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.