Teacher gift cards: together or to heck with the other parents?

The Silicon Valley Moms Blog recently blogged about this crappy economy, and how it's affecting people's holiday spending. I wrote about trying to cut down on Christmas card expenses, -- but since I failed miserably at that, I'm still looking for ways to simplify, simplify, simplify. No more eating out. Smaller presents for the kids. None for the grownups.

I feel miserable about it, but I'm wondering whether one other place to cut back should be presents for my kids' teachers, our housekeepers and our gardener. The gift cards I buy for them have been growing smaller every year as the economy worsens and our fortunes dwindle. I know every little bit helps, but I can't shake the feeling that there must be a threshold, and any amount below that would be insulting?

To make matters worse, there's this "Keeping up with the Joneses" thing that crops up alongside teacher presents. I totally agree with presenting teachers with pooled gift cards, because who in their right mind would want twenty loaves of teabread or mugs of cocoa mix or paperweights shaped like apples? My sister recently told me that the parents in her daughter's class have decided on a communal present for the teacher -- a small holiday tree. Cute, huh? But get this -- they want parents to hang individual gift cards for the teacher on the tree. Oh great. The person who thought of this must surely belong to the White Trash Mom's nemesis, the Muffia. What a thoughtful way to quantify in monetary terms show the teacher your appreciation. As someone who cannot afford to give $100 gift cards to my kids' teachers, I really appreciate it when class parents pool money from everyone and simply acknowledge the contributors' names without disclosing amounts. There's no easy way out of this one. Maybe I'd better go back to baking teabread....

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WkSocMom said...

If only we were more organized I love that idea, the communal gift card, not the tree. In preschool I gave quite a few gift cards as it was a poor area and the teachers got hardly anything, plus I had more $ then.

I'm for once faced with a preschool in a wealthier area, so not sure what to get - plus there are so many darn teachers. Fortunately i could give a rats ass how I measure up :)