18 Dec
Nobody Likes a Show Off. Or Do They?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

The moms at my children’s school are very competitive, and each year they give their kids’ teachers very expensive holiday gifts. I’m talking James Avery jewelry, etc. I don’t want to spend that much just to keep up with them, but I don’t want my kids to not be treated as well because we haven’t buttered up the teacher. What should I do?


Not Hot For Teacher’s Gifts

Dear Not Hot For Teacher’s Gifts,

Last I heard, it’s not legal to change a child’s grade because his mother gave the teacher peanut butter cookies for Christmas and not a Marc Jacobs pocketbook. However, if the teacher has a peanut allergy, well, that’s a different story because chances are she’ll be dead by the time report cards are due, anyway. Then you can sleep at night knowing that although you killed an innocent person, at least you didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on her and only to get nothing in return.

“Luckily” for me, my daughter goes to public school in California where the idea of a balanced budget with enough left over to educate the children is but a mere pipe dream.   I’m not saying it can’t happen, I’m just saying that it’s more likely that I’ll be the first Jewish, over forty, under-medicated woman to ever win a gold medal in ice-dancing, before it does.

As a result, all the parents at the school are asked to donate hundreds of dollars to help buy things like paper and pencils and hand sanitizer, therein leaving very little cash for them to drop a few “Benjamins” on a Tiffany tennis bracelet for little Ms. Applebee.

Sadly, no one knows better than a teacher about what it’s like to not make much money.   These men and women are grossly overworked and underpaid and quite frankly, I think that showing them kindness and offering to help them out in the classroom will give you the same leg up as those who do nothing besides traipse in once a year dangling a bag from a store where the average item would cost the teacher an entire day’s pay.

Good luck!

Jessica, TMH

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12 Responses to “Nobody Likes a Show Off. Or Do They?”


Comment by MommyTime.

I would suggest either baking something particularly tasty (I have a 5th grade teacher friend, and there is one child in the school who ALL the teachers want every time a new year comes around because her mother’s Christmas home-baked goodie is THAT good that they all know about it). Or making a donation in the teacher’s name to someplace great (try DonorsChoose.org for school related donation places, or donate some books to a local children’s shelter or something similar). Either of those will be clearly about the thought more than the price — and if the teacher is good, the teacher knows that the thought and effort are most important.


Comment by becky.

here is a little secret: the teachers don’t really want all those gifts anyway! My mother is a retired elementary school teacher and she always dreaded the last day of school before Christmas because she would have to haul all those gifts home and then toss most of them anyway. The ones she didn’t toss, she would either donate or re-gift. Consider that info when you are saving your pennies and buying a simple gift for the teacher.


Comment by Marinka.

My school (ok, my kids’ school) gives a class gift and individual gifts are discouraged. This way it’s super duper fair. Except for the class mom who has to hit everyone up for cash.


Comment by KBO.

Dude, as a former teacher, I can tell you that teachers DO NOT want tchotkes or anything with apples on them. When my aunt retired, she literally had dozens and dozens of boxes of stuf (but she’s kinda a hoarder, so that’s a whole other thing).

Teachers, at least the cool ones, do not usually show favoritism based on expensive gifts, probably because we do not like to be bought. Homebaked goods, COFFEE, or anything like that is a perfectly awesome, much appreciated gift. I love the suggestion of a Donors Choose donation, too.


Comment by Chris.

Excellent points, Jessica! A teacher-friend of mine said all she REALLY wants is the support of parents. She said she’d prefer that to a higher salary. I believe her!


Comment by J.

AMEN! xoxo


Comment by amy.

As always, great advice 🙂


Comment by fraujoolie.

Hey, I’m a teacher. I’ll take any action I can get.


Comment by Casey.

I had a tough time deciding on teacher gifts this year too. I went with Target gift cards since I remember getting candles and lotions back when I taught and there were only so many smelly things I could take.


Comment by Stacy (the Random Cool Chick).

I make a gift basket for the teacher – nothing much, just some homemade goodies and of course a bottle of wine. Nothing like encouraging your kid’s teacher to get inebriated over the holidays. 😉


Comment by I Know It’s Only the First Day But…..

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Comment by christy.

Great advice Jessica – I dread the day I have to think about these things. I hate gift giving just for the sake of it!

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