Monday, December 14, 2009

Obligatory spending, I mean merriment, chapter the nth

There's an editorial in today's Cape Cod Times about giving gifts to teachers. In brief: it says that some people go nuts with teacher gifts this time of year, but that gifts more than $50 in value to public employees, including teachers, are actually illegal.

I wish I'd seen this a month ago. Before Thanksgiving break, the mother of one of the Bean's classmates sent a notice home to all the parents saying that she sells Arbonne products (I won't provide a link, but it's skin care stuff), and that she thought it would be a great idea if every family in the class gave her some money ("$10-$20 would be great") so that she could fill a basket with some of these products for the teacher. We were instructed to call her if we didn't want to participate.

This little missive got on my nerves. First of all, coming in mid-November, it seemed like too soon to be getting on the whole buy-buy-buy treadmill that is Christmas in America. Second, how nice that this person saw a business opportunity for herself, but come on, $10-20/family? Really? We're going to give the classroom teacher a $200-$400 gift from your business? It just seemed wrong somehow.

Now I know why. According to the CCTimes piece, it doesn't matter if people pool their money, if the gift is worth more than $50, it's not legal.

The day the note came home, I left the enterprising parent a message saying no thanks, I didn't want to play. Probably there isn't much point in calling her again now to say, "oh by the way, it's against the law."

Still, what to do for teacher gifts? I just can't imagine anyone wants another World's Greatest Teacher mug/notepad/Christmas ornament/candle/fridge magnet/landfill fodder du jour, and frankly, most people need cookies like they need a hole in the head. I usually give a $15 gift card to a local bookstore with a note from the child whose teacher it is. Teachers are often people who like to read, and if not, it's an easy thing to give away. Seems to me the note from the child is the important part anyway, but what do I know. If I were more savvy about these things I'd be in business for myself.


  1. Gift card to a local version of the national eatery chain. Although I understand that it is illegal for a national eatery to exist on Cape Cod, much the same as it is illegal for a Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot--can't have an Applebea's as it conflicts with quaint. As to the mom peddling the facial stuff---Man that one has CHUTZPAH--she stuffed you all with her passive aggressiveness, good thing you have the nerve to opt out. What a putz she is.

  2. No national eateries on Cape Cod? We have The Olive Garden, Sam Diego's, Outback Steakhouse, Uno's, Friendly's, T.G.I.Friday's... all on the same stretch of road, granted, and of which suck. Not Your Average Joe's at the Cape Cod Mall is actually quite good though. Applebee's wouldn't be a bad addition. I liked Chili's, but it closed.

    Wal-mart is in Falmouth where nobody who doesn't live in Falmouth can conveniently get to it. The Home Depot Lite in Hyannis isn't worth much. BJ's is useful, however.

    I digress. Yes, I thought that mother had Some Nerve.

  3. We have so many basic "teacher" gifts all over our house. Bing's favorite gifts from parents are always personalized notes. Seriously. The ones that are well thought out and show that they know their child.

    And yes, gift certificates to restaurants and books stores are good too. One parent gave her a 20$ gift certificate to Home Depot after he came in to see our then unfinished bathroom....

  4. Wow. In 37 years of teaching high school I never ever got an apple much less a book gift card for Christmas. Thinking back maybe I should have opted for Kindergarden teaching. Oh well. :)

  5. Hey, I resent that someone is posting as Anonymous and spamming your blog.

    But thought you might find this of interest.

  6. I think your gift card to a bookstore idea is really great. I got one from my daughter's teacher, believe it or not, as a thanks for helping out once a week in class. I gave bundles of notecards of my art to the teachers. I costs me about 20 cents a card and I already have them made up for my business, so eeeasy. I read the same article about the limit for gifts, a few years ago we pooled our money (3 dollars per kid in the class, multiply that by 28 kids and it was a good gift card to Target) I think pooling money together for something like that should be legal if it is over $50...if the teacher gets something worth $5 per kid anyway, it equals up to more than that anyway! I do hate expectations from parents to rally together for it though, for some reason.

  7. I deleted the spam.

    Blogger used to alert me by email when I got a comment, and for some reason they've stopped. Hm.