Your Kid’s Teachers, Your Hairdresser and Your Admin Want This For Christmas

Giving money is tacky. We should give thoughtful gifts that we spent a lot of time thinking about and searching for. Or better yet, we should make something handmade. Knit something, perhaps, or the good old plate of Christmas goodies.

Wrong, says Jenée on Twitter.

I’m inclined to agree with her. Look, I like baked goods and hand knits as much as the next person, but that doesn’t mean it’s what other people want for Christmas. (In fact, I actually probably like baked goods more than the next person, but that’s a diet problem and not a gift problem.)

Twitter was also inclined to agree with her:

To keep reading, click here: Your Kid’s Teachers, Your Hairdresser and Your Admin Want This For Christmas

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12 thoughts on “Your Kid’s Teachers, Your Hairdresser and Your Admin Want This For Christmas

  1. YES. Just yes. There is no reason to think that you know what someone in a subordinate position would like. Part of their job is often to make sure that you don’t. Showing you appreciation by creating an unwanted obligation for them (even an obligation like keeping a tacky mug on their desk or disappearing some baked goods) is not a gift. And don’t get me started on scented lotions. Why did this become a go-to gift? Also – it is perfectly alright, and even welcome by some, to not receive holiday gifts. If you really want to give an appreciated gift to a Classroom teacher, find that school supplies list from the beginning of the year and buy it all again.

  2. Want to make your child’s teacher’s holiday? Send an e-mail to all the parents. Suggest that instead of stuff that the teacher really, really doesn’t want, each parent contribute $20 (or whatever amount) for a Visa gift card. Or plain, old cash in an envelope. You will be a hero to everyone involved.

    The teacher gets something he or she CAN ACTUALLY USE. The other parents can PayPal the money to you with no effort. You can order the gift card online. Easy-peasy. Everyone wins.

    It cannot be said too often: teachers Don’t want junk.

  3. My mom taught grammar school kids in the 50s and 60s. She always appreciated home baked goods. Other things like candles, jewelry, etc. she usually just passed on to others. She always appreciated how proud the kids were to give her gifts. Mom taught in a working-class neighborhood, where we also lived, and people didn’t have a lot of money for much other than living expenses. If my mom got $2 as a Christmas gift that was a big deal. Most people give what they can afford and also give what they would like to receive.

    1. This blog isn’t really oriented towards people in the demographic you describe. CERTAINLY this particular article was not aimed at this demographic. It’s aimed at people who employ hairdressers etc. and who make substantially more than the hair dresser. In that context, yes, the thought still counts, but let’s get real.

    2. Mine was a 1st grade teacher in the 70’s and 80’s. We had a enough apple themed ornaments to decorate our whole Christmas tree, and quite a collection of mugs. While we definitely could have used the cash, she NEVER would have been critical of someone’s choice of gift. (Besides, homemade gifts usually cost less than even the most modest gift card.)

      A gift reflects both the giver and the recipient, and their relationship, and is not based on need. The gift is a token of the relationship, and the time or thought put into it reflective of the time spent thinking of the recipient. This is why cash/gift cards have often been maligned as impersonal. Recipients also play a role in this, being thankful for the recognition, for the time/work in the handmade gift, or for the giver’s taste or thoughtfulness.

      Need-based gifts are called “charity”, and there is certainly room for that, but not necessarily as a replacement for the gifts we give out of love/appreciation. Certainly if you are in a position of great wealth relative to others, who depend solely on you (i.e. the corporate magnate in a small town Hallmark movie), then you should be wafting $100 bills at all and sundry. But this says much more about your power over them than it does about your good will toward them.

  4. Absolutely agree, no mugs/candy/cheap ornaments. We give our neighbors fruit. Service providers get cash.

  5. Two things about teacher gifts.
    1. Be careful about combining cash into a large gift card. Above a certain amount can in some states get the teacher in trouble and be seen as a bribe. It might be better for each family to give their gift separately.

    2. This is more end of the year than winter break but consider writing a letter praising the teacher’s work with your child. Give specific examples of help and encouragement. Send it to the teacher but CC the principal and the principal’s supervisor (Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education/Secondary Education where I live). Administration usually only hear about the problems, not the good things happening in the classroom.

    1. Exactly, my state does not allow our teachers to receive anything other than “home-made” gifts from the children since many of our towns have lower income families, and they do not want any child to feel they are different because they are not in the same financial position as another family.

  6. Good point by some comments about how certain employees can’t really get any type of tip (e.g. USPS limits any gift beyond $20). But this constant reminder to give extra tips is a bit pushy especially when it assumes one has that extra money available in the budget.
    Don’t feel guilty if you can’t tip everyone mentioned, especially if you are tipping them on a weekly service all year round. There’s no reason to go into debt to give. Sorry for the Scrooge-like rant, but don’t feel the need to give more than you can afford.

  7. My wife teaches second grade. She is always tickled to show me all the gifts she gets. Yes she gets a few gift cards but they do not get the same showing as the knit mug cozy or plate of cookies. She especially likes the handmade Christmas cards because the child themselves made it.
    Maybe the hairdresser or mailman should get cash, but I believe my wife would miss the other gifts.

  8. If it’s someone you pay for their services — like your housekeeper, hairdresser, etc. — cash is ideal. However, for someone like your child’s teacher, cash — however useful — is tacky; give a practical gift card to someplace they will use, or, better yet, one that can be used anywhere plastic is accepted.

  9. Coming from a different less tip-centric culture, articles like this blow my mind. So much complexity in the holiday, and reading the comments I see that not all commenters agree on the rules. I assume Suzanne is talking about America here, and not Switzerland by the way.

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