Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Class Gift

I know the class gift has been the subject of other blogs. But I'm here to tell you that I won't ever organize another one.

I organized the class gift for both my son's public school first grade class and for my daughter's private daycare pre-k class. My experiences differed wildly, and in a surprising twist it was much easier to coordinate this for the public school than for the private.

First, the public school has definite guidelines as to how much you can spend. I believe the limit is $200. In his class of 20 students, I asked each parent to contribute $5. Most did, while a few gave $10.

Communicating with the public school parents was also much easier. I used the class email list and then went to the school and put a note in each student's folder. Finally, when the deadline was coming near, another mom called the last few parents who hadn't responded.

The results were great: I got a 90% response rate--17 parents contributed and one other told us she had already purchased the teacher's gift. With the $85 I collected, I was able to buy a $40 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a $40 gift card to A.C. Moore. Additionally, I asked the children to draw a picture of their favorite holiday or winter scene, which I put into a binder for the teacher. Add to that a $5 ornament, and viola! it's a gift! Today, at the first grade open house, the students gathered and gave the teacher her gift. And, in the true spirit of the holidays, she was much more impressed with the drawings than the gift cards.

Contrast that with my experience with the private daycare. There is no class email list, so I put a note in each child's folder. There is no class phone list so I couldn't follow up. I am not sure who got the note and who didn't so every day I would be surprised if there was a contribution in my daughter's home school folder.

For the daycare class, 12 out of 20 participated. However, the amounts they gave were all over the board--from $5 to $50. I ended up getting each teacher a $175 visa check card, and ornament, and their own book of drawings.

Today, with just 3 days before the school closes for Christmas, people are emailing me, telling me that they didn't know I was organizing this and could they participate? Sorry, no...the gift is already wrapped.

So what's my "lesson learned" here? Well, for one, people in private schools sure do pony up some big bucks! But I also learned that I don't know that much about my daughter's classmates...I certainly don't know many of the parents' names. That's probably okay, seeing that she's leaving the school next fall to join my son at our town's public school.

But the biggest lesson is that this is the last time I'm organizing the gifts. I'll contributed my $5 or $20. But someone else can write the notes!

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