Q&A: End-of-year gifts for teachers, daycare providers, et al.

This is another one we talk about every year. Last year I made the mistake of rolling it in with a discussion about Santa, so when you read last year's post you'll have to wade through lots of (interesting, but off-topic) Santa-talk.

The stand-out comment from last year's thread was when a teacher said:

One parent actually said to me "Youtaught my daughter to love reading…..I'm not buying you f-ing soap."
and she handed me a wad of money totaling $100.

Then we talked a lot about this idea that cash is somehow tacky, which led to the idea that women (which the majority of teachers and daycare providers are) are traditionally supposed to be "above" cash. And that things we wouldn't hesitate to give cash to men for we give soaps and candles to women for. That's just not right. Women have bills to pay, too.

So I'm going to vote that we stop with the cutesy gifts for women, and go to cash *or* things that really are just symbolic. I can't imagine that a teacher is going to feel bad that you can't afford a cash gift if your child makes a handmade card for the teacher.

Homebaked goods could go either way. Nut allergies? Chocolate aversion? A desire not to overeat? All these things could make homebaked treats not the loving act you intend them to be.

As I'm typing this I think I may be sounding a little like a Scrooge. But I'm think of all the really hardworking moms (many of them) who are teaching our kids to read and use the potty, and what the difference would be for them to be handed money at the end of the year or to go home with scented candles. Only one of those buys new shoes for their kids.

So, can we talk about amounts? Give the situation (daycare, preschool, or elementary school, public or private, how many teachers, where you live, etc.) and what the standard is there.

Also, anyone know what to give NYC bus drivers?? We have a different one in the morning and afternoon, and the morning guy has really gone out of his way to be awesome in several dimensions.

160 thoughts on “Q&A: End-of-year gifts for teachers, daycare providers, et al.”

  1. I struggle with this every year, too (and my oldest is only 4, yikes). But I think last year I found a good formula for not feeling tacky or dismissive of my provider’s hard work. I gave a gift card to Target (where I know she’s shops quite often), a personal gift for her (favorite brand of tea) and a gift for her son.This year I’m still doing the gift card, but instead of tea, I’m giving a Philosophy Grace gift set (because a woman who watches toddlers and babies all day NEEDS some Grace).
    I try to make it all work out to equal 1/2 a week’s pay. But I also have really tried to slip in bonuses at other times of the year (so far, I have paid her for all of her vacation time, even though it’s not in the contract…but I’ve been able to afford it, and frankly, she deserves paid vacation).
    But I also use her teenage daughter for babysitting occasionally. Do I also get her a gift?

  2. South Chicago suburbs, 1 child (age 21 months) in family daycare situation run by single mother of 6. This woman has bent over backwards for every single kid who goes to her daycare, including doing pickup/dropoff at our home on the days I worked from home.Here’s the thing. She only charges $3/hour, which I think is way less than she’s worth. Because of this, I try to give her gifts (monetary, gift card, edible) for each holiday and sometimes just randomly.
    I am going to bake some cookies and then attach a card with a $100 bill in it. I mulled over the whole tackiness issue awhile back, and then I figured, who wouldn’t want money?

  3. Denver suburbsMy son (2.5) goes to a Montessori daycare/preschool. Despite the fairly hefty tuition, I don’t think a lot of the staff gets paid that well as many of them have 2nd jobs. Which kind of breaks my heart. However, he has 3 teachers this year ( 1 primary teacher and 2 assistants). Last year he had two teachers and I got both of them a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant chain so they could take their families out to dinner. This year, I am leaning towards Target gift cards for the 2 assistant teachers and a bookstore gift certificate for his primary teacher (she loves reading). Probably in the $25 range. Which adds up to quite a bit but we can afford it and I think they very much deserve it.
    I saw a lot of lotions, soaps, etc last year. No one really commented on my gift one way or the other so I’m guessing it was in the range of acceptable.
    Another thing that I did last year and will do again this year is write each teacher a hand-written thank you note thanking them for taking such good care of my child and making learning such a fun experience for him. The gifts are nice but I think the teachers like to be appreciated as well.

  4. When we shared an in-home nanny, the families got together to make up 1 week’s pay in cash (contributions in proportion to our share of the share).For day care and school teachers, we have given Target gift cards, which can be used for groceries if they feel like it – I worry a little about school policies for accepting cash. Amounts have varied depending on our finances and the number of teachers in a room – generally $50-$60 for each kid. Our current K teacher is a newlywed with a husband in grad school, first year teacher at a Title 1 school – I think she is getting $100 this year. Which is more than I am spending on my mother and siblings.

  5. Our preschool put out a wish list for classroom items and/or requests for donations to the school (it’s a non-profit org). While I think this is an awesome idea I still wanted to give her teachers something for themselves as they work their butts off for our kids. The wish list said specifically “instead of” teacher gifts so I want to respect their wishes but still…To add, I’m all about the gits cards (Target! Bookstores!) but don’t find cash tacky at all.

  6. NYC suburb, 1 child (age 2 years, 8 months) in a large family daycare run by a husband & wife.After reading the comments about this last year, I went with a combination of American Express gift cards and store cards. The daycare has about 20 kids, so they have 4 or 5 employees, besides the owners. I gave the Amex cards to the two “older” women (by older, I mean, not 20 years old). I gave the two 20-year olds gift cards to Sephora. They had only worked there a short time by Christmas last year. (and they clearly LOVE makeup!) I wrapped them all up in gift bags with chocolates.
    Oh, and I gave one Amex card to the entire family who owns the place, and I dropped off a platter of bagels & cream cheese during the week prior to Christmas. I figured they had enough sweets.
    I tried to make the total of all the cards around the cost of a week’s tuition. The staff seemed appreciative…
    I have a some friends who have the attitude that “I spend enough here during the year, I’m not spending anymore at Christmas,” and then give cookies as gifts. My feeling is that these are the people who watch my only child for 8-9 hours a day, every day. They teach him, change his diapers, feed him, get him to nap, and provide a safe, fun place for him to be. And that allows me to be able to work & have health insurance. That’s worth a whole lot more than some cookies to me.
    Does it cost a lot of money? Sure. But it costs less that the hourly rate I occasionally pay a babysitter on Saturday night. To me, it’s not only worth it, it’s necessary.

  7. I’m doing gift cards to Target for Eldest’s teacher (with the idea she can buy something for herself or for her class–her choice). I’m not sure about amount. I’m thinking $25. More than that seems like it could be perceived as some kind of bribery. Somehow. But maybe that’s more about my own suspicious mind. For our daycare provider, a gift card to Sam’s Club for half of what we pay weekly.My parents were schoolteachers–and, man, I always loved all the fudge and cookies they got! But my parents would probably have preferred gift cards, to be honest, as school supplies often came out of their own personal family budget.

  8. A child’s parent (or parentS, as the case may be) takes up a cash collection for all the teachers at our preschool, and then the pot is divvied up between them.I love CX’s teachers. They’re dedicated, quirky, and all-around good people. I know that they’re not getting rich doing this type of work, though I do hope that they’re paid above-average wages. They deserve the extra cash, to be sure, but it puts us in an awkward position because of our own budgetary constraints; I mentioned last night that I should have set aside some cash when we had it, but I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead. Neither of us get a bonus of any kind, so there’s no end-of-year cash infusion like there is (or was) in many places.
    It would be easier on me if I could donate my time toward something each of them needed help with, either at the school or otherwise. Not that I have much time to spare, but I have more flexibility in my schedule than my bank account.

  9. I’m in San Diego. Pumpkin goes to a day care center. Last year, I gave the two workers who were the regulars in Pumpkin’s “room” gift cards to Westfield shopping malls (there are quite a few of these in San Diego and the cards can be used at any store in any of the malls) and also got a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant that delivers and gave it to the center to cover the people who sub in and help out throughout the day. I arrived at this plan after talking to the assistant director of the center. I plan to do something similar this year. I gave $25 gift cards to each teacher. I’m hoping the half a week’s pay thing mentioned above is for a smaller day care arrangement because there is no way I could afford that in addition to the adopt-a-family we always do. Besides, I don’t actually know what a week’s pay is for the teachers at the center- all I know is that I pay the center close to $1400/month.I also gave Amazon gift certificates when Pumpkin moved up from the baby room.

  10. Baby has been at daycare for 2 months. Daycare owner sent out a note that she wants to collect cash from the parents and distribute “fairly” to the staff. I can see her point, but isn’t the point of tipping for the workers to know that *I* appreciate them?It feels odd that she’s going to be the one handing them the money. I’m certainly not worried that she’ll keep any for herself, I think she just wants to make sure the part-timers get some money too. Anyone else dealing with this style of tipping?

  11. I’m one of those people who thinks it is tacky to give cash to friends and family. But your child’s teacher is not friends and family. You and the teacher are in an employer/employee relationship, no matter how close you are and how much you love them. In that kind of relationship, I believe that cash is a fully appropriate gift.As a former teacher I can tell you that while I appreciated the thought behind the scented candles and home baked goodies and store gift cards, I rarely appreciated the actual items.
    Moxie has already covered candles and cookies, but gift cards were never great for me either. They’d be for stores I didn’t shop in, or a mall too far from my house, or I’d get several small cards for various coffee shops that if I could put them all together would add up to me taking everyone out for a hot cocoa, but since they were for three different places added up to almost nothing.
    If your school forbids cash gifts but allows gift cards, both Visa and American Express have gift cards that can be used anywhere those credit cards are accepted.
    If you can’t afford a gift, write the teacher a thank you note, and give a copy to the principal to put in the teacher’s file. Most teachers know which student’s have families that are just scraping by, and they will appreciate the time you took, and the fact that you passed that praise on to the boss.

  12. Minneapolis, MN, university day care, 2 y/o son. The handbook has very specific rules about teacher gifts – nothing over $5 per teacher allowed – so I’m obviously leaning towards sentimental/symbolic. This rule actually kind of bums me out because I’d like to get son’s teachers, whom I suspect are not very well paid, something more substantial (like a Target gift card), but of course don’t want to overstep bounds. When son was at a different daycare last year, without rules about gifts, we brought in take-out menus from some nearby restaurants, said lunch is on us, and delivered food to the staff. I’m pretty sure I got the idea from an Ask Moxie commenter and it was loved by the staff.

  13. Heh, I’ll have to show this to my husband, we were having this discussion the other night – he thought we’d get our DCP some candles or something, and I told him if MY employer gave me some fing candles as a holiday bonus I would stick ’em someplace they couldn’t be lit.Rant over – San Diego suburbs, in-home family child care, giving a check equal to a week’s pay in a holiday card.

  14. because things are tight for us, I tend to go for gift cards, since in my warped mind I feel like I can give less than I would feel the need to in cash. somehow, a 20.00 gift card to target seems less tacky than a 20.00 dollar bill.I really like the idea of a personal note, espeically as my kids get older and the stuff they are learning seems more tangible
    Abby

  15. SLC suburbsMy mom has taught for over 20+ years, her favorite “gift” is a bookstore gift card. She has gotten movie store gift cards/certificates but my mom just cannot stand to sit still long enough to watch anything.
    Her bookstore gift cards have had totals between $50-$100 from just one parent/student. That might be a lot, but if there’s a major chain bookstore near you, my mom has often used the various gift cards she’s received of different amounts towards purchases. And yes, she’s used it mostly towards purchases for her classroom, but that’s where she wanted to use it! (Some clever parents put a note with theirs saying she had to use it on herself…that was the gift card that my mom had a hard time using!)
    I second the heartfelt thank you notes. My mom is not a knick knacks person so those gifts were always really annoying to her, but she loved every thank you note she received and has kept them all.

  16. Sorry, I should have added the deets for statistical purposes:Austin, TX
    Private, independent preschool for 2-5yos
    Suggested donation to the kitty is $50 per child

  17. Tucson. One 3 year old in special ed preschool (this is a public school, so I’m not paying for it beyond my taxes).After consulting with various teacher/mom friends, I followed their advice and got gift cards. Max has eight teachers in his room, so I honestly had to limit the amount. Each got a gift card to Starbucks and a larger gift card for a locally owned bookstore.

  18. hmmm….now i feel close to awful about my silly gifts (soap, candles, ornaments, photos, etc.) i’ve wrapped for them.
    i am not as seasoned as you all;
    1 child in preschool.
    caring loving teachers, director, all the staff…great folks to the core.
    cash is not tacky;
    that’s not my issue…
    i guess my issue is my own ‘selfishness’ and ‘stupidity’.
    are they expecting cash?
    i’ve never even considered it truly.
    i worked for 13 years in healthcare helping brain injured adolescents and adults (and almost as importantly- comforting and educating their families); then with a non-profit for Sudan and the Lost Boys here in the US.
    that said- i never once thought i should get money or a gift for doing my job.
    super nice, but not neccessary.
    surely someone brought this up last year?
    you’ve given me something to discuss with my husband…

  19. Old system: Daycare where the parents’ committee collected for donations throughout teachers. While this system has its downsides, it is (IMO) vastly preferable to a system where it’s every woman for herself and there is competition among both teachers and parents for gifts. And cash is really the only appropriate thing to give people who are paid so little, have kids of their own, and often depend on that money for their own holiday expenses. Now that my two oldest are in private preschool the custom is families do it individually. I am giving AMEX or VISA gift cards to the teachers. Slightly less tacky than actual cash but just as flexible. As others have said, this is fundamentally a business relationship, from which a friendship can develop but it’s important to recognize that this, in some ways, is part of the cost of whatever childcare/schooling arrangement you choose.

