Dear Swistle,(I just can't call you by your real name yet, I love you as Swistle :) ...I'm sorry!)I need help! Here is my dilemma... as you know and have chronicled many times we are coming up quickly on end of the year teacher gifts...but wait! I have a tricky, tricky situation and need your readers' help. My daughter is in school for the first time this year and has had a precious, perfect, we shall never see the likes of this again, teacher. The same teacher who left a few weeks ago to have her first baby and made us all cry our eyes out with undying love and affection. (My daughter actually sobbed on my lap in the parking lot!) So we gave her a gift (Body Shop) wrote the principal a raving letter about her and gave her a copy, and created homemade coupons to help babysit at any time (she had expressed an interest in this help). The end.
Now we have end of the year in four weeks and multiple quandaries.
- Her substitute teacher has been lovely and just so happens to be my neighbour. So no token gift will do.
- Her chaplain (sweet private school) has a husband who is dying and has gone above and beyond to still be with, and love, these kids and we want to show our thanks.
- Her librarian (also teaches them twice a week) is a great friend and has been so, so kind to both of my kids.
- The two office ladies have gone above and beyond because my daughter has food allergies and has needed some (alot!) extra office help.
- Then there is the Spanish teacher (a doll), the music teacher (my daughter loves her), the PE teacher and the lovely lunchroom ladies who have watched over her so she doesn't die from her severe food allergy.
- And the wonderful, wonderful principal who has guided us all the way through and will continue to now for my son and daughter next year.
- Thank God there is no bus driver...that would be me. (I only bus them, though, so no chance of regifting here.)My budget, however, as my husband is starting grad school next month and already is working more than one job, is only fifty dollars! (Which I should probably pay you for reading this and be done with it.) But - What do I do???The dollar store candles seem so tacky, the homemade cards so not enough... I could maybe go up to $75 for everyone and eat beans for a few nights :).Does anyone, do you think, have the powers to make me look as thankful as we are to that many people? Do you have any help? I'm sorry that this is such a hashed over question each year, but what would you do if you were me? To make matters worse I truly love gift giving, so this is a true expression of my heart and it has actually kept me up at night thinking.I feel so cliché.Thank you in advance.... Liana
This is SO TIMELY, Liana, because I was just thinking about teacher gifts this past week for a post I was working on over at Milk & Cookies. And so I am clear in my mind on this issue.
Here is the thing, the most important thing to keep in mind: teacher gifts were never intended to represent our actual level of gratitude. And thank goodness, right? I mean, how could we possibly thank them that much? We'd have to give them the ACTUAL CHILD.
Teacher gifts are meant to be TOKENS. Token is the very word. This does not change even if the teacher is THE LADY BEEZUS HERSELF, gracious and good and pure and kind.
And so how DO you represent your actual level of gratitude? That is the job of The Letter. You pour out your ever-loving heart. Don't worry about being too sappy: if you feel it, you say it. Don't worry about making it too long: if you appreciated it, write it down. The Token is merely a decoration for The Letter---a way of saying, "Here, let's make this a little prettier."
As for the tokens, you can pick what you think is best. I'd go with a $10 gift card to a local take-out or coffee place for the chaplain, a candy dish of Lindt truffles for the office ladies and principal all together, a $5 coffee gift card plus a plate of baked things for each of the other people.
Or, if you know some of the other parents, or have access to a way to send home letters with each child, one thing you could consider doing is managing a "pool our efforts" gift project. It is a ton of work, but it is one of the only ways a teacher gift can be something beyond a token. What you do is, you ask each family to pitch in the money they would have spent on a teacher gift. Then you get one big thing from all of you. A big gift card (maybe to somewhere like Target) is a great gift. If ten families each give $5-10, that's a nice $50-100 gift card right there. The problem, of course, is that not everyone will want to participate, and some people who SAY they want to participate won't come through, so it can be a hassle. But when it works, it's a great way to give a teacher a more significant present than usual.
If not, though, tokens are RIGHT. Put the gratitude into the letters.