before you take out their actual gift.
Check out our article 37 Babysitter Pranks for more babysitter joke ideas.
Babysitters deserve some "me time" to relax after all the running around after your kids they've done all year.
Your sitter will definitely enjoy some time to decompress. A spa package including a massage, facial, and other treatments is a great idea.
You might already give your babysitter paid sick time or other perks. But giving them a day off with pay is always a welcome surprise. Whoever has to watch your kids in their place might not appreciate it so much, but your sitter definitely will!
If you can't afford to send your babysitter to a spa, you can still create a nice basket of bath supplies like bath bombs, shampoo, bubble bath, tea candles, and a loofah to let them relax at home.
One survey found that 3 out of 4 parents give their part-time babysitter some kind of gift or year-end bonus at Christmas time.
For those who gave cash:
For full-time babysitters, that number goes way up. 97% of parents gave their full-time sitter, nanny, or other childcare providers some kind of gift or bonus. Some of the most common gifts include gourmet foods, candles, and gift cards.
Of course, it depends where you're located. In expensive cities like San Francisco where you already pay a premium for babysitting, the average parent gives more than $75. In big cities like New York, babysitters are given bonuses worth $100 or more!
Yes, it's polite to give your babysitter or other childcare providers a tip around the holidays. Around Christmas, most employers give out bonuses, and you should too. Even when the economy is down and your own Christmas bonus may have been slashed or eliminated.
These types of professions rely on getting extra money around the holidays as part of their overall pay for the year. Even an extra $50 might not seem like much to you but can make a big difference to your babysitter.
For a full-time babysitter, around one week's worth of pay is a pretty good holiday bonus. You might opt to give more or less. If you're also giving Christmas gifts to your babysitter as well as money, it's fair to deduct any amounts spent on presents from your cash bonus.
For a part-time babysitter, a tip is less expected, but it's courteous to give them the amount of a normal babysitting shift, either in cash or equivalent gifts. For teenagers, a $25 - $50 gift certificate for Starbucks, iTunes, or a nail salon is probably enough by itself.
Of course, you should only give your babysitter a tip if you can afford it, and feel like you're getting good service from them.
Most babysitters won't work on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Years because they'll be spending time with their own family. So it's best to give them this time off. You don't necessarily need to give them vacation pay on top of time off, but it could be a nice extra gift.
If you do need your babysitter's help on holidays, you should plan to pay them at least 1.5x (time and a half) their regular rate.
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