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Did you get your child's teachers and care providers gifts?

As today is the last day of PPS school before break, as usual, I stayed up late last night working on gifts. And... became mightily distracted by one thing, then another, and never really got around to finishing them. So I'll be scrambling for the next three hours to figure out, what? I have two teachers -- one first grade teacher whose outside-of-school interests are a mystery to me (I think she works 12 or 14 hours a day, so maybe there aren't many), and one early intervention specialist whose interests I think I have more of a handle on, but still -- and lots of stuff that's close to being a gift. But oh! I haven't decided.

This means my children's teachers will get jars of jam for holiday gifts. And I think I'm bringing the sweet school librarian some chocolate.

We've talked about gifts a lot in the past (and had a little interesting sidebar in our post about Halloween costumes; some parents feel, evidently, that the expectation of teacher holiday gifts creates more discomfort, even embarrassment, and shines a glaring light on cultural differences, than any costumery), and I know I have a lot of ideas. But I'm wondering: which came to fruition for you this year?


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I have a high-schooler; no teacher gifts here. We are going in with another family to get our girls' HS swim coach a gift certificate of some sort. In all my years in participating in school and outside-of-school athletics, and as the parent of an athlete, I have never, ever seen a more dedicated coach. She deserves more than we could ever give her.

I really, really can't stand the obligatory teacher gifts. Unless someone was taking up a collection for a group gift for a teacher, the only individual gifts we've ever given were Powell's gift certificates. That's something they can use for the class or for themselves.

Since it's my daughter's first year of middle school and I don't particularly like her "CORE" (3 periods a day) teacher, like Sheryl, no gifts here. I'll also agree, I don't love the idea of "having to give gifts".

In the past, it's depended on the teacher, our finances and sometimes whether or not we had a (by some circumstances) little gift at hand. We were happy to gift in 4th and 5th grade, because the teacher was awesome and dedicated. In other cases, one got the sense of "we'd better".

Over time, we've departed from the teacher apple paper weights and tried to move towards more individualized gifts. As always, that's easiest when you know the person went to U of O, likes Disney's Snow White, etc. In some cases, though my best received gifts (a teapot/teacup combo that was part of an ebay lot brought the recipient to tears) were extras I'd somehow acquired.

I'll add that there is something to how archaic giving bits of useless, commerical crap from stores like Target really is. Especially when one's been made to feel like it's a requirement. And since few, if any of us in other industries receive such items--and (as noted above) not all families can afford this.

Lastly, though there are no gifts for teachers, I will be tipping my mail carrier (as I always do when we can afford it). I get a lot of packages and he's quite the cool guy!

I always give a present to the daycare teachers for many reasons, including their dedication and that they are unfortunatelly grossly underpaid.
My children are not at school yet, but I am leaning towards no gifts for public school teachers. Again, there are many reasons though I am sure they will be as dedicated as our current daycare teachers. But, they are not really underpaid, they don't work as many days out of the year as the daycare teachers (and I appreciate that daycare is "always" open) and finally, if halloween is not appropriate to be observed at pps schools, why would christmas gifts be appropriate?

Conversation this morning, literally as I was getting my shoes on to go to work.
Husband: "Sooo, did you make anything for the teachers?"
Me: "What? No..." (Dawning realization that today is the last day before break) "Did you?"
Husband: "What? No...So...?"
Me: "There's always an end-of-the-year present."

I do like the teachers, and had I remembered, I probably would have made them a little something. But, honestly, things have been beyond hectic lately and financially tight, so the teachers just didn't make the short list of "Things I need to deal with before Christmas." (Sorry teachers, I do appreciate what you do, but I haven't even sent my great-grandma a card yet.)

Since xmas is not my holiday... I didn't see the need. I don't buy them, and I really resent being asked to "chip in" for an expensive class gift from the whole class.

