Law Against Holiday Gifts for Teachers Isn't Such a Bad Idea

teacher giftEver feel like buying the holiday gift for your kid's teacher is a no-win situation? Either you spend too little and feel like the class cheapskate, or you spend too much and look like you're trying to buy your kid an A. Might as well slap a big "L" on your forehead before you even begin, am I right?

I'm starting to think our friends over in Germany have it right: make teacher gifts completely illegal. That's right. When I asked my Facebook friends for ideas for this year's educator present, a pal who teaches over in the land of wurst and cuckoo clocks confessed she'd lose her job if she accepted anything from her students. And I kind of love the idea.


The way she explained it, it's considered bribery if a child brings something special for their teacher. She and her colleagues are told they must say no to gifts, with the exception of something that they can share with the entire class instead of keeping for themselves.

If I said I didn't worry about bribing teachers, I'd be lying. Why else would I care whether I spent too much or too little? Whether it's how a teacher thinks or not, it's hard not to feel that how much you spend (or don't) is reflecting on your kid.

I will readily admit I'm one lucky duck. I have just one kid who (this year) has just one teacher and one bus driver. My colleague Sasha has eight -- count 'em -- eight different educators to buy for this year! The more kids you have, and the more aides in a classroom, the more inequitable it becomes. A parent with one kid (hello) can spend say $30 on that one teacher, but a parent with three kids is going to have to cut it back to $10 each in order to come out even at the end. Any way you slice it, it's hard not to feel awkward.

Not to mention the sheer agony of figuring out what to buy for someone you barely know. Gift cards, I've always been told, are the best option. But for where? I like to buy local, support my local community, but even right here in town, the decision is fraught with so many questions. Is a mani/pedi OK for a woman who may or may not get her nails done? Is a massage too personal (even if it's perfect stress relief after dealing with my kid all day)? Does she eat pizza? How about Chinese?

And for all you adorable "we don't worry about any of this because we make the gift" people, let me throw you a little monkey wrench. Does she even like apple pie? Does she have a nut allergy? Outlawing the teacher gift is starting to sound pretty darn good, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter's teacher and her bus driver too. These people are gifts to me as a mother for the things they do for my daughter every day. That's why I go through all this hemming and hawwing to buy them something nice. 

But it wouldn't exactly hurt my feelings if I couldn't do it anymore. How about you? Would you support a law against teacher gifts?

Image via Tiger Girl/Flickr

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