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Baked Goods as Gifts For Teachers, Etc.

Jumping on the other thread about baked goods as gifts for co-workers, I have a list of school teachers, music teacher, martial arts teacher, etc and I cannot afford to buy each of them a gift card this year. I usually make up gift baskets from Trader Joe's, but that usually works out to about $20 per basket and is still expensive since I need a number of them. I was thinking about baking cookies, brownies or ginger bread and putting them in a holiday basket with maybe a box of chocolates from TJ's. Is this OK or would it look cheap? I really like to get homemade treats as a gift, but
not sure everyone agrees.

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  1. Honestly, it would never occur to me to start handing out gift cards to teachers. I see nothing cheap about sending homemade baked goodies. I always did. Then one year we made some kind of cinnamon scented cookie Christmas tree ornaments that were well received. Try not to worry about what they'll think.

    5 Replies
    1. re: miss_belle

      The motivation I usually see for that is that you can give them a gift card to something like Staples that they can spend on supplies for the classroom - teachers tend to spend a lot of their own money on supplies.

      1. re: miss_belle

        Wouldn't you kind of want to worry about what the recipient of a gift might think, though?

        1. re: Hobbert

          Not after reading this thread and boy am I glad that's all behind me now.

          1. re: miss_belle

            I just meant that it seems like considering what someone might want/need is a part of gift giving. That's all.

            1. re: Hobbert

              I come from a family where homemade Christmas cookies were considered a safe bet for people you don't know that well. I doubt I'd ever give a teacher a gift card.

              Like I said ~ glad those days are behind me:-)

      2. Kat, The trend I am most grateful for is pooling resources in situations like this. When every parent places something into the gift basket and the teacher receives a collective gift, I'm a good deal more comfortable with gifting educators. School teachers have how many kids in their class?

        Music, martial arts, etc. you already pay them for your child's private lessons? I'd say a hand signed note by everyone in the class and perhaps a small holiday themed gift from everyone is the way to go.

        I enjoy giving gifts. But I do think givers over think the idea.

        1. Does your list also include allergies of each individual for whom you will be baking? In today's society, there are just too many people with allergies or sensitivities. But I know of know one that is allergic to gift cards. That being said, if you can't afford gifts, there is no shame in not giving gifts to everyone your child knows.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wadejay26

            Food gifts are still okay. People who have food allergies know to enquire about ingredients. Most are likely gracious enough to not be upset if you inadvertently gave them cookies to which they are allergic.

          2. Last year I made a big batch of granola with lots of different nuts, dried fruits and coconut flakes, different seeds...put them in the Weck containers. Everyone LOVED it. The beauty of granola is that their storage life is longer than baked goods.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Monica

              I've discovered that granola is a great teacher's gift!

              My daughter has ten teachers this year, so even if I buy each a $10 gift card, that's $100, which is not pocket change for me. (By comparison, we set a $100 limit on our daughter's Christmas presents, and I think it's reasonable that her collective teachers' presents come below that.) So, I made granola and packed it in Ball jars. The reaction has been wonderful! My favorite reaction was from the teacher who told my daughter she felt very smug eating homemade granola with plain yogurt for breakfast. Now I'm feeling smug. I've decided homemade granola is the perfect economical gift that doesn't look cheap.

            2. the Assistance League in town no longer has tin holiday containers becuz someone bought them all ;:-/
              no worry though they have so many to put out as soon as they disappear. I'll be going to buy more as soon as they open @ 10. they are always under a buck. yesterday I started my holiday baking that I put in zipper bags (then freeze) until ready to assemble....they then get disbursed in the various tins.
              vendors/store fronts/markets etc. we frequent get a gift.

              just a suggestion.

              1. I don't agree..................
                This is no longer 1950, but the 21st century. I wouldn't let my kids accept unwrapped candy or aked items on Halloween and I wouldn't accept home baked items from someone who wasn't a close friend (and in whose home I'd eat).

                My mother taught school for 40+ years and the holiday gifts she rec'd from students either went in the charity box or the trash but each was acknowledged with a proper thank you note.

                I have a different perspective: Why do you think you have an obligation to add these people to you holiday gift list? They are neither family or close friends. you are already paying for their services via tuition of taxes. A nice holiday card should be sufficient. You shouldn't be under a financial strain to gift to semi-strangers with which you have a quasi-business relationship.

                Bake for your close friends and family.

                I know I might get a lot of flack for this, but every year I refuse to expand the holiday list for these appendages. I send a nice check to the CT Food Bank and use their holiday cards for these type of people.

                27 Replies
                1. re: bagelman01

                  I was wondering this too. I don't have kids and was homeschooled so giving a Christmas gift to a teacher never would have occurred to me. They're doing their jobs- if they've been particularly good, I would write to their supervisor. Also, wouldn't this get expensive? There were 4 kids in our family but I knew many families with 8-10. I can't imagine how costly it would be to buy a gift at a rate of one teacher per kid, let alone more. Yikes.

