Gift Givers, I need your help!

Posted on | December 16, 2010 | 18 Comments

I need help.

After typing that I realized it’s true in like a bazillion areas of my life. But the area I’m focusing on now is J’s pre-school and in particular, his pre-school teachers’ gifts for the holidays. I want to get something for them because, let’s face it, they have a tough gig. They watch over seven toddlers for 8+ hours of their day… that’s like taking a job as Kate Gosselin’s nanny… only all the kids are the same age. *shudder*

So I want to do something nice for them but my finances are…. limited… and I don’t want to get them something they won’t use. I’ve debated a Target gift card because, well, who doesn’t like Target, but then I waffle, thinking it’s too impersonal and kind of rote. I mean, dont’ get me wrong, I LOVE gift cards… but it just feels like I should get them a gift card to a personal store or something. I don’t know.

So here’s the thing: I need help. What do I get them? One of his teachers has a son and the other does not. They are both young; one is 23 and the other is 27. I like them both a lot and they take very good care of the bambino when I have to do my whole work thing. And on top of that, I really like the center director because she pulled strings to get J into the center to help me out when I was struggling with the move and starting my new job. So do I get her something, too?

Help me. Please!  (oh and please note, I said my finances are limited, so I’d love some ideas on how much is appropriate to spend, too!)


18 Responses to “Gift Givers, I need your help!”

  1. Heather
    December 16th, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    Ha, I was going through the same debate. The funny thing is I didn't think I had to spend THAT much money because, you know, they *are* getting paid to do this — so I originally picked out these little $10-15 gift thingies from Bath & Body Works.

    My mom then said "NO! You have to spend a lot more money!" I started probing around and some people give in the $25-50 range, and some people spent as much as $100 on the head teacher, and $50 on the other teachers. You have GOT to be kidding me. I'm trying to show appreciation, not bribe them…

    Anyways, I settled on a $50 gift card to Macy's for the head teacher, and $35 for the 2 other girls who are in the room. I kept 2 of this dingies I got form Bath & Body works that I may give to the 2 girls that "close" the room at the end of the day, since they probably deal with Rebecca at her crankiest. It kind of adds up, money-wise, but thankfully it won't kill our budget.

    But for everyone, I decided I am going to make a hand-print with Rebecca, and write a simple note next to it that says "Dear , Thank you for taking such good care of me! Love, Rebecca".

    The way I see it, the $$ is the gift part (and I chose Macy's as opposed to generic American Express because I'd like them to actually buy something they like with it, not just groceries or gas or something), and the hand-print is the personal touch. They can keep it or throw it out, but I think it will be meaningful.

  2. amy
    December 16th, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

    i usually spend 10 bucks a teacher, and its always a gift card to a local store (like a local coffeeshop, wine shop, bookshop etc.) and include a note about how thankful we are for them!

  3. LA @The Reel Family
    December 16th, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    First I would totally get something for the director. I got our teachers for PDO Williams sonoma kitchen candles. The olive oil one smells really fresh and isn't strong enough to smell bad. I put it in a basket with a few small things like some tea etc. They all said they loved it. It was very budget friendly but I felt a bit more personal. Hope that helps!

  4. Shelley
    December 16th, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    There are a total of 14 teachers and aides (including the owner and the director) at my daughters pre-school. I bought each and every one of them a $5 Starbucks gift card. Then for my daughters teacher I bought her a Scentsy candle warmer and two Scentsy bricks. The warmer is teacher themed. I spent like $30 on her. I think you can order Scentsy by December 18th to ensure pre-Christmas delivery.

    Last year I bought the teachers stuff from Tastefully Simple.

  5. ~*Jess*~
    December 16th, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

    Holy crap I feel cheap now. But, for Ava's teachers they had a favorites list. I worked with that. For one, I bought a very modest bottle of red wine (it was on sale at World Market) and some fantastic dark chocolate almonds (all on her list). The other liked flavored coffees and voila. And more chocolate.

    I think that with a heartfelt note is more than enough. For her after school care (both are in college) I just did $10 gift cards. Being at a private school I'm sure some parents probably bought them new cars (kidding) but that's what I could do.

  6. Sarah
    December 16th, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

    I had planned on baking banana bread for each of her teachers and the ladies that close her room down.

    For her main teacher, I figured I would get her a gift card. Maybe to Belk?

  7. laura
    December 16th, 2010 @ 2:08 pm
    suggest a group thing like she had at the end, or buy little etsy things like she was going to at the beginging?

  8. Sam
    December 16th, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    Our situation is a little different since we use an in-home small daycare. I'm giving $150 "bonus", which is 15% of the monthly fee (I read that number on some message boards). Then a hand-made clay Xmas ornament with my sons picture on one side and his hand print on the other.

    But like I said, our situation is different because it's privately owned with only one "worker". If I were you I would probably get something like Starbucks or Target gift card in an amount that you are comfortable with and a nice note or something made by J, and then something small for the director.

  9. Tyler-Ashlee's Mommy
    December 16th, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

    This is what I did (we do about $40 per person, except the teachers at my son's school since they split them up we do $20 each)

  10. Anonymous
    December 16th, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

    As a teacher, I can tell you I have more mugs, candles, and magnets than I can ever use. Gift cards to places like Target, Barnes/noble, or local craft stores are really nice. I use them to offset out of pocket expenses for classroom projects/activities. Parents often don't realize how much teachers spend to make instruction more meaningful and fun. If you're not comfy with giftcards, then I suggest games, books, craft supplies that can be used in the classroom.

