Potential problems with group gifts

Getting a communal gift for a teacher, caregiver, activity leader, and the like is a kind and socially normal gesture. If done wrong it can be an alienating and humiliating experience for others.

It seems to be that there is always that eager beaver parent who buys gifts for teachers (etc.) when they have been sick, away, holidays, and the end of the year. It is great of them to take this initiative, especially when so many of us parents have packed schedules. Theoretically, this helps the rest of us. But what does this leader really know about “the rest of us?” Our circumstances are not captioned with our e-mail addresses from parent lists.

What has been happening is the gift is decided upon by one individual or a few from a large group, and then purchased. “The rest of us” receive an e-mail saying how great of an idea this is, how so-and-so deserves it, and a dollar amount we owe. Financial differences between households are not taken into consideration nor are options given. Did the purchasers buy a gift card to a store another parent works for, and therefore could have acquired for cheaper? Were there non-monetary contributions that could have been made? Not only do some parents feel a punch to the gut, but also their children do to by feeling excluded from what is proposed as a group activity among their peers.

My suggestion is, if you decide to buy a class gift without touching base with all those you intend to help finance it, buy something you can afford on your own. Then let people know you would like to give this as a group present, and could people please pay what they can. Or, ask if someone else can be in charge of the card, an accompanying craft, wrapping, etc.

This situation will be coming up a lot this time of year, and a group gift should be a group decision.

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