  20. My daughter’s school (3yo nursery-8th grade) collects money through the PTC to give to teachers. I am not sure how they feel about outside gifts, because it would be likely they’d want to downplay the financial differences between kids (scholarship vs non vs parent/grandparent school benefactors).I will probably have her make Chanukah cards for all of them as well and include a note from me and my husband to say thank you. The “soap” comment came to mind after parent-teacher conferences, when teachers spent 10 minutes going on about my daughter’s creative drawing and reading and spirit of adventure. The only reason why they see that at school is because she feels safe and loved; she is such a huge fan of school she cries when it’s closed. What they are doing for her there goes far beyond anything I could attempt to match to a gift.
    For my babysitter (I use her 4 hrs a week, only since September) I will just give her an extra week’s pay. She’s really getting 2 extra weeks because Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Thursday, one of the days she works for me. Who doesn’t like cash?
    Moxie, do you think there might be some MTA policy about accepting gifts? Like you’re not supposed to give money or gifts worth more than $20 to a USPS employee? Not creative, but how about a travel mug and a giftcard to a coffee place? He’s probably up at 4 in the morning….

  21. JeCaThRe-I think you nailed it! My mother in law is an aide in a preschool and she gets more lotions/soaps/candles than she could shake a stick at and doesn’t use most of them. She takes them to the food pantry or throws them away. Cash or gift cards are always appreciated and AmEx or Visa gift cards are the most flexible by far.My daughter’s Kindergarten teacher has already sent a note asking to donate a gift to the class instead of getting something for her. We did get some new books and a game and I will have my daughter make her a homemade card as well as cards for her Art, Music, PE and Lunch teachers and her bus dirver and I will be including a note telling them how much I appreciate the fantastic job they do day in and day out.

  22. My kids go (went) to public school, and I don’t believe public employees should receive gifts. I think it heightens the inequalities between the haves and the have nots in a given community.I do my part by supporting every budget override, because what I think teachers really need is decent pay, not a handout at Christmas.
    Private schools and daycares are, of course, another story.

  23. This is timely–I was thinking about this this morning. We have a somewhat unique situation in that a) we are friends with our care provider, b)her license is pending, so our child is the only one there on the two days we need care, c)she’s fantastic and deserves WAY more than we pay her, and d) we are quite desperately poor.So our gift needs to be personal enough to make up for the fact that we can’t give her what we’d like to–$100 cash or the equivalent to a nice restaurant in town. (I know her well enough to know the gift cert. would be a thrill to receive.)
    I’m thinking a bottle of Veuve Clicquot (which I know she’ll appreciate) and a batch of butter cookies. Or a $30 gift cert. to the local art supply store.
    I wish Etsy sold site-wide gift certificates.
    I’m hoping that with beautiful wrapping and a handmade card, the gift will express how utterly grateful we are to have her in our lives, even though we can’t afford to give her a nice big bonus.
    If we weren’t so familiar with her tastes, we’d no doubt settle on something less personal, like a Target gift certificate.

  24. @peaceinyourcrib- my Mom was an elementary school teacher. She always got lots of gifts like you described. I have never asked her what she thought of them, but we always used them and she never said anything disparaging about them. I think she appreciated the thought and got something from every gift. The only gifts we sort of laughed about were the mugs. She always got heaps of Christmas mugs, often with some candy in them. We laughed, but we ate the candy and she still has a lot of those mugs and they did add to the Christmas cheer at our house- at Christmas time, we got to drink our hot chocolate or tea from special mugs.I guess what I’m saying is- don’t worry too much about it. I think you do what seems right to you. You’re not the direct employer of your preschool teachers. The center is. It is up to the center to give Christmas bonuses. You are giving a gift.
    Oh, and last year- my Christmas “bonus” was a fancy box. At the time, I worked at a major contracting firm. I thought it was a bit odd, but use the box and figured I got a good paycheck, so who was I to complain?

  25. We’re still figuring this out, but decided to get our providers a beautiful, hand-tinted photograph of a mountain range in Chile (the couple who owns our daycare are from there). Will also do a handwritten card and some cookies. Would also give cash, too, but we already pay (gladly!) for the days that the center is closed during the holidays (Dec. 24-Jan. 2), which is more than a week’s pay. We LOVE LOVE LOVE our daycare providers, but jut wondering does an additional cash gift on top of the holiday pay feel right or wrong? Would love to hear thoughts.

  26. I wish we could do cash gifts or gift cards this year. But, laid off, re-employed at 2/3 the previous rate, and then ep was laid off (and will be for at least a little while longer – fingers crossed for the infrastructure stimulus package, since a big chunk of that is RIGHT SMACK in his specialty – sustainable architecture and renovations to historic structures… energy efficiency improvements for public buildings R Us!) BUT, that won’t be for a bit. Xmas gifts will shift toward end of year.Meanwhile, thank you notes will be the main theme. I may be able to make a blanket for Mr B’s teacher’s baby as a gift. Or booties for her (I have a good bit of fleece remaining from making dresses for Miss-R-who-will-not-wear-clothes-with-seams-or-waistbands, bought at a nice discount at that).
    I’m finding myself right smack on the quote above – Mr B had huge huge issues about reading (especially aloud) when he started this year, due to his articulation delay (or rather, my initial mistakes in trying to encourage better enunciation – not that I did it more than a few times, but it created a huge issue for him at a personal level). At the beginning of the year, he pretty much refused to read anything challenging at all, and certainly not around me. This week, he kicked up a fuss because I wanted him to turn out the light and go to sleep, and he wanted to finish reading the Danny and the Dinosaur Treasury (over 100 pages) aloud to me, including asking (!!) me for help with difficult words, without shutting down emotionally in distress over not being able to say them perfectly. I’m *so* on the no f-ing soap planet. And I have no cash, dammit. I’m likewise on the same planet for the administration, who put so much effort over the summer into making sure he was placed with the right teacher for his needs.
    Sigh. Maybe by the spring we’ll have a better profile for that. Meanwhile, a nice, detailed thank-you to all concerned. I like the idea of copy for the file, too. Definitely a worthwhile addition to the plan.

  27. From above: “As a former teacher I can tell you that while I appreciated the thought behind the scented candles and home baked goodies and store gift cards, I rarely appreciated the actual items.”This is basically what I was going to say. When I taught, I always went home with so many boxes of cookies/chocolates and bottles of fragranced lotion. Even if I ate the treats for every meal for a week, they wouldn’t be gone, and I hate the feel of lotion on my skin – only use it in the desperation of winter. And as someone who doesn’t live near my family, Christmas usually involved a 2 week trip starting the day of break, so then I returned to a slew of 2-week-old baked goods, and just felt guilty.
    I always wished I just got a card or a note because I felt bad about not making use of the gifts I was given.
    The rare times I got a small amount of cash were awesome. I don’t think anyone in one of these underpaid professions would feel like they were really hoping for a candle instead.

  28. We did Border’s gift cards last year ($25 for each of the 3 primary teachers, $15 for a teacher who’s occasionally there), along with heartfelt notes. I’ll probably do something similar this year. Some other parents have mentioned pooling resources and buying the staff something together, but I don’t know whether anything will come of that.The owners of the daycare/preschool give every child a gift, according to the holiday he/she celebrates. I think that’s pretty amazing, actually.

  29. Atlanta GABoth our private preschool and public elementary had collections when school began. They were intended to be used for teachers and support staff for Christmas gift cards- and divided equally. However, that was so long ago and so impersonal, that I feel the need to do something for those who are important to us. We are making homemade apple butter (really simple and not caloric) and the kids will give them to their teachers themselves.

  30. @peaceinyourcrib–While soaps and ornaments can be tricky because people’s tastes vary so much and while I recognize that this is a business relationship we have with our caregivers, I’d like to believe that we live in a world where carefully chosen, thoughtful gifts will be appreciated for the generosity of spirit behind them.@Moxie–I totally hear what you are saying about the cash bonus thing, but I can’t imagine I’d handle the holiday gift any different if my care provider were a man.

  31. My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher has been teaching for 9 years in Central Kentucky. She has more than enough mugs, #1 Teacher signs, and other random crap.Since I’m the classroom parent, I used a service called FrumUs.com to allow other parents to contribute to a shared gift via PayPal or credit card. They were also able to vote on the best gift for her. So far we’re right around $200, and it will be a personalized AmEx gift card (unanimous vote so far). She can use it for the classroom stuff she’s been paying out of her own pocket, or to buy something for herself and her family. I don’t care.
    Since some of the kids are less advantaged, it’s from the whole class with no indication of who contributed or how much. Most people have kicked in everywhere from $5 to $25, depending on their own needs.
    I hope she likes it.

  32. Boston area, eldest in preschool, baby in family daycare.For preschool – I just bought $20 giftcards to a local (down the block from preschool) coffee shop/lunch place, one for each of his three teachers. I decided this way I am also supporting a local business.
    For the family daycare, we will probably give her a week’s tuition (which is already far lower than most around here, $175) plus a bottle of wine. We’ve known her since eldest was born and she takes care of our kids like she is their grandmother, including actually getting them holiday gifts, so I feel almost like the $ is a holiday tip and the wine is a gift such as for a friend of the family. I always write her a personal note too.

  33. I forgot my details, as well.Small mid-atlantic college town.
    And @peaceinyourcrib, none of the teachers I know hated the gifts they got, though some were problematic (the teacher who kept being given maple syrup – she’s allergic to maple trees, and the syrup is a no-go). She understood that parents were trying, were often stumped, and needed to buy for many people. She took everything as a genuine gift – no grumping over getting nothing from someone, either. She has a lot of mugs, and a lot of hand made cards on her fridge. She likes the gift cards and cash, definitely. But she wouldn’t do more than smile over the candles and such. She knows that everyone is doing what they can. I do think she donates some of it, but not with ill will at all.
    Give the candles or whatever this year, and think ahead for next year. You acted on what you knew, and that’s okay.
    We’ve also given gifts to the classroom in the past. Books are always welcome, and for the younger classrooms, wooden puzzles. The certified Montessori materials are so incredibly expensive they suck up a lot of resources, unfortunately.

  34. I was only through my student teaching before I left to stay home w/ my daughter, but I have to say, I’d feel just a little odd accepting straight cash from parents. Somehow a gift card seems more acceptable to me. Gift cards can be used however the teacher sees fit…personally, I’d probably end up using it for classroom supplies, since there’s no way you can get everything you’d like your classroom to have with the school budget. I’d lean towards cards for places that have school-friendly items: bookstores (or Amazon!), Staples, craft stores for teachers of the younger kids, or general stores like Target.

  35. I ought to mention that I’m a (former) public school teacher too. I was used to getting thought filled (and thoughtless) gifts of low monetary value, and because I taught special ed. and had a smaller class, I got fewer than the much loved kindergarten teacher. It didn’t bother me. Our schools all do it, but I don’t feel that being handed cash is meaningful- nice to have- but not meaningful if it comes from the PTA and not a specific person. The letter idea is nice- I kept a file of nice words which I could reread on tough days.

  36. (er, hedra can’t read the instructions today)kids: 1 5th grader, 1 1st grader (both public Charter); 2 preschoolers (private Montessori)

  37. thanks Cloud and Anna.all these tokens are from the heart; and i look these women in the eye at least weekly and tell them ‘thank-you’; even said- ‘love you guys’ on my way out of the preschool hall 1 day.
    thanks for giving me prespective and stuff to consider for the future.

  38. Our NFP church-based daycare has a fund where you donate an amount and the teachers all get a cut and a note to say who donated– although I don’t know if they learn the amounts.As my DD has gone through three classrooms, six teachers, and at least as many aides this year (as she did last year) that was the program for me. I contributed a week’s tuition to the fund.
    I have no idea how much other parents contributed. I do know that some people went the individual gift card route, but to me, that seemed to leave out the teachers in the classrooms from which my DD graduated.
    Also, I gave Christmas cards with thank-you notes inside to all the classrooms she was in. This year, I plan to have DD decorate the cards to the best of her ability.

  39. Thanks to other posters for helping to soften my comment, upon reading peaceinyourcrib’s post and rereading mine, I realize it may have come across as pretty harsh. My apologies, I did not intend to put down someone’s gift. I think Cloud is right on the money (har har) with her post. And with that I will be quiet now before I grinch this whole thing up.

