An appreciation for quality childcare is shared by every parent, and its significance has been highlighted more than usual in the past few years. Around this time of year, many families are looking to say an extra “thank you” to the ones who keep their kiddos safe and well cared for. In addition to being standard practice in the industry, an end of year bonus for your nanny is more than just cash; it’s a symbol of your appreciation for the crucial role they play in your family. While a bonus is certainly not a substitute for an annual review, it’s a way to validate their performance and show just how grateful you are to have them around, doing the work they do for your family.

So, what should a bonus for your nanny look like? Let’s break it down: the industry-standard holiday bonus for a full-time nanny is the equivalent to two weeks’ pay. Families with fairly new nannies usually calculate about one full day of pay per month that the nanny has worked so far and offer that as a bonus. For a nanny who has been with your family for over a year, one full week’s pay is a good guideline. And for nannies who have been employed by you for three years or longer, it’s customary to give at least two weeks’ pay, or more if you see fit. Some families give a full month’s pay to longer term nannies. Also remember, the bonus is considered taxable income and should be reported as such.

In addition to how long a nanny has worked for you, the size of their bonus can also depend on their performance. When possible, exceptional care should yield a higher bonus. The final factor to consider is, of course, what you can reasonably afford. Since holiday bonuses are standard, consider planning ahead if needed.

Along with the holiday bonus, a thoughtful handmade card or gift from the children goes a very long way. This could be anything, from a simple DIY craft the children put together, to flowers, to a box of cookies or cupcakes from a favorite bakery. The point is simply to show that the entire family appreciates the nanny and that they have earned a special place in your children’s life. It truly is the thought that counts.

In lieu of a cash bonus, some families prefer to other significant perks. They may opt to give the nanny airfare home for the holidays, a getaway, or a coveted gadget, like an iPad or smart watch. Some families may even choose to contribute a lump sum to a nanny’s retirement fund. Ultimately, the holiday bonus is about how you, as an employer, would like to show your appreciation. What you choose to give is up to you, and the bonus will, of course, depend on your means.

If a generous holiday bonus truly is not in the cards for you financially, there are some alternatives you can offer. A gift card for a massage or a day at a local spa will likely end up costing less than a bonus but is still a meaningful way to encourage a nanny to treat themself. You could also get a gift card to a favorite restaurant or tickets to a concert or special event. You might also consider giving the nanny additional paid vacation time throughout the next year or more time off for the holidays.

Even though the parent-nanny relationship is professional, it’s also personal. This is someone who shares an important bond with your children, fosters their growth and development, and whom you’re able to rely on every single day, no matter what. When considering the holiday bonus, think carefully about what your nanny’s performance has meant in your life and in the lives of your family, and consider whatever kind of bonus you choose as the best possible way to say thank you for a job well done.