Q&A: End-of-year gifts for teachers, daycare providers, et al.

This is another one we talk about every year. Last year I made the mistake of rolling it in with a discussion about Santa, so when you read last year's post you'll have to wade through lots of (interesting, but off-topic) Santa-talk.

The stand-out comment from last year's thread was when a teacher said:

One parent actually said to me "Youtaught my daughter to love reading.....I'm not buying you f-ing soap." and she handed me a wad of money totaling $100.

Then we talked a lot about this idea that cash is somehow tacky, which led to the idea that women (which the majority of teachers and daycare providers are) are traditionally supposed to be "above" cash. And that things we wouldn't hesitate to give cash to men for we give soaps and candles to women for. That's just not right. Women have bills to pay, too.

So I'm going to vote that we stop with the cutesy gifts for women, and go to cash *or* things that really are just symbolic. I can't imagine that a teacher is going to feel bad that you can't afford a cash gift if your child makes a handmade card for the teacher.

Homebaked goods could go either way. Nut allergies? Chocolate aversion? A desire not to overeat? All these things could make homebaked treats not the loving act you intend them to be.

As I'm typing this I think I may be sounding a little like a Scrooge. But I'm think of all the really hardworking moms (many of them) who are teaching our kids to read and use the potty, and what the difference would be for them to be handed money at the end of the year or to go home with scented candles. Only one of those buys new shoes for their kids.

So, can we talk about amounts? Give the situation (daycare, preschool, or elementary school, public or private, how many teachers, where you live, etc.) and what the standard is there.

Also, anyone know what to give NYC bus drivers?? We have a different one in the morning and afternoon, and the morning guy has really gone out of his way to be awesome in several dimensions.