Here’s What the Average Family Spends on Help During the Holiday


The holiday season also involves things like tipping and spending extra money on childcare during holiday parties and times mom and dad are away from home. The household assistant site care.com conducted a survey of families to determine what the average expenditures are, what people are tipping their nannies, babysitters and other home helpers and to generally gauge the temperature of the average American family’s spending habits during the holidays.

The 2016 Care.com holiday care cost survey determined that the average family spends $14.40 per hour on a babysitter; $17.45 on a dog sitter; $17.34 per hour on a cat sitter; $17.48 per hour on event or party help; $16.33 per hour on a personal shopper; $18.88 per hour on a house sitter and $14.98 per hour on a housekeeper.

The outcome of the survey, as compared to last year’s, reveals some other illuminating insights:

Holiday Budgeting

Nearly 1 in 3 people (32%) don’t budget for holiday expenses, and 48% of those who do say they go over budget. 80% of people who go over budget say they spend an extra $100 or more. Although 80% say they would use budget tactics to save money during the holidays, only 49% do so.

Holiday Gifting & Tipping

81% spend money on holiday tipping, compared to 69% in 2015, and approximately half (49%) spend $500 or more on holiday gifts. While 60% plan on spending the same amount on holiday tips in 2016, 24% plan to spend less or not tip at all and 17% plan on spending more this year. Of those who plan on spending more on holiday tips, 42% expect to spend $100 or more extra compared to last year.

Holiday Help

More than half of people (54%) wish they could hire help during the holiday season to make it easier, and 59% would be willing to do so if it meant they’d have less stress and more time. The top 3 types of help that people feel would make the holidays easier for a family are a housekeeper, babysitter, and errand runner/task master. To help save on costs, the top 3 budget tactics people would use to save money when hiring holiday help are cohosting a party to save money on entertaining, splitting the costs for a babysitter to watch the children, and splitting the costs for a housekeeper to clean up post-event.


Here are some suggestions the site offers families for managing holiday help:

When to Hire a Holiday Babysitter? The weekend two weeks before Christmas is the most common weekend of the year for parents to hire a babysitter in order to attend a party. That means Saturday, December 10 will be the night where babysitters will be most in-demand this holiday season. Holiday babysitting jobs are posted an average of 5 days in advance – two days longer than typical babysitting jobs – which means parents looking to attend festivities should start searching for a babysitter by December 4 at the latest.

How Much Are Families Paying for a Holiday Babysitter? Here’s where families can save a little money for gifts and entertaining. The cost of a holiday babysitter is actually less than the rest of the year. The national average hourly rate for a babysitter in December is $14.40 compared to $15.05 for other weekends. Parents living in San Jose, CA, New York, NY, and Portland, OR aren’t quite as lucky as they’re the top three most expensive cities to find a babysitter for a holiday party.

When to Book a New Year’s Eve Babysitter & How Much to Pay? “Our data shows that New Year’s Eve is the second most popular babysitting night after Valentine’s Day. With half of New Year’s Eve babysitting jobs posted within four days before the holiday, we recommend booking child care sooner than later to avoid scrambling for last-minute quality care,” said Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor of Care.com.

In 2015, the average hourly rate of a New Year’s Eve babysitter was $14.34, a 10% increase from 2014. Topping the most expensive metro for New Year’s Eve babysitters is Portland, OR, while 3 out of the top 10 metros were located in California (San Jose, San Francisco, and Los Angeles).


Pet Care 

When to Hire a Pet Sitter? During November and December, pet sitting jobs make up a larger share of pet care jobs than at any other time of the year. Throughout the year, the most popular day for pet sitting jobs to begin is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which will be November 23, 2016. 43% of Thanksgiving pet sitting jobs were posted more than three weeks before Thanksgiving and 13% were posted the week of Thanksgiving.

How Much Are Families Paying for Holiday Pet Care? From taking care of toilet-trained cats to brushing an Australian Shephard before bedtime, families are willing to pay top dollar for pet care. Thanksgiving pet sitting jobs for dogs and cats had the highest hourly rates at $17.45 and $17.34. Beyond dogs and cats, families looking for people to take care of their fish pay an average of $17.09 per hour, and the rate for taking care of birds was $16.54. Although pet sitting jobs are temporary, lasting an average of 4 days, they pay 10% more than dog walking jobs ($18.10 compared to $16.43). During the holidays, Thanksgiving pet sitting jobs last an average of 4 days, while in December, pet sitting jobs last an average of 6 days.

Do Dogs Have New Year’s Resolutions? Either pet parents are extending their health resolutions to their four-legged family members or they’re avoiding the outdoors in January. In 2015, the most popular day for dog walking jobs to start was the first Monday of the New Year. January is the top month for pet care jobs that involve walking, play and exercise, with 56% asking for play and exercise, compared to 51% for the rest of the year. In addition, Care.com found that for every 4 degrees further north in latitude, dog owners can expect to get 3 fewer applicants on average.

About the Care.com 2016 Holiday Data

Care.com data, such as hourly rates and advance booking averages, are based on 2015 member behavior on the site. The Care.com 2016 Cost of Holidays Survey captured responses, which were recruited from Care.com, from nearly 1,200 people in the United States during the months of September and October 2016.

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