  40. I’m so with you on this. Each year, one of my clients gave me a bottle of champagne. I know darned good and well, that she knew I don’t drink. I so could have used the money back then, having been a single mother.One of my current clients gives me money for both my birthday and X-Mas. A few others have, as well. The money along with a note about how I am appreciated and loved does so much more for me than a gift. The gifts are often lovely, but not about me and who I am. That part of me doesn’t show at work. I leave all those things behind when I go to work. Besides – a $500 purse? What the heck good does that do me? I have the purse that I want.

  41. Shandra and Anna, that wasn’t exactly what I meant. I wasn’t saying that you’d give cash if your provider was a man. I’m saying (and this goes back to the discussion last year, but I think you have to click to the second page of comments to see it) that because women still work in professions that are seen as “women’s work” it’s OK to give them candles, etc. No one would bat an eyebrow at giving a doorman or super of a building a cash gift. Why is it different for a teacher or daycare provider, who works just as hard?Peaceinyourcrib, do they *expect* it? I don’t know? Do people who work in offices *expect* bonuses? It’s the same thing to me. Expect may be a strong word.

  42. Context: 20-month twins cared for in our home by an awesome nanny 35 hours/week. Small town in PNW. We are doing fine for money, nanny is struggling.Last year, when she was only part time, we gave a card and letter with $100 cash inside. Thinking about doing more this year, like 1 week’s salary, but we’re going away all of next week with the boys for our work (without the nanny), and we’ll pay her for that time, on top of actual holiday vacation, so I’ll probably stick with about $100 plus a calendar I made of photos of the boys. I know she’ll appreciate it.

  43. @suzanna – I find that often folks don’t realize that when they leave on vacation they should pay the nanny her wages. It is next to impossible to find another job for such a short time. Besides, she makes a commitment to you so they loyalty should be equal. This is, after all the woman who takes care of the most precious thing in your life. Good for you for giving her pay during your vacation and good for you for being generous.

  44. @peaceinyourcribIt’s great to learn something for next year, but I don’t think there’s any reason to feel bad about doing something from the heart. Be sure to include a note with your thanks, as I’m sure you would. I don’t expect a bonus and, to be honest, would be excited to get a gift of any kind from my employer, especially in this economy. And I work for a large, public company.
    It would break my heart if you felt bad about doing something good because of what you read here.

  45. I’m feeling very on the fence about this issue. My younger child is at a preschool with a rather substandard administration. She’s happy to be there playing with other kids; we are not happy with the way the place is run. If she was the least bit unhappy, we’d yank her out of there.The preschool is already nickle and diming us for stuff that I believe should be included in tuiton (and then the tuition should raised by the necessary amount). I also know they are not obeying labor laws or using proper accounting methods.
    The school has asked for cash gifts that will supposedly be pooled and divided among all the teachers. Which makes me very suspicious when I already know about the other financial issues. I think the underpaid teachers should get all of the cash gifts but I don’t trust that they will.
    On the other hand, those preschool teachers are getting a paid six day holiday at Christmas, and the year-long holiday schedule is also pretty generous. Like the preschool teachers, I work at a non-profit, we also get paid holidays, but we don’t get a bonus.
    My older kid goes to a private school that is amazing. We think the teachers are phenomenal. But they also get paid holidays and they make more money then we do (we’re there on financial aid), so again, at the risk of sounding awfully cheap, I’m just not thrilled with cash gifts. I’m happy to have my children make cards, but I really don’t like this whole practice.
    Giving a bonus to a nanny or other childcare worker who does not get paid days off is an entirely different thing. I would have no problem giving a cash gift in that situation and we did give a cash gift to our babysitter last year (no babysitter this year).

  46. I taught high school, so I never received lots of gifts, only a handful of items at the end of each semester from students who REALLY liked my class or who thought sucking up might get them an “A”…yeah, right. Anyhow, I appreciated the thought behind jelly beans, chocolates and Bath & Body Works products, but what mattered more were the cards saying things like “I look forward to your class each day, thanks for all you do!” etc. etc. Teachers are so underappreciated (at least high school teachers are) that those notes are like $100, at least to me. I hope my DH and I are in a financial position eventually to give a nice cash gift to Evie’s teachers, sounds like a great idea. Or maybe a gift card for a $50 spa pedicure? That would have been just as good as cash to this teacher. 🙂

  47. One kid, almost two (MONDAY) in a large day care center with four teachers (two morning, two afternoon). I’m planning on dividing a weeks tuition four ways and giving gift cards. I’m also making four tote bags for reusable grocery bags.I’m realistic here. We are lucky, we’ve got plenty of money, because we are still living like a family of a medical resident, but finally making actual money.
    They LOVE my kid, seriously, I picked him up the other day and one spontaneously said “We really enjoy having him here.” And even as his mom, I can’t say he’s a joy and a delight. He’s funny etc. but he’s a tough kid to manage and he’s really sensitive and they spend a lot of time carrying him, holding him and comforting him, not to mention teaching him things that he gets to surprise me with every week. They give him more attention than I could expect, and they apologize and feel bad because they couldn’t do more for him. They have never once seemed the slightest bit frustrated. And he’s often got to be nebbed during the day and that is a huge trial with him. And they don’t bat an eyelash at the cloth diapers. And honestly, the kid runs away from me when I come to pick him up because he is so happy to be there.
    Can you tell I’m pretty happy?
    Former teacher here to also say that a mug, candy, an ornament, nothing, a booklet of movie passes or a 30 dollar gift certificate to the mall… made me feel not a LICK different toward a parent or a child. So, there you have it. Was the money awesome (I was working at a small private school and making very little money)? YES, it was awesome. So… do what you can do, what you feel you want to do, and rest assured that most of those people will take a gift in the spirit it was given.

  48. I tip my hairdresser and leave a bonus for my maid.I’m giving the teachers cash. I am interested to reading the appropriate amounts.

  49. NW-Indiana (south Chicago suburbs), one 3-yr old going to center day care (was full-time down to 3 days/week now that I’m on maternity leave)He has two primary teachers and two teachers who do a couple of hours in the afternoon every day, so regular. All four are getting $15 Target gift cards inside homemade cards. Last year, I did not do the gift cards for the “closers” but they are more regular this year. The $60 works out to about 1/2 of a week’s part-time tuition. I have no idea whether they get end of year/holiday bonuses from the center but they do get paid vacation and health insurance.

  50. I am a SAHM to 4, ages 9, 7, 3 and almost 2. I am having a rough time with figuring this out this year. My older 2 go to parochial school and my 3 year old attends prescool there 2 mornings a week. I pay tuition for all 3 and staying home, the budget is tight. My 3 year old has 2 teachers, my second grader has a teacher and 2 aides, and my fourth grader is transitioning to middle school, so she has 4 teachers. I usually end up writing notes with a small monetary gift card, but where do you stop? I don’t want to disclude the aides, as I feel they work almost as hard as the teacher. And with my oldest, she has a homeroom teacher, but that isn’t her only teacher. I might lose my mind when all 4 of them are older – where should the line be drawn? Is it better to give more to fewer, or less to more?They do so much. And teachers at my school do not get paid very well. I just wish I could do more…

  51. Ohio college town. My husband teaches and has summers off, I work full year. Kids are still has sitters a few days a week during the summer.Daughter 6 in parochial school kindergarten- There are 2 kindergarten classes and the teachers switch classes so it is equal time. Each teacher is getting $20 to Panera. The Administrative Assistant and Principal are each getting $10 to Panera, and the Extended Day head teacher is getting $10 to Panera. The college girls that help at extended day and recess are getting personal pizza coupons sold as a fundrasier.
    The Panera gift cards ( and many other gift card presents this year) are part of the SCRIPTS/TRIPS program with daughters school. We buy the gift cards through the school and a small percentage is a discount on next years tuition.
    Son 3.5 in preschool program at University- His teacher was also daughters teacher. She asked that we bring in items for http://hannahssocks.org/. I will do that but already had a $10 to Panera card for her so will give that as well. I have given extra craft items and spare boots and winter wear over the years. When all 3 kids are done there I expect to have a big family gift.
    Son 6 months at home day care. Older son attends in afternoons after morning preschool. Our sitter is just fantastic. Her daughter was married this summer and our gift to them was the wedding photos (we have a side wedding photo business). I can’t afford to give an extra weeks pay but I will be paying her full amount for short weeks around the holidays as well as $40. We also paid her the full week of Thanksgiving. Before I sold off much of my scrapbook supplies I let her and her daughter take what they wanted.
    Her notes to us during the holidays are so wonderful I want to send her one as well.

  52. No no, I meant it honestly. I can’t think of a man I would give a cash gift to. We own our home and when we’ve tipped (which is supposedly against the rules), we’ve given Tim Horton’s gift certificates to our postal worker and garbage pickup guys.I’m still not sure what we’re doing at our daycare this year. When I had a nanny I gave her two weeks’ pay because I was her employer. At our daycare the staff get those two weeks off, and last year we did $25 certificates… for 8 staff… which felt like a lot.

  53. DC suburbs, 21 month old, nanny cares for in our house.We are giving her one week’s pay, which is hefty. Even though we are tight for cash right now, we still do really well overall. My nanny is going to college at night, and we know she could use the money. Also, I randomly think about that comment from last year that Moxie quoted all the time. I just believe in monetary tips and will likely always give those. I will also give her some of the holiday cookies I make every year.
    @Anna – I love the idea of an Etsy-wide gift certificate! That would be so useful. You should suggest it to Etsy!
    @Shandra – We do cash for the male postal worker and trashmen. But as I said above, we are cash givers.

  54. Man, I would LOVE to give a cash gift! So easy. Nice card, trip to the ATM and done. However, that is just considered so tacky here in France that I could never never do it. So I’m still stuck searching for non-cheesy ideas.

  55. @Moxie-“Why is it different for a teacher or daycare provider, who works just as hard?”I guess I DO see what our daycare provider does as different from being a doorman or even from my job, profoundly so, and want to recognize her in a meaningful way in addition to giving cash. I think that may be where the hesitation to give cash on the part of some of the givers (and receivers) may come from. Like it or not, we have an oddly intimate relationship with our childcare providers, and it is difficult to untangle our feelings about our children from the professional relationship.
    In my case, she took my child from a situation where she was crying and refusing to take a bottle for 6-7 hours straight and taught her to enjoy her time away from me. I mean, money, yes, but holy cow, this woman enabled me to go back to work with joy instead of sadness and is one of the biggest reasons our family functions at all. I feel the need to express MORE than here’s some cash in an envelope, thanks.
    That said, yes, I am totally on board with cash gifts (in addition to something personal like a card), paid vacations, etc. etc. These people work HARD.
    And as M. grows older and goes to preschool instead of getting this one-on-one care, I think the relationship will become more purely “professional” if that makes sense.
    I suppose I am uncomfortable with framing this as a woman’s work vs. man’s work thing: I know plenty of people who tip their bikini waxers (also a traditionally “female” job) a ton and still neglect their nannies!

  56. Another high school teacher here, and by this point I don’t get a ton of gifts (with each kid having a coach, and an advisor, and 7-8 teachers, that’s a lot for a family to deal with, I totally understand and I didn’t give teachers many gifts at Holiday season when I was in school) but when I do I really appreciate heartfelt notes and gift cards. The school here is very close to a B&N, and as an English teacher, I can always find a use for a book gift card. Coffee cards are nice, too, and I take them with me when I travel to get a special treat if it’s a sbucks card.

  57. 8 yr old in public school. 2 teachers.14 month old in daycare. 2 teachers.
    Card with a hand written note of thanks and a gift card inside for everyone. I don’t have the time or energy to be more creative than that. Probably $25 for everybody unless I give more to the daycare teachers.

  58. I hate to sound like a Grinch, especially on a tangent, but I deal with this dilemma every year, so any insight is appreciated.December is NOT my holiday season. It’s not “that wonderful time of the year,” my kids don’t get wads of presents from family, I don’t take time off to see my family and just revel in miracles or peace on earth. Growing up, my family worked on Christmas, and now, I am one of the few in the office around Christmas and Hannukah since I have no plans to go away. Neither my husband or I get an “end of year” bonus from our employers.
    Our holidays fall at other times of the year, and for the most part, we scramble to make those days special while crammed in between school and work. We don’t get time off automatically. You have any idea how heart-breaking it is for a little kid to have to make a decision between celebrating a holiday and getting that Perfect Attendance award?
    So I shouldn’t have to feel like I have to give my mailman, or my child’s teachers, or any of the people I work with/for/etc, a special bonus for the holidays. Am I missing the point? I understand wanting to share the happiness of the holiday season with all the people who are wonderful and do stuff for us, but if it’s not MY holiday, this becomes a chore, a burden. I understand that a bonus is helpful for people who work “for” me by keeping my children, but not all jobs and professions GET a bonus to begin with.
    I read an article recently that said around this time, you are supposed to give bonuses/tips equal to the service. So if you get a $100 facial, you give a $100 tip. If you pay your nanny $800 a week, you give her a $800 bonus. The numbers are insanely high to me, but that’s the numbers the parents in NYC seem to be going with. But the even bigger thing that just makes me the green Grinch is that why am I under this expectation that I participate in this cycle? I get that people can use money at the end of the year, but because it’s tied to a holiday I don’t partake in, it becomes yet another burden. It’s hard enough trying to balance the very gift-oriented season with the kids not getting anything, and now having to figure out if my kids will get shortcharged by the teachers (I know they won’t, but it makes me wonder) because they were the only ones to not give something for Christmas.
    So I am curious: is the expectation that we (the outsiders) have to partake in this ritual?
    I know parents who are giving their children’s teachers and wine and cheese (expensive wine). And I feel like I have to do something just so my kid isn’t the odd one out. But I feel entirely resentful about being placed in that kind of obligatory situation.

