Teachers Gifts: Offering To Organize The Class Present Was A Bad Idea
The end of the school year is fast approaching and with it talks of gifts. Not â€œDo you or donâ€™t you?â€ but rather “Whoâ€™s in for the group gift?”
As nice as it is to receive a trinket, token or Starbucks card, itâ€™s even better to receive a big whopper of a gift card. And thatâ€™s what happens when the parents in a class pool their money together. Sounds simple, right? It should be, but rarely is.
First issue is who exactly will buy this wonderful gift card. I know at my sonsâ€™ schools, there are plenty of moms who work freelance, at home, or not at all. They seem to have no trouble hitting up our local mall â€“ until gifting season arrives (then they’re suddenly much too busy).Â Then there are the â€œofficialâ€ class reps â€“ aka the class parent. Technically, gift-giving is not part of their job description yet, at our school, itâ€™s become de riguer for them to organize â€“ and purchase â€“ the gifts.
With that in mind, one would think the other parents would be grateful they donâ€™t have the responsibility of doing anything other than handing over some cash for a group gift. Hell no. The amount is always a testy topic. For some, $15 is $5 too much. For others, they wouldnâ€™t dream of spending less than $50. Personally, I think somewhere between $15-20 is adequate, especially if you have a lot of children, who have several teachers each. I know one class thatâ€™s giving two presents: one from the self-proclaimed big spenders, and one from the realists. Once the amount is finally agreed upon, the real work begins: collecting the cash.
In recent years I have issued an email stating a group gift will be purchased. Anyone can opt in or out. At one of my sonsâ€™ schools, some participated, some declined completely and some were in for the assistant, but not for the teacher. I donâ€™t understand exactly how these decisions are made and, frankly, I donâ€™t care. But if someone else is doing all the work, I donâ€™t see why it should be so difficult to pay up.
As a mother, Iâ€™m used to being an unpaid chauffeur, cleaner, cook and caretaker. But collection agent? I donâ€™t think so. People go AWOL. They donâ€™t respond to emails. On one occasion I paid for the gift card upfront and still have yet to see the contribution from one errant parent. Of course by the time school resumed in the fall, I was too tense to acknowledge the debt, but every time I bump into that person, I wonder if sheâ€™s thinking what Iâ€™m thinking: that she owes me $30!
Now Iâ€™ve wised up. I set a deadline. Whoever misses it without an acknowledgement that they want in, is out. And whatever money collected post-deadline is donated to the school library. This way, everybody wins: I donâ€™t supplement the gift, the teacher gets a lovely shopping spree and the school benefits from the inevitable late donors.
Sure, there are some that go above and beyond and buy a little something extra. Sometimes as an extra thank you and sometimes, I suspect, to sweeten the pot, which by yearâ€™s end seems pointless to me. By mid-June Iâ€™m like my kids: I just want school to be over. Bring on the summer. Enjoy your group gift. And next year, please let somebody else do the organizing.
(Photo: urfin/Shutterstock )