                  1. re: Hobbert

                    It's kind of crazy, but it's also expected. Daycare is particularly difficult - my son's room has four teachers. And my daughter's after-school program has a ton.

                    I usually contribute some $$ to the group classroom gift and send a token - a nice, handwritten note and something my child made. Last year we did cinnamon applesauce ornaments. I think this year we might go with a jar of jam. Another thing I do is send an email to the boss if a teacher goes above or beyond - I think the director of my daughter's after school program does a great job - I try to send an email to his boss commending his work and his attitude.

                    Teachers may be throwing things away (and I know ones who do) but classes aren't so big that home baked items are coming from strangers and likely to carry razor blades in them. I think the gesture is always appreciated.

                    1. re: Savour

                      The group gift sounds like a smart idea. A friend of mine is an elementary school teacher and she lays for a lot of supplies from her own money. A group gift card to an office supply store or Target or something could really go a long way. I know she gives a lot of teacher theme mugs to Goodwill... I'm not a teacher but, for me, a note of appreciation is really wonderful.

                      1. re: Savour

                        it gets worse in middle school and high school where there is a teacher for each subject. Cards. Are great

                        1. re: Kalivs

                          In my area, even the most over-achieving parents seem to stop gift giving when kids get to middle school. Or maybe I'm projecting....

                          A card for a special teacher, perhaps.

                        2. re: Savour

                          For daycare I do a breakfast (bagels, cream cheese, OJ, smoked salmon is nice but not necessary). They love it. I was late one year and now I actually plan on doing it in January, it lifts the spirits in a long cold month and I have more spare time.

                      2. re: bagelman01

                        Yes. My ex was a teacher. All the homemade baked gifts went into the trash or re-gifted to someone at the school. It gets hard to re gift at a school when everyone is trying to unload baked gifts from parents. No one wants them :(

                        .... it is such a waste, I wish the parents making all the cookies, candies and fudge knew this.

                        1. re: sedimental

                          when I baked for the teachers at the French schools my offspring attended, the teachers swooned....and asked me for my recipes.

                          French teachers tend to be a pretty distant lot...they melted to puddles for homebaked goodies.

                          I've also baked for coworkers and teachers here, with nearly as many recipe requests -- I don't for a second believe that they were all dumped in the garbage.
                          In time-starved years, I've also bought small gift boxes from Godiva -- they're surprisingly affordable, and especially day-care and after-school assistants loved having a "fancy" gift that they never would have bought for themselves.

                          Homeroom teachers usually got a Visa or Amex gift card...then they can spend it on what they want -- even if it's just gas for the car.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Likewise, I've received many recipe requests (and asked to make "XYZ" again). In addition, I've often been asked to prepare food for school events for 10 ppl up to 250 ppl, and that went on for many years and through four different schools until our youngest graduated from high school. So it's very hard for me to imagine any of these teachers with whom I interacted regularly, who asked for my recipes and asked me to cook for their school-related events, turning around and throwing my home-baked food gift in the garbage. That's my personal experience, and after reading some of these responses, I'm really grateful to live where food gifting is the accepted norm.

                          2. re: sedimental

                            My teacher friends seem to love the baked goods they receive.

                          3. re: bagelman01

                            She would donate food she wouldn't eat to charity?

                            I would eat in the home of anyone who invited me.

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              The non-food gifts went to charity. How many bottles of $1.98 toilet water, 99 cent handkerchiefs or notepaper would you want? NONE

                              The baked goods either went in the trash or were fed to the wildlife in our yard (if appropriate for their consumption).

                              The givers were properly thanked. Every year mom sent home notes Thanksgiving time, PLEASE send no holiday gifts for the teacher, it's not necessary, but the gifts kept coming for over 40 years. When I broke up mom's home last June (at 91 she is in a nursing home) I did find a large carton with all the holiday cards she rec'd from students and parents. That's was meant something to her.

                              As an aside>>>you might be able to eat in the home of anyone who invited you. Mom taught public school for 10 years in a farming community and 30 years in the inner city. In those 40 years I don't believe she ever had a student whose home was kosher where mom could eat. She graciously accepted the food gift offerings and disposed of them on the sly.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                well, being kosher is a complication you did not mention, You made it sound like you just wouldn't eat at homes of people you don't know and that the food was good enough for charity but not for her.