  59. Due to a move last year (suburban Cleveland), this is our first holiday at our current daycare, which is part of a Jewish based school (we are not Jewish). Some of the questions I asked when we were looking for daycares were the pay range of the teachers, if they received healthcare coverage and if they got paid vacation days. These were all very important issues to us and since the place we go offers all of this (it IS a few hundred more a month than other daycares) I don’t feel the *need* to suppliment their regular pay with gifts as I did at our old daycare. I do however like to make a gesture of kindness during the holiday season and Target gift cards ranging from $10-25 to the teachers and aids is our plan for this year.

  60. I don’t think anyone should ever feel like they HAVE to give a gift or an extra tip at the holidays. I give because I can and I want to. However, when I made less money, I used to be careful not to schedule hair cuts, etc in December because I couldn’t afford the extra tip. I think that is sad, but I doubt I’m the only one who did that.@Perfectly Disgraceful – my Mom taught public school in an area where a lot of the kids were from families that made less than ours did. She did not get gifts from everyone, and I don’t think she or her colleagues would have expected gifts from everyone. Some of the families who couldn’t afford gifts gave cards, and she read every single one of them and appreciated the kind words as much as the gifts from the wealthier families. And I never, ever heard her say anything that would imply she viewed a kid differently based on what his/her parents did at the holidays. I think the thought would horrify her. Honestly, she always seemed to separate the kids from the parents. She was able to like and appreciate kids even if they had parent who made her life difficult.
    @Melia- you make an excellent point. I’d like to think that no one is expecting gifts/tips from you. But realistically- I don’t know.

  61. @iKate, you took the words out of my mouth. We carefully researched pay and benefits of our teachers, and pay extra for it all year, so we know large cash gifts aren’t as necessary. My kids are 1 and 3 in Spokane, and we’re giving hand-turned (by my husband) wooden pens and handmade (by me!) Japanese washi stationery this year, plus of course thank-you notes.

  62. @melia – I have to say, for this issue, I sometimes think it would be great to celebrate holidays at a different time. Present shopping – which can be fun – turns into a chore so easily when you’ve got all the other holiday things to deal with. So if this is the time one normally makes a special effort at your kids’ school, well, why not write a note? And if there’s another time of year which is “your” time to make a special effort, I can’t imagine that anyone would object to a note and present at that time, rather than the “standard” ones.Another reason for doing things is that it’s the end of the year. Presumably you’re on the Gregorian calendar! So you can feel free to write a note/send a present that says “Thanks for all your hard work this year!” without feeling you’re endorsing a different tradition.

  63. The PTA at my son’s daycare (NFP child care center – upstate NY) collects a suggested $75 from each family to be distributed as teacher gifts.At Thanksgiving, on an impulse, I scrawled little notes thanking his two primary teachers and the staff in the late room (sigh) for all that they’ve done for him and us, with lots of specific details. The director of the center stopped me in the hall to mention how much the teachers liked those. I say this not to toot my own horn, but just to emphasize how much individualized thanks can mean.
    I will probably do the same for the winter holidays, perhaps with a gift for the classroom since I know that the PTA is doing gift cards.

  64. @melia – if your issue is doing it at year-end, why not do the same bonus/thank-you/recognition whenever it is you celebrate your holiday? Doesn’t that solve the problem? And I know of plenty of people here in the DC area that give their nannies, daycare providers, teachers, etc. Eid presents if the individuals are celebrating that, so I’m a little puzzled as to why the anger over different people’s celebrations?

  65. this is timely for me because its our first time. my daughter goes to a daycare center and is almost 13 months old. in the infant center where she still is (until she goes to one nap) there are three rooms and she has gone through all three rooms but has been in this “walkers” room for about 4 months now.I LOVE her current teachers- one is a college student working her butt off and the other is a mom who gives me her kids hand-me-down clothes. They are genuinely loving and amazing with my daughter. But the adminsitration of hte daycare bugs me- its FOR PROFIT center & they (administration, not teachers) actually asked us to sell some crappy butter-braids (read: bad junk food) to raise money for the teachers bonuses. I was so uncomfortable with this idea because its for-profit and the product was pretty unhealthy AND my daughter is allergic to the eggs in it.
    Anyway, I decided that I would give $25 to each of the teachers in her current room and homemade bath salts to the other teachers. I wanted to bake something but I know they are all trying to watch what they eat so the homemade bath salts made sense to me. Or maybe $5 gift cards to the coffee shop across the street instead of bath salts?
    hhhhmmmmmm

  66. Moxie, the last I knew, in New York if the gift is over $50 teachers have to declare it on their taxes. I don’t know if this is true in other states, but you don’t want to try to do something nice and then cause them harm. If you are going to go over that amount, maybe give smaller amounts on multiple cards.

  67. Some schools may have policies on accepting gifts (especially if the parents are wealthy and tend to give extravagant things), so do check your own school and make sure you aren’t putting the teacher in an awkward position of giving something he or she is supposed to reject.

  68. I had MM make a card every year for each of his (daycare) teachers and last year we gave Borders gift cards to his 3 main (kindergarten) teachers. Every year we also give a Harry and David’s tower of treats to the whole school staff (daycare/kindergarten).This year, I’m going to give a Border’s card to his first grade teacher and to his two main after-school teachers. I’m thinking of doing a tower of treats to hand to his first-grade teacher to distribute to the specialty teachers he sees once or twice a week.

  69. Suburban Maryland, 16 month old in a toddler room at a daycare center and a 5 year old in kindergarten.This year I’m giving a “meal”. We have a local company that makes all kinds of great jarred foods, and each teacher is getting a bag with: a giant can of spaghetti sauce, a giant can of marinara sauce, a package of Christmas-shaped pasta, and a spaghetti serving spoon thing (what are they called? They have “teeth”).
    In the past I’ve done Target giftcards, but my husband came up with this idea this year. Whenever hubby gets involved in this type of thing, I run with it.

  70. Two sides of the coin here:As a former public school English teacher, my favorite gifts were ornaments and books. Every ornament I have on my tree now is from a former student. I can almost remember who gave me what, and I love telling my boys about the ornaments and where they came from. And, my students/families could never go wrong with books.
    Other side: I’m now a university professor in a small college town in the rural south. My 3yo goes to a Montessori school. The three teachers don’t make much and don’t get benefits. They have to put up with my DS pooping in his pants everyday. They keep him safe and happy. They’re getting $50 each with a handwritten note from me.
    (We usually pay off credit cards each month, but we’re going to pay the minimum this month so that we can give to the teachers.)

  71. I love this discussion – it’s so interesting to read the varying points of view.My data: 2.5-y.o. girl in large family-run daycare, where she’s been since she was 8 months old. Just outside Portland, Me.
    Last year we did $100 in Visa cards, split between the two women who run the place, plus some nonperishable homemade goodies. This year, we’ve decided to spend the same amount of money – which is 1/2 a week of tuition – but split it up into 4 gift certificates to local businesses: the bakery, the bookstore, the pizza place and the community center (pool). We’ve gotten to know our providers – who are a couple – really well in the last year, and know that they use & enjoy these places. They’re also huge “buy local” supporters, so this feels right.
    Also, FWIW, we pay for vacations & holidays – it’s the daycare policy, which I completely support. (They set the days in advance for the year ahead.) I have heard some other parents grousing about paying for those days, and I just don’t get it – yes, it’s a hassle to find care/rearrange work for those days – but if anyone deserves paid vacation time, isn’t it childcare providers?

  72. I am sorry this is related but not on topic. You mentioned that women are supposed to be seen as above money… I think that is also true of things women do. We are expected to donate our skills and time but for more ‘male’ work no one expects that. I am a graphic designer and everyone always acts like I should donate my services, or are shocked at my rates, but when my husband works on a computer or does more ‘tech’ stuff, people pay VERY well.I didn’t really think about giving anything to our daycare…. he’s in a montisorry school in the infant room and there 4-6 people in there. The only thing I could think of is food, I can’t get something for everyone… but dietary restrictions? Oh My!

  73. @melia, I don’t think giving a gift around a holiday season you don’t celebrate is required. And I don’t think it makes you a scrooge to feel resentful because you feel it is implied by society that you should. As a teacher (yes, the one who got handed that surprising wad of bills), I don’t expect, want, or need presents around the holiday season. It’s a nice gesture that some families do…nothing more than that. I don’t think there are teachers out there who are mentally counting up their loot ahead of time with dollar signs in their eyeballs. If you are uncomfortable giving something now, then don’t. I think that’s fine. If, at the end of the traditional school calendar (May or June for most people in the US), you want to show your appreciation for an outstanding teacher, then maybe that would be a more comfortable time for you to do so, when it’s not tied to any religion, holiday, or tradition. Teachers don’t keep a tally of who gave what and when. We simply have too much else to do.And as for going with cash/gift cards versus soap or candles or lotion…..it is true…we get lots of soap, candles and lotion. I didn’t re-read my post from last year, but I do know that scent is a very personal thing for many people, and what smells good to someone else may not smell good to me, or vice versa. ANY gesture that involves the child is appreciated – so get your children involved if they are old enough. A note, letter, card, whatever is valued much more than something that someone’s mother clearly picked out and when you thank the child for it later they look at you like you’ve lost your mind because they have no idea what their mom bought for you.
    And for those (like us) who are really struggling financially right now…..make a card, write some thoughtful, heartfelt words inside, have your child do the same, and give that. As I said above, the holiday season isn’t the only time of year parents typically show appreciation for teachers through gift giving…the end of the school year is another opportunity. And so maybe shoot for thoughtful for the holiday season, and something with a monetary value at the end of the year. IF you feel you want to. Again, it’s not expected. Appreciated yes. Expected, no.
    Also (could there be more?) if your child has a sh*tty teacher, a basic card (or nothing at all) is perfectly appropriate. Only show appreciation if it is truly deserved.

  74. My daycare provider is a saint whom I love! We give her $100 cash for her Chistmas bonus and I may still buy her a small friendship gift… depends on if I see anything that screams her name.(For perspective purposes, we pay 135/week in childcare so we give her almost a week’s pay.)

  75. Hmm…I pay $215 a week in child care not including the bi-yearly supply and technology fees. It’s a little more than half of what I’d pay if I had a fulltime nanny, which is why I don’t have a fulltime nanny. It really never occured to me to think I should be gifting either of his teachers what would be a week of what I pay the center. And I really can’t imagine giving a nanny, no matter how dear, an $800 bonus/christmas present which is what two weeks paid vacation would be. That boggles my mind. I must be the cheapest person on the planet.

  76. Western Mass. Son has been in Montessori pre-school since mid-October. There are 8 teachers in the school, none of which is “his.”Thankfully, the school’s December newsletter included a note about not giving gifts individual teachers. Instead, they had a short wish list of things for the school as well as the suggestion that people could donate to a staff dinner.
    My son picked the gift that he wanted to give (after deciding against one that he really wanted for himself). We gave the school the cash with a general card thanking them for welcoming him to the school.
    He doesn’t know the teachers well enough yet to write individualized notes, but we’ll definitely do that next year.

  77. I am in SF and have a toddler in family daycare.While we are not struggling for $$$, I do pay $325/week in daycare costs and have to take time off during the holiday to care for my child because the daycare is closed. I’m thinking $325 (even split 4 ways, for the owner and her 3 helpers) is WAY TOO MUCH for us to pay in gifts. I think the one week thing makes a lot of sense if you live in an area where you don’t pay a ton. Since we are struggling to make ends meet in an expensive place I really hope our daycare provider will forgive me if I don’t give the full amount to her and her staff!
    Worries aside, here is my question:
    in a case like mine, where there is one daycare owner and three young (in twenties) helpers, how do you split it up? The daycare owner takes on the responsibility of scheduling and spends a lot of time with the kids, but the helpers spend MORE time with them. How should I split whatever I can afford to give them?
    (oh, and Mom2Boys, we were in a nanny share spending $550/week on daycare plus taxes – the nanny was making $1100 total. part of the reason I made sure we ended the nanny share back in Sept was that I literally could not reason through, in my head, why the nanny who makes as much as *i* do should get an $1100 Christmas bonus for taking care of just two little ones, and having all her meals provided… so I think I win the cheapness award :0) – oh, and lest anyone think I am evil for ending the nanny share, I made sure to give them six weeks notice that I was ending it, and the nanny and my share partner are totally happy with a new family now).

