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A Mother With Major Gift Giving Hangups Confronts the Age Old Question: What To Give The Teacher?

Many many Christmases ago, I had a couple dollars in my backpack to shop at my elementary school's Santa's Secret Workshop fund raiser. I remember picking out a pair of what were probably hideous earrings for my mother, and because my parents taught at the school and all the teachers knew me (read: SPOILED ROTTEN), I also remember sitting in the office while a teacher wrapped up my gift and the secretaries cooed over what a nice girl I was, and how excited my mom would be to get these beautiful earrings. And then I remember my mom opening her gift and watching her put them on and feeling so! very! proud! 

This year we're letting the kids give their own gifts. We've hit this sweet spot between They're Old Enough and I'm On Top Of Things, and we've been busy making all sorts of crafty and edible items for the important people in our lives. These are easy projects that I try not to micromanage - it's from the kids, so it should LOOK like it's from the kids, right? I want them to be proud when they hand their grandmother a [ATTN MY MOM: SPOILER ALERT!] warped-looking cinnamon Christmas tree ornament bundled inside yards of wrapping paper and an entire dispenser's worth of tape. (Wrapping might be their favorite part.)

We also have preschool teachers on our list this year, and I've been reading all the blog posts about teacher presents: what to give, how to give it, how much to spend, what's best. And, well, I just feel sort of weird about the whole thing. It's true that I have JUST entered the realm of Teacher Present Giving and these are three-year-olds we're talking about. But I will readily admit that I am Difficult about presents. I have Opinions about presents, like how I'm really down on registries. (I am now ducking behind a chair to avoid the tomatoes.) I didn't want to make a registry when I got married because I didn't want to tell people what to give me (I lost that battle) and while I do appreciate WHY we have registries, I prefer to find my own gifts (though I often combine those gifts with something practical/useful/from a registry, because I KNOW I KNOW, I am the only one with these Gift Giving Hangups, GETOVERITALREADY.) 

I also... hate giving money. (DUCKING AGAIN!) I have given money - actually, we often give money at weddings - but I ALWAYS give something else. I like meaningful and sentimental and I sure do appreciate all the relatives who gave us money for our wedding (I really really do!), but I also really love remembering that this is the vase my mother's friend picked out in that fancy Italian store just for us.

SO ANYWAY. Hangups revealed. Moving on. Now what do we give the preschool teachers? 

The popular answer seems to be: gift cards. And I agree, gift cards are awesome. But gift cards are, for me, a last resort. Gift cards are what happens when I spend two hours at the mall hunting for a birthday present for my thirteen-year-old niece and end up in Forever 21 asking a teenage clerk to just activate a gift card already. My own parents being teachers, I remember them coming home on the last day of school with armfuls of soaps, candles, mugs, ornaments and candy (my dad always made sure his class knew he liked chocolate - smart man.) 

But really, I want JACK to give the gift, not me. Cinnamon ornaments won't do, since that's the sort of thing I'm sure a preschool teacher is sick of by the time Christmas finally rolls around. I suppose I could take him to Target and let him pick out a box of candy. But he could also give some treats he helped me make (cookies, fudge) and a card he will make himself. I'll ask him to tell me a few things he likes about each teacher, and write them down in the card. We'll package them up cute and he'll get the honor of giving them to each teacher, hopefully with his chest puffed out a little bit. 

I thinking giving gifts and receiving them are important experiences (and lessons!) to have, even at three. What do you think?