Holiday Bonus or Bust?

Jenna and Pete absolutely love their kids after school babysitter Cristina.  Last year for a holiday gift, the couple gave Cristina a $250 bonus plus a mani-pedi at posh salon around the corner from their house to show their appreciation.

The problem is, after some unexpected medical expenses last month, cash is quite tight for Jenna and Pete this holiday season.  They desperately want to show Cristina how important she is to their family, but a $250 bonus – plus a $50 gift certificate- is simply out of their budget this year.

A few moms have told Jenna that she set an expectation last year, and by not giving Cristina the same amount of cash, she will be sending a message that she doesn’t value her as she once did (even if Jenna explains that cash is tight).  Others insist if Jenna is honest with Cristina, they are sure she will understand.

Although money is an issue at the moment, Jenna can’t afford to lose Cristina right now, and doesn’t want her to fear that her job is in jeopardy – driving her to start looking elsewhere.  Should Jenna find a way to match Cristina’s gift from last year, or should she risk it and tell Cristina the truth?

Tell us what you think!

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7 Responses to “Holiday Bonus or Bust?”

  1. Susan says:

    I don’t like the recipient to know how much I spend on their gift. It’s like how I always remove the price tags from a gift before I wrap it. Maybe instead of a cash bonus (where the amount is transparent), Jenna should consider other gifts that don’t have an obvious $ amount attached. For instance, a nice cashmere scarf purchased on sale makes a luxurious gift but doesn’t have to cost a lot. Or if she wants to do a gift card, maybe Jenna could cash in some credit card rewards for an iTunes or other gift card. (Another way to get gift cards for less than face value is through sites like CardPool or

  2. Molly says:

    I disagree with Susan to buy a gift that has no price tag. I think that’s best for friends, relatives and co-workers, (ie, people you’re buying personal gifts for) or even your hairstylist that you pay a fortune to and then tip all year long. However, people that service your needs and are generally low paid – such as babysitters, porters, delivery people – generally need the money and don’t want a “luxury” gift that you got on sale.

    I think the best option is honesty – that unexpected bills prevent her from being as generous to Cristina as she would like, but in no way reflects how much she values her.
    I like Susan’s idea of cashing in airline or reward miles IF they can be used at a store that sells a lot of different items such as Target or a department store. I doubt the babysitter wants an iTunes card instead of cash.

  3. Sue Kiene says:

    I can see both sides of what the other responses have been and agree that it makes it more difficult when the person know the dollar amount. I also agree with Molly that I think that being honest is the best thing to be. And to do what does not place a burden today. And she can always come later with an unexpected addition later. When the babysitter takes care of children long term they also form an attachment to the child and will probably feel that they would not want the child or children to not have as much of a xmas. But they would need to know the truth to feels that way. I do however wish that people would quit making Xmas about gifts. That is not what it is about.

  4. louie says:

    Bonuses are always tied into performance, profit and economic times. Yes, a cash bonus was previously given and probably is now expected, but economic conditions now don’t call for an afforded same amount as last year, although performance was still there.
    Honesty is always the best policy, but I think in this critical position, every effort should be made to give this lady at least the same $250 as last year and forgoing the pedi? is ok, ditch it. You don’t want to lose this person and I’d forgo giving each other gifts to take care of this critical care giver, whom you can’t afford to lose. Merry Xmas.

  5. Molly says:

    I agree with Louie, and was going to mention this in my post. The person that takes care of your child is one of the most important people in your family’s life. Skip the pedi gift certificate, but try to give the babysitter as good of a bonus as last year.

  6. Sue Kiene says:

    So both of you think that her continued caring for the children is and should be totally tied to money. I would not think that sends a good message as to the type of person you choose to technically “help raise your children”. Yes you do truly appreciate her but no different than any other employee etc. They are aware that things are differenttoday than a year ago and if getting that $250 is the only thing that keeps this caregiver taking care of your kids then I think you appreciate and respect her more than she does you.

  7. I do think it’s important to let the sitter know that things have changed. Yet, I would still make an effort to let her know that she’s appreciated in another way–possibly get her something that you know she can use. For example, if she likes to play the piano–get her some sheet music. Anything that shows you care would be a great “extra” for the holidays : )

Any Thoughts?