  78. Parent of toddler in Montessori, east coast US.My son’s class parents just sent out a note yesterday that they are collecting $15 from each family who wishes to participate for a class gift of a credit card type gift card. That $15 will be distributed to the two teachers. Before I received the notice, I was planning to give $15 cash to each of the two teachers but now think I’d feel odd giving more than the $15 requested. I will use the $15 I’d planned to give to the after-care person. I wish I had the extra cash to bring in bagels for all the staff one day because that is nice, (and cheaper than lunch I think). That sounds like a great idea. Perhaps I could do that in January.
    I’m planning to give our 2x/month babysitter either $25 extra cash when she is with us this weekend or a $25 gas card,(I’m leaning towards the cash but it seems impersonal. I’ll write a nice note with it so I think that’ll help get the impersonal out.) I arrived at the $25 thinking about half a night’s pay. (Yes, we pay $10/hour and are typically out about four hours. But she is fantastic so I think the rate is worth it. I actually am rethinking and perhaps he “real” holiday present will be for me to work w/ my husband about how much to raise her hourly wage, perhaps to $11 or $12.)
    UPS delivery person? Some years I do, some don’t. Typically homemade cookies, not cash, but no time this year to bake.
    I’m also a teacher and honestly can say I appreciate the notes more than any gift. But, perhaps more families are in tune with what has been said here, because in the last few years I have gotten more and more terrific gift cards. I am delighted by $5 to a big coffee place or to a bookstore. When my son was an infant, I got several wonderful baby gifts and that was really nice; he still sleeps with one of the stuffed animals a student got him. The larger gifts are a wonderful surprise, (larger ones have been gcerts for manicures or $20 retail store or mall certif.), but I do feel a bit awkward. I am a subject teacher so my students have at least four other teachers in their day. I do not expect gifts since they do have so many teachers but are certainly delighted to receive them.
    Feel free to skip the knick-knack-y and candle items, but you should know that many teachers trade them with each other, regift, or put in a drawer. So if you’re thinking of whatever is near the checkout for about $5, please consider just a $5 book store gcert or even $3 cash. But if your life is hectic, take that stress out of the equation and do whatever works for you.
    I also think that parents can certainly cut themselves a little slack and give a homemade card or gift in January. Perhaps you’ll have more time to create something over a Winter Break. And, to repeat what someone said earlier, the present never affects how I treat a child.
    Here’s to a little hibernation time for all!

  79. Parent of toddler in Montessori, east coast US.My son’s class parents just sent out a note yesterday that they are collecting $15 from each family who wishes to participate for a class gift of a credit card type gift card. That $15 will be distributed to the two teachers. Before I received the notice, I was planning to give $15 cash to each of the two teachers but now think I’d feel odd giving more than the $15 requested. I will use the $15 I’d planned to give to the after-care person. I wish I had the extra cash to bring in bagels for all the staff one day because that is nice, (and cheaper than lunch I think). That sounds like a great idea. Perhaps I could do that in January.
    I’m planning to give our 2x/month babysitter either $25 extra cash when she is with us this weekend or a $25 gas card,(I’m leaning towards the cash but it seems impersonal. I’ll write a nice note with it so I think that’ll help get the impersonal out.) I arrived at the $25 thinking about half a night’s pay. (Yes, we pay $10/hour and are typically out about four hours. But she is fantastic so I think the rate is worth it. I actually am rethinking and perhaps he “real” holiday present will be for me to work w/ my husband about how much to raise her hourly wage, perhaps to $11 or $12.)
    UPS delivery person? Some years I do, some don’t. Typically homemade cookies, not cash, but no time this year to bake.
    I’m also a teacher and honestly can say I appreciate the notes more than any gift. But, perhaps more families are in tune with what has been said here, because in the last few years I have gotten more and more terrific gift cards. I am delighted by $5 to a big coffee place or to a bookstore. When my son was an infant, I got several wonderful baby gifts and that was really nice; he still sleeps with one of the stuffed animals a student got him. The larger gifts are a wonderful surprise, (larger ones have been gcerts for manicures or $20 retail store or mall certif.), but I do feel a bit awkward. I am a subject teacher so my students have at least four other teachers in their day. I do not expect gifts since they do have so many teachers but are certainly delighted to receive them.
    Feel free to skip the knick-knack-y and candle items, but you should know that many teachers trade them with each other, regift, or put in a drawer. So if you’re thinking of whatever is near the checkout for about $5, please consider just a $5 book store gcert or even $3 cash. But if your life is hectic, take that stress out of the equation and do whatever works for you.
    I also think that parents can certainly cut themselves a little slack and give a homemade card or gift in January. Perhaps you’ll have more time to create something over a Winter Break. And, to repeat what someone said earlier, the present never affects how I treat a child.
    Here’s to a little hibernation time for all!

  80. Parent of toddler in Montessori, east coast US.My son’s class parents just sent out a note yesterday that they are collecting $15 from each family who wishes to participate for a class gift of a credit card type gift card. That $15 will be distributed to the two teachers. Before I received the notice, I was planning to give $15 cash to each of the two teachers but now think I’d feel odd giving more than the $15 requested. I will use the $15 I’d planned to give to the after-care person. I wish I had the extra cash to bring in bagels for all the staff one day because that is nice, (and cheaper than lunch I think). That sounds like a great idea. Perhaps I could do that in January.
    I’m planning to give our 2x/month babysitter either $25 extra cash when she is with us this weekend or a $25 gas card,(I’m leaning towards the cash but it seems impersonal. I’ll write a nice note with it so I think that’ll help get the impersonal out.) I arrived at the $25 thinking about half a night’s pay. (Yes, we pay $10/hour and are typically out about four hours. But she is fantastic so I think the rate is worth it. I actually am rethinking and perhaps he “real” holiday present will be for me to work w/ my husband about how much to raise her hourly wage, perhaps to $11 or $12.)
    UPS delivery person? Some years I do, some don’t. Typically homemade cookies, not cash, but no time this year to bake.
    I’m also a teacher and honestly can say I appreciate the notes more than any gift. But, perhaps more families are in tune with what has been said here, because in the last few years I have gotten more and more terrific gift cards. I am delighted by $5 to a big coffee place or to a bookstore. When my son was an infant, I got several wonderful baby gifts and that was really nice; he still sleeps with one of the stuffed animals a student got him. The larger gifts are a wonderful surprise, (larger ones have been gcerts for manicures or $20 retail store or mall certif.), but I do feel a bit awkward. I am a subject teacher so my students have at least four other teachers in their day. I do not expect gifts since they do have so many teachers but are certainly delighted to receive them.
    Feel free to skip the knick-knack-y and candle items, but you should know that many teachers trade them with each other, regift, or put in a drawer. So if you’re thinking of whatever is near the checkout for about $5, please consider just a $5 book store gcert or even $3 cash. But if your life is hectic, take that stress out of the equation and do whatever works for you.
    I also think that parents can certainly cut themselves a little slack and give a homemade card or gift in January. Perhaps you’ll have more time to create something over a Winter Break. And, to repeat what someone said earlier, the present never affects how I treat a child.
    Here’s to a little hibernation time for all!

  81. @melia, absolutely give at your season of giving, or at an appropriate time in the school calendar (secular style).I’ve had more heartfelt responses from teachers and administrators when I’ve called or sent notes ‘outside the rush’. It’s one of the things I enjoy particularly, sending a thank-you at a time that is not a collective/cultural-reflex/’traditional’ thank-you time. I definitely get a grin out of surprising the administrator or teacher with a note of appreciation. I usually do so in response to the actual feelings – for example, after the first report cards at the NEW school came out, I sent a note of appreciation to the teachers and staff at the OLD school, expressing my gratitude for their collective efforts, and telling them how well Mr G did on the transition.
    Even our PTA-collected mid-year gifts are ‘at your discretion only’ in big letters. They do not keep records of who gave what, it is actually against their rules.
    So, don’t feel obliged by the cultural tradition. Give earlier, give later, or not at all. Do what is meaningful to you, and that will come through to the teacher.

  82. Our nanny started at the end of November, so we made the week between Christmas and New Year’s unpaid (but she gets 3 paid holidays). I’m happy to give her cash, but I am struggling with how much is appropriate- given the short time she works for us, and she *is* great.

  83. NYC suburbs, two under two at a NFP daycare, with 4 fulltime teachers (Two each). We’re doing $25 gift cards for each of the main teachers. My quandary is what to do for the handful of other teachers who have been special for us at various times this year. I suppose a $10 starbucks card with a meaningful thank you note can’t hurt.

  84. A – just as I posted my above, I realized I had another problem, which you echoed — how to tip/gift our babysitter who has a standing gig with us for one day a week? She started in September, has been great, but doubling her weekly pay seems extreme considering she’s literally only been at our house some 12 days for 2008. I’m considering adding an extra $50 to her pay (so something less than 1/2 of her normal pay) along with a thank you note/Christmas card. What do you think? A kind of pro-rated approoach>

  85. Melia, here in NYC I never think of it as Christmas gifts since half the kids in class seem to be Jewish or Buddhist or whatever. I always thought of it as “end-of-year” or New Year gifts.Anna, a few months ago I walked into my regular shop to get an eyebrow wax and the owner, who is male, waxed my eyebrows because everyone else was busy! I was stunned. And really happy I hadn’t needed a bikini wax right then…
    And I get your point about wanting to recognize in a “meaningful way.” I guess I don’t think of cookies or scented candles as a meaningful way. Even though I like scented candles in general. (Which is strange, because I never did while I was married. Go figure.)
    Mom2Boys, $215 a week?? That makes me want to cry.

  86. I’m a dead-broke, unemployed single mom whose son is in his first year at a private preschool, thanks to state-provided financial aid. The parent-run school board sent out a note a few days ago stating that “the Board hopes that each family will contribute $50 to purchase gift cards for the teachers.” I find that utterly offensive — $50 dollars is my budget for Christmas gifts for my entire family (including my son) this year, and while I can maybe contribute $5 or $10, I think it’s revolting and insensitive to ask for a specific amount. I hate @!#$ing Christmas.

  87. My little girl goes to an in-home place two afternoons a week, and I give the lady (who is on a very restricted diet for health reasons) something expensive she can eat (like avocados and almonds) and I overpay her more than usual (she charges less than five dollars an hour, which is unconscionable considering she is caring for my child); maybe a week’s pay extra or so. Plus I write her a nice card and give her a picture of my kid.

  88. My little guy’s not in daycare yet, but we are giving our favorite babysitter a Visa gift card. She’s graduating from college, so she can use the $30 (what she usually makes for a long evening of sitting for us…this is just like a bonus session as her gift) for food, shoes, bills, whatever. We are also giving her a cute framed picture of her with our son taken on Halloween.Last year, I gave my favorite NYC bus driver $20. (that was what we could afford at the time) I was massively pregnant and he always seemed to get stuck with me on his bus on my way to dr. appointments. He was always so sweet and asked how I was doing and made sure I got a seat and such.

  89. My 22-month-old goes to a toddler program at a local preschool–it’s one morning a week (75 minutes!), parent/caregiver stays with the child the whole time. There are two teachers in the room in addition to the parents. I’ve been debating what seems reasonable to give–thoughts? (This is in NYC, but not fancy NYC.)Also, we’ve had a babysitter two days/week for the month of December. Should I give her a gift too? Again, I’m inclined to say yes because she helped us out when we were in a tight spot and scrambling for care, but I think not as much as I’d tip a regular sitter, right?

  90. @Mar & electric lady – re: how/if to tip the new (young adult?) babysitter — I say YES to tipping if you possibly can afford it. (If you’ve ever seen the film “My Blue Heaven,” think of the scene where Vinnie is trying to tip a flight attendant & says “I tip EVERYBODY.” I like it…) If this is to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, then by all means, give the gift of green if you’re able. Like others have said, I think the right way is as a “bonus” payment (in cash or Visa Check Card) in the amount roughly equivalent to what s/he can expect to earn from you on a weekly basis. For us (in the small town NWest US), we pay our 15-year-old babysitter $5/hour per child, and she watches DS once per week. So we’ll hand her a cash bonus of $30 (a bit more than one night’s pay) on the last night of the year she’s going to be working for us, plus we’ll send her & her family a Christmas card with a loving note expressing our gratitude to her.I agree 100% with everything Moxie, sheSaid, & et al have said about “women’s work” and the stark gender inequities around income. In so many areas of life, we women are expected to give but not so much to get. We’re not supposed to be too ambitious (read: greedy) or show too much leadership (read: bossy). End rant.
    I wish we could all finally get over the feeling that cash gifts are “tacky.” The good news is that historically, the etiquette rules always evolve a bit around times of social & economic change, just as we are experiencing today. I wouldn’t be surprised if this cash = tacky nonsense goes away within the next 25 years. After all, just 25 years ago, gift registries were still considered by many to be tacky, but now most people employ them routinely. Pragmatism usually wins in the end.
    Many of the stores whose gift cards we’d like to give might not be in business this time next year. Cash is king, y’all! 😉

  91. Here’s my advice:If money is tight this year, skip the candles and lotion and instead, write a note or card — in addition to saying “thank you,” mention at least one thing that was memorable or special or appreciated about the teacher or the class.
    I’m a teacher and I have a special box where I keep all the cards students have written me. They are very important to me.

