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Paying the Holiday Sitter

Should you pay a sitter more for working on a holiday?

Finding a sitter is a tricky business any time of year. How much should you pay them? How far in advance should you book them? What should they be expected to do? During the busy holiday season, it can be downright confusing. We”ve checked with experts to solve some of your biggest holiday sitter dilemmas.

Should you pay a sitter more for working on a holiday?

The norm is to offer 1.5-2x their hourly rate if you’re asking them to work on a holiday. If you’re just getting a sitter for a holiday party in December, you don’t need to pay them more per hour, but plan on booking them well in advance. If it’s a regular sitter, you should give them a holiday bonus or tip. —Kristen Stiles, co-founder and CEO of Sitter (

If you’re hosting a holiday party and have a sitter at the house, should each family pitch in or should you pay for the sitter yourself?

As a gracious host who includes children in an “adult environment” where a professional on-site sitter is required, proper protocol would suggest the host cover any costs. This information should be provided at the time of invitation with a note stating, “On-site childcare will be provided. Please let us know if we can expect your children to attend with you.” —Jacquelyn Flesner, founder of The Etiquette Network

If you do ask guests to pitch in, how should you approach that when inviting people?

If a more casual get-together is transpiring where multiple friends or neighbors are planning the event together, then a discussion of sharing costs of childcare should occur in those early planning conversations. It’s always a good idea to host the festivities at one home while the childcare base is at another home next door or nearby. —Jacquelyn Flesner, founder of The Etiquette Network

How much do you add on to your sitter’s rate when there are extra kids staying with you? (If you’re going out with another couple or have relatives in town, for instance.)

A sitter’s hourly wage depends largely on three things: their level of experience, the going rate where they”ll be babysitting, and the number of kids they”ll be watching. It’s only fair that your sitter will expect to be paid extra when asked to care for more children than they normally do. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra dollar for each additional child. —Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor of

How can I keep babysitting costs down, while still enjoying holiday gatherings or shopping?

Many daycare centers, recreation centers, gymnastics centers, and other locations offer “parents night out” events on select Fridays and Saturdays, especially during the holidays. Check locations near your home. —Lydia Rueger, north calendar editor for Colorado Parent

What’s the going hourly rate for a sitter around Denver?

$13, according to

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