                                1. re: magiesmom

                                  what this brings out is that even if your home is clean and you are a great baker you may not know the dietary restrictions/allergies of the teacher

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                <Why do you think you have an obligation to add these people to your holiday gift list?>

                                My generation, albeit a long time ago, highly respected teachers and what they did for our children every single day they were away from us.
                                Nobody spent alot of money on the teachers, sometimes it was a homemade note of thanks, but it was something that made the teacher know how much they were appreciated.
                                I think that's important.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  A holiday card or note of thanks is appropriate. And I understand how much time a child spends with an elementary school teacher. BUT: the OP is NOT just talking about the elementary teacher, but music teacher, martial arts teacher, etc. These are not municipal employees but operators/employees of FOR PROFIT extra curricular activities and the OP is a CUSTOMER. I'm of the opinion that BUSINESSES should be giving holiday tokens to customers, NOT the other way around.

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    I like the idea of a heartfelt letter of thanks to the teacher, with some specific examples of his/her unique qualities, but with a copy (I almost typed "cc," showing my age) to the principal. Couldn't hurt for the teacher's praises to be sung up the chain of command.

                                    Just my 2 cents, rather than a plate of cookies, no matter how delicious or lovingly made.

                                    A few years ago, after over 30 years post-high-school graduation, I contacted a teacher who was exceptional, got me through some very tough times, and installed a lifelong obsession with good books. I explained the impact he had on me, and he was in tears. Love good teachers.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      IMHO, it's irrelevant whether a teacher, or someone in an authoritative position who provides instructional and/or other types of training to children is a public, taxpayer-funded employee or a for-profit business employee. How they get paid is besides the point. The bottom line is, these individuals have chosen vocations to guide, train and care for young persons, and they are entrusted by their clients to do so with due diligence. Maybe not all of them have necessarily devoted a lifetime in their respective fields to become masters and gurus. But all professions in which the practitioners "teach" and mentor young persons ought to be given respect and be valued. And in doing so, tokens of appreciation, in whatever form and/or flavor, should be thought of and given appropriately.

                                      Again, any of you who find yourselves with excess baked goods that you don't know what to do with this month, please PM me and I will provide you my shipping address ....... ;-)

                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                        We absolutely disagree....................
                                        I am of the firm belief that CUSTOMERS don't give gifts to the business, they receive them from the business. By paying the fee to that music school or martial arts studio you are a customer and whether or not the instructor is highly skilled the relationship is not the same as with a scholl teacher who spends 8 hours per day, 5 days per week wioth your child.
                                        I wouldn't giveholiday gifts to teachers, but would give/send a notecard. BUT if I did give a food gift, it would have to be a commercially produced and packaged item (for safety reasons) that I then wrapped myself (beautifully)

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          The owner of the business might be making good money (maybe) but that does not mean the instructor does.The hours are typically terrible ie/ 3-4 hours in the evening and weekends, terrible for social & family life and not enough money to support yourself. In the case of music, the instructor is probably way overeducated and very skilled (master's degree, just missed making the symphony, etc... I know these people).
                                          I can see other reasons not to give gifts to those instructors... but not on the basis of private vs. public sector. I also tip my cleaning lady (self-employed) as well as other people who work crappy unskilled jobs for employers (movers and the like) - on the the basis that I'd rather know they get some money directly in their pockets.

                                        2. re: LotusRapper

                                          I agree. I value my daughter's teachers as far more than paid employees. Buying or making a small gift (but never useless trinkets or clutter) is a more personal form of showing my appreciation than writing the tuition check. I attach more meaning to the gifts I give to teachers than to the perfunctory duty exchanges with adult relatives.

                                      2. re: latindancer

                                        Amen to that, latindancer and LotusRapper. Well said. Thank you.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          I have fond memories of pumpkin bread baking night in our home. Mom would make a loaf for every single teacher who worked with her four children in a given year.

                                        2. re: bagelman01

                                          bagelman, I couldn't agree with you more. And not just on the food safety issue. A nice card is probably appreciated more than just about anything. Think how few 'real' cards any of us get these days. And baked goods as a gift? Isn't there already too much of that at this time of year?

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I gave my daughter's teachers a card from me and a card from her.

                                            One parent sent an email asking for $5 for each teacher. (There are two teachers.)

                                        3. I certainly don't want to put kitchen time into a gift that is going to be tossed in the trash! Gift cards under $50 are often given to teachers in our school system at the holidays to help defray the cost of school supplies that the school does not provide and that the teacher has to buy. The music teacher volunteers her time without pay, so she needs a gift. I guess gifts are not the place to try and save money, so I'll have to cut back elsewhere. Glad I asked before I spent a couple days making cookies!

                                          1. if i were in your position, and was planning to include sealed box of chocolates anyway, i'd skip the baked goods and just wrap up the chocolates as the gift.

                                            the chocolates can be re-gifted and/or exchanged at TJ's.

                                            if i were the teacher, if i couldn't locate a new home for the baked goods before i got home, they'd end up in the trash before i entered my house.