  92. Tis the season for this conversation. The moms at pickup were talking about it this afternoon and it was discussed at great length at the last parent-school meeting. In my DD preschool, the homeroom parent takes up a collection ($25 a kid was the suggestion given) and gives the teacher(s) an Amex/Visa gift card. Then, the indvidual families decide what, if anything, they will do themselves. I don’t want to give these women food or stuff they don’t want so I’m thinking a gift card from a bookstore (that’s what I do for our regular sitter).

  93. My son is 3 years old and goes to a private preschool in Westchester County, NY. The “class parents” (2 parents that volunteer to help out with certain duties during the year such as calling everyone in the event of a school closing– I was one of them) usually collect money from all of the parents for a class gift. Last year, we had 3 teachers and 11 students. We collected $30 from each child and purchased $100 Visa gift cards for each of the teachers, along with a small gift and card from the entire class. We are doing something similar this year.I highly recommend the Visa gift cards from TD Commerce Bank, as they do not charge a fee (Amex and most banks charge a fee of $5-$15 per card).

  94. Practically rural mid-atlantic, one child in a home day care 2-3 days a week. I will give the provider at least one week’s pay and more if I can swing it. My family is truly blessed to have found this woman and I cannot put into words how happy I am with the care she provides for our daughter.

  95. I personally think of a holiday gift as a little token of thoughtfulness, not as extra remuneration for duties. Not to sound snarky, but these people are paid a wage… granted it is an insufficient one in many situations, but an extra $50 or $100 from me isn’t going to close that gap. My approach is, sit on PTA committees and go to school board meetings (and vote) to change policy re: pay, etc. and at the holidays, give a little gifty something. I think baked goods are fine. When I have a party, I get way too many soaps and candles, too – oh well. At least I know my friends / guests were thinking of me. It is a gesture. For teachers, I normally do personalized notepads (www.thestationerystudio.com has a nice selection). Last year, my kid drew a cute portrait of her teacher, so I too a photo of it, uploaded the JPEG to Shutterfly and had a set of notecards made with it. (This is a great grandparent gift, too – photograph your kid’s art and make stuff on Shutterfly.) For mail carriers, milk man, etc. I do Starbucks cards. I long ago got over feeling like every present has to be perfect for every person (maybe my milkman hates Starbucks? sorry Jerry!) – it really is the thought, blah, blah, blah.

  96. mid-atlantic college town very near urban areas. 4 year old in ridiculously expensive daycare, but its next to the bus station and incredibly convenient to home.Last year I gave little homemade wheat breads and 10$ gift cards to the co-op/coffee shop 1/2 block away where many teachers go for a quick coffee. This year I may skip the bread (save sweets for my department’s admin staff who are helpful and I know love cookies), and just up the amount of the gift cards a bit. She has 3 teachers, 2 for most of the day and then another who comes in at nap time. I really don’t know what the other families do. I pay nearly an extra mortgage for 3 days a week (last year I paid as much as our former rent). I do try to give things throughout the year (notes, homemade jam when DD and I made it, etc).
    crud. I forgot the cook. there is a new one, just came a week ago, but my dd is one of the kids with food allergies so I always drop stuff off for the cook at the same time as the teachers. darnit.
    clearly I haven’t thought this all out yet.
    @melia–I’d go for the end of term. I was interested in your post. After watching SuperWhy on PBS this morning actually have Twas the Night Before Christmas as their book of the day–what are those kids who don’t have Santa coming to think? And the Jewish kids in DD’s dance class–are their parents weirded out by all the Nutcracker hubaloo?
    and do I need to give a gift to her dance teacher? its 1x a week for 45 minutes. And its also crazy expensive (and may get axed from the budget next year). I’m thinking she makes a decent amount doing it. but its also a job that I think would cost me heavy in extra booze on Saturday afternoon…
    btw (could I use more words?)–I usually give bread to the mail carrier sometime in Jan/Feb. I think they share it at the posta. At least I hope they do, we tend to rotate carriers and I’m never sure who is delivering the mail.

  97. Baltimore.For my daughter’s 2yo preschool class, the class mother sent out an email saying that she would collect money from anyone interested in participating and pool it together for gift cards for the teacher and her assistant. I had no idea how much to send, so I gave $30. I was so pleased that the class mother organized this.

  98. data point: San Francisco, one child, age 2.5, in small preschool 12 hrs/week (tuition = $10/hr); also nanny 8 hrs/week ($17/hr). Nanny also gets 24 hrs/year paid sick/vacation leave, and gets paid if we cancel with less than 24 hours notice – if kid is sick, etc.Preschool teacher: contributed to gift fund set up by another parent (suggested amt, $30) – got teacher a Flip video camera. Will write thank-you letter in holiday card.
    Nanny: $250 cash. Up until T. started school in Sept. she was doing 16 hrs/week, but she’s great, so we’ll do the same gift amt. as last year… it’s a lot, but seems fair.

  99. Rural area, mid-atlanticI’m kind of at a loss for this year. My girls are in middle school (public) and they each have 9 classes per day plus homeroom. Also, basketball coach, riding instructor, etc. We cannot afford gift cards/cash for all of these people. I’d like to single out some of their favorite teachers but feel that would be unfair.
    Any suggestions?

  100. I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I wanted to add that I saw some kind of fund/gift registry on the Heifer International site that parents had set up for their kids’ classroom teacher. I thought that was a great idea. I can’t remember the logistics of it but as a teacher I’d be ecstatic if my students my a donation to a charity in my honor.

  101. Silicon Valley, CA2 kids in co-op preschool (3 and 5)
    2 morning teachers (3yo), 1 afternoon teacher (5yo), 2 teenage sisters as babysitters ($5/hour/kid)
    I’m taking up a collection at school for the teachers — there are 40 kids in the AM class with two teachers (split over 3 half days of attendance per kid, 3 half days for one teacher, 2 half days for the other + director duties), and 24 kids in the PM class (there’s a second class, but I’m not part of that one). We’re a co-op so tuition is minimal ($105/month) with parents taking care of the janitorial, maintenance, etc. duties.
    This year I’ve put envelopes out for the parents to contribute cash for the holiday teacher gifts. The suggested amount is $5 or what you can afford — we’re discussing a Spa certificate or CSA (community supported agriculture fruit/veggie) box delivered to their homes for 3-4 weeks in the new year.
    At the end of the year we also do a collection for a small gift ($50-$100), plus a gift to the school (last year was a stereo system that was professionally installed in the “music room” by a participating parent at the school). I’m going to suggest MP3 players for the teachers at the end of the year — they can set up playlists of the songs that they like to use at the preschool and/or use them for personal music.
    As for the babysitters — since we have 3 kids we generally give each of them a $15 itunes card and a small gift. Last year it was a copy of the Daring Book for Girls as well as the itunes cards. We probably use the sitters once a month or so for a couple of hours, so it seems about right.
    The GC (Target for the gardeners & newspaper delivery person, Sal the mailman, Steve the UPS guy) I buy through the scrip program at our preschool, so it benefits the school as well!

  102. Pittsburgh, PA, one almost 2-year old in a daycare center 5 days a week; 3 teachers and 2 student teachersOur room teachers collect $ from everyone and distribute it among the teachers in cash. The minimum per family is $30 but we can give as much as we want. Therefore the teachers don’t know who gave more or less, and they get the cash.
    If families want to do additional gifts, the school asks that they be something tangible. I’m buying ceramic mugs, making knitted mug cozies for them and I’ll put packets of hot tea or starbucks cards in them. It’s a gift that would work for a man or a woman, and it is a useful item, so I don’t feel like it is just a trinket. 🙂

  103. We give our nanny of seven years a week’s pay as her Christmas bonus (plus she has Christmas week off). In our kids’ classes — in a public school in Westchester County, NY — the class parents collected $20 from each family for gifts for the teacher and assistant teacher. They typically purchase a gift certificate to a restaurant or book store with the $ collected. Our kids are in 2nd and 5th grades. For religious school I usually get the head teacher a $15 gift certificate to a book store and then $5 Starbucks gift cards to each of the 4-5 student helpers in each class.

  104. It’s also important to be aware of the kind of money your child’s teachers are making in the first place. I teach in a fancy-pants private school in Chicago, and I can tell you that if I taught public, I’d be making 15K over my current salary. Most teachers don’t get paid squat (there are exceptions, of course). Beware the “they make more than I do, I’m on financial aid” route.My point is that this year, I got an envelope with two $100 bills inside, and was able to buy Christmas presents for my entire family on that, when otherwise, my kids might have been getting the traditional “orange and a penny” in their stockings.
    Our school collects and distributes cash equitably, because the kindergarten and first grade teachers were making bank, and the middle school teachers were getting nothing most years. That’s just the nature of the beast – when you have one teacher, you can afford a $100 tip. 8 teachers? Not so much. We (and by we I mean the middle school teachers who otherwise got stiffed!) like the equitable distribution system very much.
    I just got a letter from my daughter’s preschool yesterday – they give you an envelope and you contribute anonymously. Easy enough, but I’m not sure what to do about younger daughter’s in-home daycare provider. I pay her $200 a week (everyone else there pays $250), but there’s no way in hell I can afford a tip like that. I’m thinking she’s getting $50 this year – if all the parents do it, she’ll get a decent tip that way.
    Still, I still have a huge folder full of the thoughtful, handwritten thank-you notes and letters I’ve gotten over the years – those mean just as much (almost as much!) as cash.

  105. @Jlyn, You mentioned feeling like it would be unfair to single out your daughter’s favorite teachers but I disagree. As a former middle school teacher, I think it’s nice to recognize a teacher or two who go the extra mile to make a special connection with your child (especially as kids get older and have so many teachers, many of whom kids don’t really connect with). I don’t think you should exclude the few who maybe your daughter thinks are outstanding just because you don’t have the money to give gifts to all of them. There are wonderful teachers, average teachers, and sometimes really crappy teachers out there. They don’t necessarily have to get equal gifts from you. Most of them don’t compare notes in the teacher’s lounge about these sorts of things (and frankly, the ones that do probably aren’t the kind who are going out of their way to help your child anyway!)Also, just to echo what some of the others have said, I always appreciated it when parents gave me cash. Some years I used it to pay my bills, which as practical as a gift card seems, it is not quite as wonderful as cash for that reason. Gift cards were great too, especially to someplace like Target or a bookstore (as an English teacher that was wonderful because I could buy things for the classroom). I cannot echo enough the sentiment about homemade notes or cards, though. If your child is at all old enough to participate in that process, don’t write the card for them. I have some TREASURES that former students have written to me that are priceless. So much nicer than a card in mommy handwriting, in my opinion. Oh and I had a student who gave me a book of stamps every year, inside a homemade card, and that was a great gift! Who doesn’t need stamps? The price point is relatively low and I always found it so much more useful than ANOTHER #1 Teacher mug.

  106. We grew up poor. I mean REALLY poor. Like way-below-the-poverty-line poor. So we never really had even $10 to give to teachers, much less the amounts described here.So my mom did something different.
    One year it was quilts – she got every kid in the class to trace their handprint using fabric crayons on muslin, quilted them all out, the whole 9 yards. With all the kids’ names in each of the handprints.
    Another year it was wreaths, with the kids decorating wood ornaments. Other years it was other stuff, but you get the idea.
    I ran into a couple of my teachers, maybe 6 months ago – it’s a small town, and it happens – both of them still have the items. The chocolates, the gift certificates are long gone (and I remember being SO jealous and wishing we could just give them something “normal”) but apparently nearly every one of them kept *all* of them – whole years of mom’s handiwork.
    I can’t guarantee that I’d give something that time consuming, but I think I’d rather give something like that and a $20 gift card that I can afford without hardship.

  107. Australian mum with a 2yo in centre day care. I’m a uni student who’s on an ok scholarship.I’m so grateful to the warm, wonderful women who look after my little guy. This is my first year with him in day care, and I wanted to do something nice but felt a bit funny about giving cash(plus there are 4regular staff and 3-4 regular fill-in staff). So I organised a massage therapist to come in for two hours over lunch break time and give each of them a 15-20 minute massage, plus i’ll be writing personal thank you notes.

  108. I am so impressed by the generosity of the posters here. Over on WSJ’s blog, “The Juggle”, people frequently express hostility towards teachers and nannies. The talk about how teachers are paid “professional” salaries and shouldn’t get rewarded for doing their job, or that they shouldn’t expect “tips” as if teachers are lining up with outstretched hands!I’m so glad I read these posts. I feel better now.
    On a separate note, as a part-time ballet teacher who works (count ’em) 4 jobs to make ends meet, EVERYTHING is appreciated. One family gave me a restaurant gift certificate; their gift allowed DBF and I to have the only date we’d had in months! But those thank-you cards from students and parents, (esp. if given to the boss as well) are what I really cherish and save.

