Tightening the Belt
Giving Holiday Gifts on a Budget
By Janice St.Clair, Nanny, Boston Area Nanny Support Group
How should nannies choose a gift for their employers without breaking their budget? Many nannies give their employers a homemade gift certificate (or set of certificates) good for one evening (or overnight) free babysitting. Anything handmade (knitted mittens for instance) or home baked is also appreciated.
A good way to reduce the scramble to produce many gifts in a short time is to make certificates promising gifts for the future, such as a dozen homemade cookies per month for a year, or a joint trip to the yarn shop and a handmade scarf of the recipient's color choice.
Many nannies create child-centered gifts, such as photo albums or calendars from pictures they have taken of the children, or a casting of a child's hand print or footprint as a garden decoration using a kit from a hardware store.
It is completely appropriate to give a gift to the entire family rather than individual gifts. Some examples include: a family board game, or a hand-assembled basket containing a family DVD and hot chocolate mix and microwave popcorn.
Alternative gift ideas that you can easily put together from Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE) include shoe box gifts. Shoe box gifts are collections of small, familiar items that are organized around a play theme and presented in an appealing way. They also show that expensive toys in fancy packages are not necessarily the best. See examples in this issue and consult the TRUCE Toy Guide (below) for other suggestions.
You can give a lovely and thoughtful gift that shows you care, without getting caught up in the spending frenzy that has increasingly characterized this holiday season. Your example may help the family you work for to make more financially responsible and emotionally healthy choices in upcoming years too.
We owe it to ourselves and also to the families we work for to remain calm during the increasingly demanding December holiday season. There is a lot of pressure on everyone to do and to buy more than possible or affordable. Try to balance social events with adequate rest and healthy eating. Set a reasonable budget for gifts, and be creative in order to stick to it. If old traditions are driving you and your loved ones nuts, create new ones together that connect you and restore you. If you are overwhelmed with obligations, pass on some of them. For instance, send holiday cards after the holiday, decline some gatherings with a promise to get together after the holidays, and decorate simply -- even if you have lavish decorations.
‘Tis the season for people of all beliefs to come together and celebrate life, love, friends, family, and spirituality. This should really be a restorative, rather than a draining holiday season. Let's make it so!
Janice St.Clair has been a career live-out nanny since 1991. She is the founder and on-going facilitator of the nine-year-old Boston Area Nanny Support Group (BANSG) and a founding member of the National Association for Nanny Care (NANC).
NANNIES CAN SHARE YOUR GIFT IDEAS IN COMMENTS BELOW!
Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE). TRUCE, PO Box 441261, West Somerville, MA 02144 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.truceteachers.org/