Smaller is better and a homemade card or gift from a student is the best.
By Sarah Varney
Smaller is better and a homemade card or gift from a student is the best. That’s the clear message of Policy #1800 from the Rye City School District’s playbook.
“Homemade” used to be fairly straightforward. At holiday time, parents of elementary-age students who had been successfully fighting the urge to bake sweets all year, could finally give in and turn out a sheetful of gingerbread men, shortbread stars, and sleighs decorated with colorful icing, sprinkles, and even silver and gold dragées (those little balls that can crack a crown or chip a tooth).
But then the children got too old, and holiday baking became just another Mom chore. The year the kids started ‘experimenting’ with the cutout cookies and produced black and pink reindeer with six legs and cookie Santas with antlers signaled the end of the holiday baking tradition at our house!
These days, parents often express their holiday wishes with gift cards for Starbucks, Target, Amazon, or any of a million other websites. The School District has an official gift-giving policy that prohibits presents valued at more than $75 and strongly encourages small gifts or even cards and letters in lieu of pricier swag. Some parents police themselves. At one of the elementary schools, parents hew to a tacit agreement that limits holiday spending to $25 for individual teacher gifts. Many parents skip individual gifts and donate solely to the class holiday gift.
Elementary school class parents are usually asked to contribute at least $20 per student for the group gift, a practice that gives teachers and their aides a nice holiday bonus. It’s understood that the gift is from the entire class — there is no list of individual donors.
Teacher ‘Wish Lists’ — particular books, magazine subscriptions or special items — offer another chance for holiday giving. The RMS PO has digitized the process by emailing team Wish Lists to parents that include a link to a payment system such as PayPal. Parents can donate money to specific school teams (R, M, and S). Teachers can then spend the money on classroom Wish List items, such as school trips and magazine subscriptions for the classroom.
“The nice thing about it is that it’s inclusive. For those with limited means, they can give a small amount and still feel they contributed,” said Kim O’Connor, RMS PO Co-President.
After all, as with any gift — it’s the thought that counts.