  109. We live in East Asia and a cash gift is not only accepted it is expected by all employees at Chinese New Year equal to one month’s salary. We have an in-home care provider(/language instructor) for 9 hours a week for our two children aged 1 and 3 and give a month’s salary each New Year to our fabulous caregiver.

  110. @melia: When I was in school instead of giving teachers Christmas presents or end-of-year-tips or whatever you want to call it, my mother baked chocolate cookies for Valentine’s Day. I gave those, along with a handwritten card, to my favorite teachers, coaches, etc. My mother figured there were enough presents and such given at the end of the year, but by February everyone could use a little appreciation.I do a lot of holiday baking and that’s my present to those I want to thank and appreciate. Instead of giving my boss and coworkers each a present, I schedule a “cookie break” and bring in a big plate of homemade treats into work to share. No, it’s not as personal, but it’s a brief time to socialize and enjoy a cookie in an otherwise hectic day. (Besides, none of my coworkers bake so they’re all too happy to eat homemade goodies!)

  111. Southeast, public schools, well-to-do district. Three kids in grade school. In K-3, each classroom has two adults: teacher and teaching assistant.We’ve always given gift cards, for $20 a piece. But, oftentimes the classroom parent will organize a combined gift card, and then I send in the amount to her/him.
    I prefer the joint class card, because the rule so far has been that all children get to sign the gift card, regardless of whether their parents can pay. In the abstract, I can see where this could anger the big contributors — of which we’re obviously not one — but personally I’m glad that all kids, regardless of financial circumstances, get to feel as if they’ve participated.
    I also have the kids make thank-you pictures — a drawing of something they enjoy doing with each teacher, with a note now about what they like — and then I frame those. That’s a personal bias — I can always use new versions of 5×7 frames myself, so I figure other people do, too.

  112. nyc, but not manhattan- pnut (3.5) goes to a nursery/preschool 3x a week that is run by a non-profit national org that has an early childhood center. (think four capital letters that also teaches swimming…)i’ll be giving her two teachers visa gift cards, maybe 30-40 bucks each? money is getting tighter since my husband has had to scale back his physical work where he is usually getting his *own* holiday tips which we in turn give away to those whose service we use, and of course for our own holiday giving. but i just can’t imagine cutting back where they are concerned- i can’t imagine they are paid super well. and oh my god, my kid freakin loves school, and that is something no amount of money can say thank you enough. maybe i’ll go 50. argh.
    can i ask if any of you do gifts for classmates? i’m afraid of getting sideswiped when the time comes. datapoint- the kids in her class come from the whole range of social classes- from kids who get gov’t assistance to middle class. i was thinking a colored card from pnut with some crayons and a small coloring book?

  113. moxie- mta bus or private bus? i’d throw some cash in a card that elc made that said thanks and happy holidays, probably either way. and nothing says thanks like a dunkin donuts gift card!

  114. Only have a minute, so my quick 2 cents as a former teacher:-To me, cash would have felt kind of weird, like a tip or something.
    -I hardly ever ate any baked goods that I received, because I always pictured that small chance that the kid was helping and picking his nose or something in the process (hey, just keepin’ it real here!)
    -My favorite was always a card with a nice note from the parents (with specifics!) and a drawing or something from the student that they had obviously taken some time on.

  115. Boston suburbs. Daycare/Preschool – PreK. I have 3 Kids in 2 classes. There’s about 6 teachers including the director that take care of my kids throughout the day. About 10 of the moms from our daycare have all become friends (we do Girls Night Out and B-day Parties and Playdates).We all joined together, tallied the amounts that we wanted to give to each teacher on a spreadsheet and then we’re giving Target gift cards (with the sum total amounts) to each teacher. Most of us are giving $10-$20 per teacher. We’re also making a Photo Collage Card of each family’s holiday photo to accompany the gift card.
    It was a big hit last year. Makes a more significant/useful gift that they can actually get something they want/need (rather than more clutter/chotschkes.)

  116. I see what you’re saying. Teachers and daycare providers must get so many “little cute” gifts that, really, are not useful. Nice, but not too useful.Maybe you could consider also a nice gift card to a restaurant that you’ve heard them mention they like, or their favorite store.

  117. @melia: I can tell that this is pretty stressful for you and your family, and it really just sucks. I’m sorry.I do think, though, that there are no *expectations* (by reasonable people) of tipping/rewarding at this time of year. At least not from where I’m standing. It has always seemed to me like something that you do if, and only if, you feel compelled to. There are certainly people out there who will look down on those of us who don’t do certain things a certain way, but at the end of the day, who cares? Those people aren’t my best friends, and they definitely aren’t my kid’s teachers – I don’t believe my daughter’s teachers would treat me or her differently if we did nothing more than wish them a happy holiday when I know they’re preparing to celebrate. If I *did* believe that, it would signal a larger problem with the relationship.
    If you are inclined to give at special times, have you thought about doing something to show your appreciation around your holidays? It might be a cool way to recognize their hard work (whoever “they” might be for you) and inform them that the special times of year for your family aren’t Christmas/Channukah/Passover/Easter/Rosh Hashanah.
    I have also read the articles recommending what seem to me to be huge gifts around the holidays. In addition, I have read the articles that tell me I need to teach my 12 month old daughter to sign. I have done neither! Whatever! They’re trying to sell magazines and newspapers! Gifting is always about wanting to show appreciation or love or something similar, if that’s what you want it to be about. It’s not necessary to follow the posted guidelines.
    I don’t think your child will be the “odd one out”. My guess is that teachers who would treat their charges differently based on the giving behavior of the parents are rare, and indicate a larger problem, like I said before.

  118. We give $100 gift cards to Target and hand-written note of gratitude for each of my son’s pre-school teachers (3). That total ($300) works out to about 25% of our monthly tuition. (We live in Madison , WI).I feel my son’s teachers are incredible professionals who are pretty underpaid for the yeoman’s duties they perform each day. They are the reason I’m able to keep all the plates spinning, day after day. He’s happy and thriving there, and if he’s happy, I’m happy –and happy to let his teachers know as well.
    this still represents a pretty significant hit for us, so we’ve been careful to budget for it, but it’s important to me and thus i make it a priority. i will also admit that it’s probably easier for us b/c we only have one child currently, and we’re both employed FT—this may all change if our family grows or our employment shrinks. reading some of these posts. . .my thoughts and prayers to all of you struggling right now. you’re all doing the best you can, and i would say, don’t feel bad about a note or cookies or any gesture-they’re all authentic and thoughtful.

  119. In Denver, giving Target gift cards to the three teachers in my 1 y.o.’s room.On this subject – I wonder if there are times when sending a note describing a person’s stellar job to that person’s boss might also be worthwhile. I’m thinking of Moxie’s bus driver – perhaps such a note would be put in his personnel file and then reviewed when raise time comes. I mean this in addition to thanking a person directly, not instead of.

  120. My daughter is at a daycare center (she’s 18 months old). I gave her 4 teachers a gift of $50 each when she transitioned out of the first classroom to thank them for helping both of us adjust to daycare and showing her such love and care. She just transitioned to the 3rd classroom, so I’m giving another round of $50 to her 2nd classroom teachers as a thank you, and $25 to her “new” teachers for the holidays.I thought a while on the cash idea, thinking of maybe getting a gift certificate to the cafe next door, where the teachers usually go for lunch, or a gift card. In the end, I’d rather them use the money however they feel they need/want to, whether it’s lunch or shoes or rent. I know several of them work 2 jobs (probably more). I don’t live in an easy city to afford and they aren’t making much above minimum wage.
    I LOVE the idea of bagels and cream cheese and should talk to the cafe about delivering that to all the teachers next week. Supporting small, local businesses and saying thanks to all the teachers – win, win!

  121. Is anyone else from the South? I know everything is less expensive here, but I’m almost throwing up thinking about the Huge amounts being given.My 4 year old is at home, so we don’t have any teachers. We’re only talking about her ballet teacher, who will get a nice card and a picture drawn by the bear.
    (Is she expecting/hoping for a gift/bonus?)
    And the super sweet lady at the post office who always has candy for the kids. She will probably love a handmade card too.
    ( Am I just cheap? )

  122. Melia, I am so with you. We’re Jewish, and Hanukah is NOT the Jewish Christmas. It’s a relatively minor holiday. I once knew a doctor in private practice who gave his employees wine and bonuses at Rosh Hashanah, and made it clear there would be no additional secular year-end gifts. I haven’t worked up the guts to do that for the teachers yet, but one day I will.Meantime, I go with Big Bookstore gift cards, $25/each plus flowers.

  123. 3 1/2 yr old twins, live-out nanny in So Cal. It is “industry norm” to do a week/2 week (I have to look back last year to refresh my memory if it was 1 or 2 weeks) salary bonus each year-end. I do that as part of the nanny’s pay, don’t really think of it as a thank you or even holiday thing, per se. I think of that as something I signed up for when we went the nanny route.In addition as more of a ture holiday gift, we try to find a more “thoughtful” personal gift to give – last year we got her a $200 gift certificate the LA Phil so she and her BF could choose a show of their liking. This year, since times are much tougher financially for my family, I have a great picture of her and one my boys… I got that printed and framed and then I’m going to get her a Foodie game.

  124. Nutmeg- Do our kids go to the same center? It is $$$, but totally worth the money since they love my kid and take great care of her.Chicago burbs here, enormous daycare center, 1 child in care, 2+ years old. Parent rep does a collection for each age/wing of the center, then divides money between teachers as some sort of gift certificate I think, maybe a Visa card. I’m not sure what we’ll contribute. There are 5 teachers this year. We might also get something for her 1 or 2 primary teachers.
    I get a bonus through work, and the center is onsite, but I think the teachers are contractors, so not eligible. I should ask.

  125. We are in a major city in the South East, our 2 yo is in a regional chain daycare. He just moved from the 18-24 month class last month, so we’ll probably give gifts to the 2 main teachers in both rooms (so that’s 4 teachers) along with the 3-5 other part time teachers/helpers. We normally give gift cards to Walmart or Target between $10-25, depending upon our budget, and always include a hand written note and a photo.I wish we could give them more. We do try to drop off bagels and cream cheese twice a year for the whole staff since everyone has a hand in taking care of (and loving) every child there.

  126. Ann, it’s not just you. Some of these numbers shock me, but I think it’s a good kind of shock.We were going to give our DCP $100, but she is basically getting 2 weeks off (which she wholly deserves), and we are very concerned about our jobs right now, so I am thinking $50 and a very nice card.

  127. So nice to see all the former & current HS English teachers around here!Those detail-laden thank you notes are that much more appreciated when they are cc’d to the principal/supervisor. School administrators often only hear the bad stuff, so it’s refreshing for them to get good news about a teacher for a change. Whenever I got one, I always photocopied it and sent it on to my boss, or forwarded it if over email.
    And though I’m not in the position at this time, if I were the only or one of a few direct sources of income for an individual, I would pay the equivalent to an extra payment/paycheck as a holiday “bonus.” Anyone caring for my child couldn’t possibly be paid too much! I think it’s important to show our respect for the job(s) people do using the language our culture understands best — cash. I love that many of you pay extra throughout the year for daycare/preschool teachers who make a living wage and have professional benefits. When it’s my turn to choose, I will do likewise.
    FWIW, any homemade food gifts from students always went straight into the trash. You just never know.

  128. Oh man, I wish I could afford to give our son’s playschool teachers $100 each. He goes two afternoons a week and it is free. The women are amazing and my son adores them. We just can’t afford it. I don’t even know if we can afford the $20 I was thinking (and even then, does that look cheap?).I made loads of jam this summer and my husband suggested giving them each a jar, but I don’t want to if there is a chance they’ll just throw it out.
    I’m definitely going to give them each a card with a personal note thanking them.
    Why does money always have to be an issue?! Argh!
    Oh, and data point, northern Canadian city, poor neighbourhood, 1 toddler in free play school.

  129. We’ve done Borders and gas cards (during the height of the gas cost this summer, to the gas station across the street from the school) with my son’s school so far, and to my surprise the Borders cards got a much warmer reception. So Borders cards again for each of 6 preschool teachers this year.I give the same amount to the director and teachers. I figure the teachers (and at my son’s old school, aides) make less and work at least as hard, plus end up doing the jobs like diaper changes and cleaning.

  130. I am a Montessori teacher at a private, non-profit school in Ohio. Although the tuition at my school is fairly steep, the teachers (many have masters degrees and all have bachelors degrees as well as specialized Montessori training… and the student loan bills that go with all of them) are paid quite modestly. In the decade that I have been teaching the gifts I’ve most appreciated have been 1. personal and specific notes, letters and emails of appreciation, 2. cash or gift cards. With that said, I appreciate each and every gift no matter the monetary value.