Wow! I am surprised at these responses. We give small gifts - two of our three teachers received Powells gift cards, and one received a peets gift card. I am shocked at the person who said PPS teachers aren't underpaid. Spend a few hours in your child's classroom one day and you are bound to notice that they most certainly are underpaid!

Obviously, it's not mandatory, but I do think it's nice to show appreciation for their hard work.

My six year old daughter decorated inexpensive gloves for all five of her teachers and they were a hit. She loves them like they are family members, so we give them small gifts throughout the year as she is interested (which is all the time). My son was not into making gifts for his teachers, so we gave them jars of pistachios to add to their group gift baskets. Modeling gratitude is super important to me, so the small teacher gifts fit in to our larger picture of having good manners, thinking of other peoples feelings, etc.

My son's teacher this year is wonderful so I was chagrined when I realized after getting to work today that this is my son's last day of school before the break and I'd done nothing for his teacher. If she wasn't so great, I wouldn't think twice about it, but she is great and I dropped the ball. So I will probably give her something when school resumes.

As a preschool teacher, I can say that I never expect gifts, but it's always a wonderful surprise to get a little note or gift from families. It makes us feel so appreciated. Most of the time, we receive little homemade goodies or gift cards, but I would hold the pricey gift card to the spa in the same esteem as the hand made card and hug from a kid. It really is the thought that counts!

I feel that an end of year gift for the teacher is appropriate, to thank them for all the work and support they have given my child, but I don't participate in holiday gift giving for many reasons. One is that I can barely afford gifts for my own child, who is basically the only one who gets gifts from me. Another is that it is unclear who gets gifts and who does not. I saw kids today giving gifts to the school secretary and principal. Do we stop there, or do we also give to the librarian, the SMART volunteers, parent volunteers, and cafeteria workers? How about the primary care doctor who cares for your child when sick, or the pediatric dentist? I also don't like the idea of a class gift, because as the OP stated, there are many cultures, and not all of them adhere to a gift giving holiday in the winter. The last reason is due to my Social Work ethics. I am not allowed to accept gifts from my clients, except maybe something very small or a homemade cookie or something, but I provide a great deal of care to many clients, and their family members are sometimes very grateful. I do not expect or even want gifts from these people. The best thank you I can get is seeing an improvement in the life of a client, and hearing the words, "thank you," which are words that can be uttered any time of the year, not only during the holiday season. I like that we can all accept each other's beliefs and opinions about these matters and other value differences we might all have.

We do a powells gift card and a handmade card. My child enjoys giving the gift and expressing his appreciation for his teacher and was very excited to work on the card. He loves going to Powells and so likes to give gift cards from there.

i feel that to each his own. i don't think anyone should feel obligated to buy a gift for a teacher for doing his or her job. if one feels a special connection to the teacher and/or thinks of them almost as a friend, that's great. while i do believe teachers are underpaid, they are still just doing their job, and that's the career they've chosen. that being said, it's great if someone wants to buy a teacher a gift "just because", however, they should make sure not to judge others who are not inclined to do so, or who choose not to participate in contributing to a gift.

Some years, we've given a powell's card. Some years, we've not done anything. Today, when I realized that it was THE DAY, I decided to do a New Year's thank you gift instead. I have something small for the teachers, but forgot to have my kid write the cards! There just wasn't time in the mad rush to get out the door today.

Personally, I'm not a big gifter in general, so I have to work pretty hard to think it all through in time!

I don't feel obligated at all and don't even mind declining to participate in a group gift. I figure that with a class of 28 kinds, my daughters teachers won't really be able to track who does give and who does not.

I find the rituals/rules around office gifting much more perplexing...

Whew! so glad i'm not the only momma who realized this at 8 pm last night, which was too late to get a Powells gift card (my preferred). Plus, kidlet has two kindergarten teachers (immersion program).
Ended up at Trader Joes for just a token gift for each. I plan to do something more at the end of the year but this just snuck up on me (and we too don't celebrate Xmas).

