By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
teacher"So...teacher gifts," began my sister's Facebook status, echoing dozens of other anguished statuses over the past week or so. School is winding up for the year, which means it's time for the annual end-of-class parties, yearbook signings, and existential angst over what to give your child's teacher to properly demonstrate your undying appreciation for their selfless service that will also not break the bank. After talking to my mommy friends, I've discovered that nobody really knows how to do that-not even the mommy organizing the class gift.
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On one hand, our kids' teachers almost spend more time with them than we do, and their dedication and influence can't be overstated. On the other hand; however, there's a huge gray area between the apple kids used to give her (or him) and the BMW she probably deserves. The first problem is that there are no formal guidelines for this sort of thing. In corporate culture, gift giving is highly regulated; but when it comes to a third grade teacher, how are we supposed to know what's appropriate? We can't just calculate twenty percent of the bill and add it to our tab.
The second issue is that it can be hard to decide what exactly constitutes a teacher. My kindergartner has a main teacher, a parapro that's also in the classroom daily, a speech therapist, and a special ed teacher. There's also music, art and guidance teachers. Do they all get a gift? And then there's the whole competition/guilt aspect. In every classroom there will be the mom who hand-makes an edible fruit bouquet and wraps each stem with a $20 bill. Your kid's handmade (but heartfelt!) card looks pretty shabby compared to that.
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So many questions! Do moms that volunteered a lot in the classroom during the year get a pass on the gift giving? Is cash gauche? Are gift cards? And if you want to add something a little personal, how do you know what candle scent or type of chocolate she likes? I recently spent an hour in the store working myself into a frenzy trying to figure out who we needed thank-you gifts for, what to get them, how much to spend, how to deliver them (kids cannot be trusted with a box of chocolates on the bus) and how to get my kids to write that heartfelt card. I'm probably overthinking this. In the end, it made me feel anything but thankful-and that's a shame.
Help another mom out: What do you do for teacher gifts? To which teachers do you give gifts?
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