  131. Does anyone else have a (private) school asking for ‘holiday’ AND end-of-year gift $ from parents? The administration asks a parent from each class to coordinate, but the PTA is non-existent b/c the admin tried to take it over a few years ago, and the parents gave up.3 kids in the school. Younger 2 have 2 teachers each, oldest has 4. They’re asking $10/teacher. We’re already paying full tuition. So that’s a requested $80 now, and another $80 in June. And there are some larger families with 5 or 6 kids in school. The preschool kids can have 3 teachers. It adds up. Anyone with big families shelling out big for holiday gifts?
    That sounds like small peanuts compared to what some of you guys are giving, but for all that it adds up per teacher while not being so much from one family, it irks me that the school is basically collecting.
    I bought a page-a-day calendar for my dd’s English teacher (oldest had her 2 years, everyone loves her) because I know it’s right up her alley.

  132. I think about how many teachers end up using their own salary to pay for a lot of things that are in their classroom. Yes most are given a stipend every year to buy things but it doesn’t cover all that much. I rarely like to give cash as a rule but I think in the case of teachers I sort of feel like it is the best to say, “thanks for pouring all of your energy into the kids.” So maybe some cash for the teacher (so they can buy something nice for themselves or pay the water bill and be able to breathe a litle easier) and also ask the teacher if there is something they would like within the class. More books? More craft stuff?

  133. 1 6 year old in public first grade1 2 year old in JCC daycare
    in Allentown, PA
    JCC PTO sent a letter suggesting $20-40/child to be divided equally among all the teachers and staff. I sent $50. There are a LOT of staff that J sees over the course of the day (they bring multiple ages together at the end of the day in one room), so this didn’t really feel like enough to me, but I felt strange going too much higher than the suggestion (it felt like showing off).
    Public school room mother suggested $10-20 for a class gift. I sent $30, along with a personal note by me and my son to be included with the gift (Target and a restaurant gift cards; PTO had asked teachers what their favorites were).
    Last year, for Montessori school, we were asked to contribute whatever we wanted toward gift cards in equal amounts for all teachers. I think I gave $100.
    When my kids were younger in daycare, I gave around $75 in a gift card to the head teacher and around $50 to the assistant teacher, and brought in candy or cookies for the rest of the staff. I also wrote VERY mushy notes, especially when each child “graduated” rooms and when they left the center.
    I do feel funny giving money – it feels classist to me. On the other hand, I truly appreciate the hard work our caregivers and teachers do, and I want them to know that.

  134. I’ve collected digital pictures of all of the kids in my daughter’s PreK class and made a calendar using iPhoto. Each of the 4 teachers will get a calendar, as well as the director and another administrator teacher.Several parents have contributed money, which covers the calendar and it looks like this year we’ll give each of the teachers a $100 AmEx card.
    I also try to get a little personal gift from my daughter to the director, and one teacher that she has particular affection for.

  135. I am a public school teacher (in Canada). I do not expect gifts and I encourage my class to donate to charity instead of exchanging gifts. We have donated to UNICEF and World Vision. Although I appreciate the thought behind mugs, candles, etc., I can’t possibly use them all. I do not expect money or gift cards although they are appreciated because I do use them and I do spend a lot of my own money on resources and activities for my classroom ($1000s per year on books and PD, $150 yesterday to make 30 gingerbread houses in my class). I also like a nice bottle of wine although I realize that may seem like an inappropriate gift from a child. Homemade cards, sincere thanks, and baked goods are really loved.

  136. I love that people are promoting the mindset of giving teachers actual tips rather than soap or candles. Moxie, what you say is right on.I want to put in a vote for cash over a gift card to Target or some other big corporate chain store.

  137. I love that people are promoting the mindset of giving teachers actual tips rather than soap or candles. Moxie, what you say is right on.I want to put in a vote for cash over a gift card to Target or some other big corporate chain store.

  138. Chapel Hill, NCPreschool teacher w/ one in daycare
    Daughter picked out gift (silver necklace) herself. Because I work at the same place, I know the salary sucks but because I work at the same place, we can’t afford to give expensive gifts, though the tuition would imply we’d be paid better. As far as pay goes, we do continue to receive checks when the center is closed BUT we are salaried, so we aren’t really paid for the holidays, our pay is just stretched- as is most who work in education.
    Really, the best gift for me would be to know that the mom who drives me batty and complains every day and calls three times a day appreciates that I’m patient and understanding and caring towards her not-so-angelic son. I don’t want a bonus or a thoughtless pre-packaged factory gift…I want to know that for putting up with her, she appreciates the work I do in the nine hours I spend with her kid.

  139. just a quick plug that I do *not* throw away homemade food items from students! I may not eat all of it for diet reasons but I don’t think it is yucky in any way. Just wanted to put that in there for anyone who may be rethinking giving something homemade. Don’t worry about it… do what comes from your heart or makes sense for you.I just bought all the teacher gifts for my son today. I contributed the requested amt ($15) for his two classroom teachers and for the four other teachers he sees, (including the office manager who is so helpful and caring), a $10 gift card from a national clothing-home goods-handbags-shoes-etc store (rhymes with rolls) that has a local store. I will enclose the cards in with the photocards I just ordered from sn*pf*sh and include a heartfelt thank you. I wish I could have given more than those amounts but that is all I can do right now.

  140. just a quick plug that I do *not* throw away homemade food items from students! I may not eat all of it for diet reasons but I don’t think it is yucky in any way. Just wanted to put that in there for anyone who may be rethinking giving something homemade. Don’t worry about it… do what comes from your heart or makes sense for you.I just bought all the teacher gifts for my son today. I contributed the requested amt ($15) for his two classroom teachers and for the four other teachers he sees, (including the office manager who is so helpful and caring), a $10 gift card from a national clothing-home goods-handbags-shoes-etc store (rhymes with rolls) that has a local store. I will enclose the cards in with the photocards I just ordered from sn*pf*sh and include a heartfelt thank you. I wish I could have given more than those amounts but that is all I can do right now.

  141. just a quick plug that I do *not* throw away homemade food items from students! I may not eat all of it for diet reasons but I don’t think it is yucky in any way. Just wanted to put that in there for anyone who may be rethinking giving something homemade. Don’t worry about it… do what comes from your heart or makes sense for you.I just bought all the teacher gifts for my son today. I contributed the requested amt ($15) for his two classroom teachers and for the four other teachers he sees, (including the office manager who is so helpful and caring), a $10 gift card from a national clothing-home goods-handbags-shoes-etc store (rhymes with rolls) that has a local store. I will enclose the cards in with the photocards I just ordered from sn*pf*sh and include a heartfelt thank you. I wish I could have given more than those amounts but that is all I can do right now.

  142. Oh, one more thing… a poster mentioned about end of year gifts, too. Yes, I will give those, too, but those might be homemade goodies or an organized bagel breakfast for staff on one of their staff development days.As a teacher I probably receive about half of the end-of-year gifts as I do in December. And that is completely fine. I’m just giving a data point. (End of year is typically when I get those wonderful, detailed thank you letters that I certainly save.) But that doesn’t really make sense to me; I don’t think gift-giving should be mandated to December. It seems logical to me to wait until the end of the school year for all gifts but that would really be swimming upstream…

  143. Oh, one more thing… a poster mentioned about end of year gifts, too. Yes, I will give those, too, but those might be homemade goodies or an organized bagel breakfast for staff on one of their staff development days.As a teacher I probably receive about half of the end-of-year gifts as I do in December. And that is completely fine. I’m just giving a data point. (End of year is typically when I get those wonderful, detailed thank you letters that I certainly save.) But that doesn’t really make sense to me; I don’t think gift-giving should be mandated to December. It seems logical to me to wait until the end of the school year for all gifts but that would really be swimming upstream…

  144. Oh, one more thing… a poster mentioned about end of year gifts, too. Yes, I will give those, too, but those might be homemade goodies or an organized bagel breakfast for staff on one of their staff development days.As a teacher I probably receive about half of the end-of-year gifts as I do in December. And that is completely fine. I’m just giving a data point. (End of year is typically when I get those wonderful, detailed thank you letters that I certainly save.) But that doesn’t really make sense to me; I don’t think gift-giving should be mandated to December. It seems logical to me to wait until the end of the school year for all gifts but that would really be swimming upstream…

  145. I am a teacher. I’ll tell you what your child’s teacher might not: Keep the scented candle/drug store perfume/Bath and Body Works gift basket. And, please, we all have enough coffee mugs. Give your child’s teacher a gift card (even in a small denomination; if I got 20 $10 Barnes and Noble gift cards…) Or simply have your child make a card or write a thank you letter that shows care and thought. I save all those cards and letters and they do mean a lot. Way more than the “Teachers Touch The Future” ceramic wall hanging.

  146. I quickly tire of expectations associated with gift-giving. I think expectations, rules, guidelines, etc. are counter to the notion of a gift.Colorado suburban area – two sons: 4 years old; 16 months old. I am a single adoptive parent of meager means facing layoff on 12/23, public assistance for food, health care, etc. thereafter. I don’t have a dime to spare, but I believe in and highly value expressions of genuine gratitude. At different times during the year (not on a birthday or major holiday), we surprise her with flowers and a note, mail her a card with a dinner invitation, leave a handmade gift on her doorstep to discover but not know where it came from, etc. She is INVALUABLE and no token will ever match what she gives to/does for our family, but it’s fun to light her up with such gestures. Our gifts are heartfelt tokens. She knows that, we know that and there is no pretense.
    Last year for Christmas, my son did a finger painting and I helped him wrap it around a plastic container. We filled the container with freshly ground coffee (which he helped to grind). She drinks coffee all day…
    He was so proud to present her with the gift. She made a big deal about it and uses it daily and he beams knowing this.
    I’ve worked for public agencies most of my career and I’ve never received (or expected) a bonus…
    This year, my oldest is in preschool and there is his main teacher, an assistant teacher, and director who are directly involved with his care for 6 hours/week.
    I’ve been contacted by several other parents by email wanting to do a gift pool. I don’t have the resources or interest in participating. I’m all for expressing gratitude, I just don’t want to get sucked into one more way our society values THINGS and MONEY more than relationships.
    Oh, what to do!?

  147. when we had a regular part-time nanny (10 hours/wk), we gave her a large sum in cash ($100) plus a small gift (local gourmet chocolates). the total value was $120, her typical weekly pay. that seemed right to me – she was doing an excellent job, we couldn’t afford to pay her a higher rate but wanted to let her know that we really appreciated her time and hard work. (we also wrote her a note to that effect.)we still hire her occasionally as a babysitter, so this time we rounded up a bit on her most recent night with us, and also gave her a $20 gift card to a local dessert place, a framed preschool photo of our daughter (who she truly adores) and a painting that our daughter did at school. it was definitely a less valuable gift, but times are a little tighter, and we tried to be thoughtful in thinking about things she might actually like to have/use.
    now we’re at a day care center, and i confess that i was planning to give a thank you note and a couple of small handmade soaps and washclothes or towels or something… but after reading all these comments i realized that maybe it would be nice to add a small gift card, especially for her “room” teacher. i think we’ll also do something small for the director. it’s a small place so i’ll feel a little guilty not doing something for all of the teachers (since they do help out in each others’ rooms quite a bit) but we don’t know all of them personally and honestly can’t afford to do a gift for everyone.
    i’m in san diego, at a small local daycare center/preschool.

  148. AustraliaBeen reading with interest the different views. Have working child care /education for 15 years as unqualified assistant and teacher in schools.
    I dislike all the fluffy candles, stuffed toys, mugs etc and tend to either throw out straight away or donate to charity. I also dislike unhealthy biscuits, chocolates etc at this time of year. You get so many of them it is difficuot to accept graciously, although you do of course, especially when the child brings it to you all excited!
    I also have to say flowers are a nice gesture, they are also good as they decorate the room leading up to the end of the year and then wilt and can be thrown out naturally without the associated guilt of throwing out the assorted candles, mugs, chocolates etc.
    Gifts I have appreciated also include good quality hand cream, wine and gift cards to ‘nice- ish’ shops / department stores.
    I would feel a bit insulted if I received cash or a gift card to Target or a supermarket. Then again tipping is not so big in Australia.

  149. Midwest College TownPrivate Montessori School- Toddler Program
    We have given cash the two years we’ve attended this school. My Mom is a teacher and I remember the years of opening gift after gift of mugs, soap, jewelry, etc. The PTSA collects the funds and they distribute it according to the amount of time worked (full-time, part-time, etc.)
    I’ve gotten feedback from one teacher that it was MUCH appreciated. I also try to write personal notes to all of the teachers, althought I bagged out on that this year.

  150. one way is to look up TOEFL cosures, I took one 5 week cosure in Costa Rica, but you can get them here in the US too. when you look up websites for these you will see TONS of places around the world hiring english teachers, it helps to have some college under your belt too, even if its just an associates degree.another way to see the world is join the military air force or Navy (I don’t recommend army or marine corp) as they camp a lot but with the navy and air force you will always have a/c and internet and hot showers.flight attendants travel, do some research on what airlines are international, but the pay isn’t very good.also while in college, study abroad that is a good way to travel too.

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