  11. Elizabeth Phillips
    December 16th, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    You have rich readers. Except for me. Here's what we've done, and it should also be noted that the person who came up with this idea (me) is a former preschool teacher. Get a list of the emails of the other kids' parents. Then you pool your money and get gift cards to say Outback or perhaps Target. Trust me, as a teacher, one has no need for a dozen mugs of Russian tea, homemade ornaments of someone else's kid, or bath salts. Seriously. We did that for H and were able to pool our money and get the lead $60 to Outback and the helper $50 to Walmart. (His helper is a former lost girl of Sudan who needs necessities more than a date with her husband, hence the different gifts).

  12. Caroline
    December 16th, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

    I second anonymous. As a teacher, we really, really don't need something else apple-themed, or a candle. And while gift baskets from Bath and Body Works are nice, do you know the teacher well enough to know what her favorite scent is? Honestly, gift cards are ALWAYS your best bet. I would personally go with a plain old Visa/MC so they could spend it wherever they want. I personally hate coffee so Starbucks? Useless… Target? Generally good, unless she has some aversion to it.

    And you really don't have to go overboard with it. $10-$15 is just as appreciated as $25 or more. The sheer fact that you acknowledged that this teacher is an important person in your son's life is enough.

  13. Erin
    December 16th, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    Holy Hannah Montana!!!

    I am a cheap-o…I gave them cookies – and lottery tix. I guess I'll have to dig deeper this year….but honestly –

    i have three kids – 2 teachers each – and a directer (who I LOVE!)

    I pay just a little more than my mortgage each month in childcare costs…so….

    I myself am a teacher(HS) – gifts are LOVELY, but for me it really is the thought that counts…just a thank you is more than we could ever ask for – I have a scrapbook of my favorite cards and pics from students over the years.

    this is just my $.02 and MAN – I hope someday I have the children of your readers in my classroom:) ha ha ha

  14. Dre
    December 16th, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

    My MIL was a former teacher so she makes sure I do something for each teacher, aide and director/assistant in the whole preschool. So that was 11 people this year since I have two kids there.

    As she knows we don't have much money, my MIL helped out with some of this: for each person we bought a Christmas mug from Khols (on sale for $4 and really cute), filled them with Hershey's kisses and a candy cane along with a $5 gift card to a local coffee store (that has treats and hot chocolate and smoothies for the non-coffee drinkers).

    I wrapped the whole thing with cellophane (basket wrap) and tied it with a ribbon with a gift tag from the kids. I was up until 1am doing this last night, but it was worth it to watch my 4 year old's face as he hand delivered each present with a huge grin and a "Merry Christmas."

    Some years she has found cute little candy dishes at target for cheap and I filled those with candy. I figure who doesn't like candy. And they can always regift or bring it to a party with them.

    Seriously, I think it is the thought that counts. Last year I gave a $50 gift card to the nanny who watched our baby at home. A bit pricey but I love her and I knew she needed things for her new apartment. This year, I don't think we can afford to be as generous.

  15. Jennifer
    December 16th, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

    This year I got a gift for my daughter's kindergarten teacher and my son's daycare "teacher". Before I've purchased for more of the workers at the daycare, but this year I wasn't feeling it. Anyway…

    I found these fleece blankets at Walmart for $3. I took them home and washed them in hot water and dried them to make sure they wouldn't pill and get nasty and then I had them monogrammed with the teachers first initial. I ran the idea by a former kindergarten teacher and she said it was fantastic and different. Both teachers loved them. I just got basic black and did the initial in white, but if you know favorite colors then you could do it that way.

  16. Mama Fisch
    December 16th, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    I am a teacher and I will give my two cents from that vantage point. I love gift cards to anywhere reasonable…target, starbucks, borders, etc… I hate the random "stuff" you get. Bath and Body stuff for example. I never get a scent I like. A thank you note/Christmas card is the best. If you take the time to write a note that is the best. Sure it needs to appropriate money wise but that is different for everyone. I say small gift card and a note.

  17. Anonymous
    December 16th, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    As (yet another) teacher, ANY gift card is the best gift. Even if it's just $5 to Starbucks or Target. A $10-20 gift card would be fantastic. They would be thrilled with that! And it shows that you value their hard work.

  18. MrsPatterson
    December 16th, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    Another chime-in from the teacher's point of view (my mom's in this case, not my own) – it has become tradition for her to come home and joke about the random crazy stuff she gets. I have to give another vote for gift cards. Yes the mugs and home-made ornaments are nice, but I'll be honest with you: she regifts anything that could possibly be regifted (i.e. mugs and candles) and tosses the ornaments and other stuff with kids' pictures on them. I know that sounds harsh, but you would not believe how much of that stuff she'd have accrued by now if she held on to it all. Plus, to everyone else in the family, it's just some random kid that we don't know and we don't really want to hang a stranger's picture on our tree.

    We have an in-home daycare provider, and she works alone. We got her a $50 gift card to Target. I was going to give her more but things were unexpectedly tight this year.

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