Wow, I also am surprised by those above who are against gifts for teachers. I can't imagine not thanking my children's teachers and wishing them happy holidays. These teachers care for my children most of the day and are huge role models in their lives, and I know they work their behinds off. We tend to give a gift card and write a thankful note.

I am a high school teacher and very rarely receive gifts or thank you cards myself. While I don't expect gifts of course, I'll admit that notes of thanks or appreciation are very nice, at any time of year, especially from students with whom I spend a lot of time tutoring or writing college recommendations, etc. Although teachers are just doing their job and they've chosen a job that doesn't pay a lot, the teachers I know dedicate a TON of time and energy to their students, at home as well as in the classroom. Can't think of any other professionals with whom children have that kind of close daily relationship.

Teachers are underpaid, and lots of times spend their own money for supplies that they need for their classroom. We gave each of our daughters teacher a gift certificate to The Learning Palace. The both loved it. Its a win-win, the classroom gets supplies for the kids without the teacher spending their own money AND Learning Palace is a locally owned company!

As I said earlier, it's ok to give a thank you with words instead of hard earned money. Lots of us have jobs that are underpaid, and working with vulnerable populations. A card (not one with a pre-printed message of thanks, but one hand written or typed by the giver) or even a nice email would do. Keep it simple and real. I would rather hand someone a hot cup of cocoa when they are stressed out or cold than to give them a gift card to Starbucks.

Wow it's really never occurred to me to do gifts, until now had no ideas others did so... never saw it being done in day care or preschool. Now in first grade, there was a donation taken for a class gift. We gave $5 and they got each teacher one gift certificate which seemed about right.

Would never ever tip or gift the mailman even tho I have a good one- too odd to me!

Sottie, trust me, mail carriers appreciate it. Coming from NYC (where you tip everyone), I was in the habit of doing so---but knew that people simply didn't tip here like they do there. So I asked my husband's co-worker whose husband had been a letter carrier. She emphatically confirmed that a tip would be very much appreciated.

We did so and received such a heartfelt thank you from our former mailman. Now we have a new one, but I really like him, so I definitely want to make sure he knows how much we appreciate him.

A teacher, I seem to recall that you supported the costume ban because it was sensitive to lower income families and (among other minority and religious groups) Jehovah's Witnesses----wouldn't "holiday" (let's get real, Christmas) gifts fall into both those categories, as well? I agree with aj, if Halloween costumes (which can be made for free) are indicative of cultural and economic disparity, aren't gifts, then too?

I am a teacher, not in pps. Each year I receive a few presents. This year however my class has given me a ton of gifts. Almost all of them were things that the students made themselves ( a painted rock, a picture, a card), something that they already owned and wanted me to have (a stuffed animal or ornament), or a small inexpensive item. I was blown away by their generosity. Many of them were recipients of a thanksgiving basket of food from a local church or part of the families receiving gifts from the giving tree. They truly do not have all the things they need to survive each day but they wanted to be generous and kind. Two things we have worked hard at as a community at school.

I also give a gift to my students every year. It is always a book and depending on finances a little something else. We have an end of the year celebration and I always hand out the books, then remind students to read over vacation. I don't care whether or not my class gives me a gift, but this year it was special because we have had to work so hard at learning to be a caring community. After all we spend 30 hours a week together!

I think of it as a teaching moment for my kiddos to show appreciation. We give anyone a card (teachers, lunch lady, school secretary, bus driver). We make cookies and when we can we give a little something to those who we really want to thank. Yesterday my middle schooler was bundling up cookies and a homemade note to each of her teachers without any prompting from me. I also have a special needs child and while I can never truly thank those who help him as I would like I do what I can.

Sarah, I love the fact that you give gifts to the kids. We all learn so much from them, they are the best teachers.

My daughter is 6 months old and is in daycare during the week so this is the first Christmas we are having to figure this out. My husband thinks it's a little silly to give gifts when we are paying for her care but I think it's appropriate. After all they are a big part of our child's life. So we are doing some baked goods and a card to let them know how valued they are. I would love to give them spa gift certificates but it's just not in our budget!

Our daughter is in an in-home daycare that is amazing. We give a Christmas bonus equivalent to one week of childcare. I was concerned that it wasn't enough, but from reading other postings, it sounds pretty good.

We gave gifts (namely small denomination gift cards) to our son's Kindergarten teacher, the teacher's aide, the school secretary, three of the after care people who in our case are from the Y ("Y-Care"), and the three custodians of our elementary school. The majority of this list are relatively low earning people (compared to our income, I think) whose jobs are relatively difficult. This principle doesn't apply to my son's teacher as directly, but much of the rest of the list: My father emphasized when we were growing up that you tip well "in places like Denny's" and that you always leave your hotel housecleaners tips, etc. Basically, tip the working poor well. It is a direct route to helping people with low incomes. They are working hard and, given the inequality in our country, no doubt should be making more than their formal pay.

Our son is in a fantastic nursery school part-time and we write a homemade card to each teacher, "decorated" by my son, and then give cash, usually around $80 each. Yes, we pay for the care, but his teachers make so little and are so great, that they totally deserve it. We've been doing this since he's been 6 months old. They really appreciate it, and no one ever thinks, "Cash--now what am I going to do with this?!"

Zumpie, I didn't support any costume ban; I don't work in PPS (and I doubt all PPS teachers agree with it). I don't expect gifts and I don't know any teacher who does; of course many families cannot afford gifts. Even if they could afford it, gifts are never required or expected! A nice thank you note, though, doesn't require any ressources. For me personally, I feel like my kids' teachers work really hard and provide my children lots of loving care, and I would not feel right not acknowledging that.

A teacher, my mistake, then. There WAS a teacher who did support the costume ban during that heated debate. My apologies for my confusion.

My kids are still young, 4 and 7 and we have historically done something small but by no means extravagant. Last year my son was in Kinder and the group of parents and kids were very tightly knit and organized. There were several collections throughout the year for teacher gifts--birthdays, Christmas, end of year. I participated in some (when I had cash on hand and remembered!) and not others. It took the pressure off me to think of something that was thoughtful and useful to give. Like many other posters, I don't feel comfortable giving a gift just for the sake of doing so, or out of obligation but if I see something or know of something that would be appreciated, I'm happy to give.

At the end of the year, I did something I've never done before--I sat down and wrote each teacher a letter. I pointed out the growth that we saw in our boys academically and socially throughout the year and thanked them for creating an environment for learning and fun in their classrooms. I cc'd the Directors of both schools on each note and delivered them in the last days of school. Both teachers called me in tears and told me it was the nicest thing a parent could ever do for them. It was an exceptional year for both of my boys, and luckily, I feel as though we're on track for a similar experience this year--both boys love going to school and adore their teachers. I'm committed to writing personal, thoughtful letters to every teacher that makes a difference in my child's life from here on out. Underpaid or not, (I happen to believe that most teachers are grossly underpaid but that's another discussion) everyone likes a heartfelt compliment, right?

I gave a batch of homemade cookies to my son's daycare providers (3 teachers) to share while at work, and each one got a holiday card I wrote an individualized note in and a $10 gift card to Starbucks. It was really all I could afford, but I really thought it was important to show how much I appreciate them. My son is 6 months old and in daycare 3 days a week while I teach high school. That being said, I don't often get anything from my students and I never expect anything. Every once in a while a student will bring me a cookie or a card. It's very nice to be appreciated.

This year we gave handmade cards to the kids' wonderful teachers and the school administrative assistant who does SO much. We can't give more than that. The holidays are stressful enough with the expectation of gifts for family members, co-workers, etc that we can't live up to. We live paycheck to paycheck and Christmas doesn't change that.

I gave my daughter's teacher a card and a gift card to Starbucks. Next year I'll probably try chocolate because come to think of it, a gift card is a bit impersonal.

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