                                            1. I do not eat the baked goods that I receive from students each year. Either my coworkers take them (because they WILL eat them) or I throw them away. It is a waste.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Njchicaa

                                                When I taught that is exactly what I did. Sometimes my husband took the gifts to work and left them by the coffee pot. I appreciated the thought but we did not want the zucchini bread, thumbprint cookies, gingerbread men, fudge, cranberry relish, curried Cheerios, banana bread, molded hard candy reindeer, or homemade potato chips.

                                              2. Last year, I really could not afford teacher gifts - my husband and I were going through an expensive court case. I had my step-daughter make cards, and got a gourmet chocolate bar to go with each. It is fancy enough that it doesn't look cheap, easy to regift if the person is allergic or doesn't like it, and only cost me $3-4 dollars per person.

                                                1. Hi Kat!

                                                  I'm a teacher (of much older kids), and seriously, what is/was/will always be cherished by me is notes from the students. I don't expect or want gifts, but I always love a card with a note.

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    I'm a teacher also and I feel the same way. A handwritten note is awesome and provides all the warm fuzzies needed this holiday season.

                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                      I like the idea of the heartfelt note and also of the poster below who sent a good quality bar of chocolate with it. That is what I will do. Thank you to the teachers for responding with honesty regarding the baked goods idea. Chowhounders are great!

                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                        You're very generous, Kat. It's a lovely compromise.

                                                        1. re: Kat

                                                          I hope you found asking the question worthwhile. I learned a lot too. So thanks for starting the thread.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            I sure did. Kid is in 5th this year, so maybe this is the last year when parents gift teachers. In talking to other parents of older kids, it seems that is what happens.

                                                          2. re: Kat

                                                            A bar of chocolate is a perfectly adequate gift. You don't have to give them the moon...

                                                            (I'd NEVER throw away a home-baked gift somebody gave me when I was teaching, or now for that matter... I'm not paranoid about what I eat when it's something baked (I'm a little squicky about leftovers but that's an entirely different issue! Baked goods are perfectly safely stored at room temperature for days). I'm not sure what people think went into the food to make it hazardous? A side of rat poison? I can't think of any kind of baked good that wouldn't be sanitised simply by the act of baking it. Ovens are HOT. Refer back to the 'magic kitchen' thread lol)

                                                          3. re: pinehurst

                                                            I completely agree! I have kept notes from students since I began teaching more than a decade ago. They are always a pleasure to read. I can't say the same thing about all gifts.

                                                            1. re: earthygoat

                                                              I have a big folder with notes from students. And emails I've printed out. I go through it when I'm in one of the tough phases of teaching.

                                                            2. re: pinehurst

                                                              I too am a teacher. Unless I know the family well, I'm not eating the homemade treats. Gifts are always appreciated, but certainly not expected. No teacher I have ever worked with has been offended to receive a personal note or card from a parent (or, even better, student) and nothing else.

                                                              Do not feel cheap for not giving a gift. The teacher will not think poorly of you for it.

                                                            3. To the teachers responding, thank you! It is incredibly refreshing to hear you all say a hand written note from students is appreciated and your gift of choice!

                                                              15 Replies
                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                at my school...it some how became a tradition for parents to get together and leave food in the teachers lounge the week before break.. with cards from kids and families...bowls of chex mix and a cooler of soda things like that to make the days festive.... they seem to realllllllllllly like it.

                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                  I recall from my PTO days parents doing much the same thing at every holiday (right before a school break) or for Teacher of the Year or if a teacher rec'd a state award. But I have to be honest, it was mostly PARENT appreciation. The students had very little to do with it.

                                                                  If your school has hit the giving nail on the head, that's great! I believe there are other creative ways to say thank you to educators.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Agree, J. I guess I understand people being cautious about eating gifts from people they don't know very well, but the waste in time, effort and food is appalling.

                                                                    Isn't there a better way to do this?

                                                                    1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                      Not to in cases where you're unsure or the relationship you have with your child's teacher is comfortable enough that you can ask a holiday gift question or two to get some ideas. You see, we always had a classroom Mom who would and could help the rest of us determine what was appropriate. I find today that parents are the ones going overboard and their children have little input. If the gift is from a student, it should be appropriate at their level of giving. So, my perspective remains, pool resources with fellow parents, collectively decide what's appropriate from the class and allow the students to present their gift. Now, I'm talking grade school. Gifting teachers beyond the 5th grade starts to get confusing for me. By Jr High/HS, no way.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        That makes a lot of sense. This current system seems quite bizarre to me. I don't know if they still have Moms that coordinate those classroom activities. My Little Chef's Mom does a lot of that but I don't think she's officially a "classroom Mom."

                                                                        I do know from another friend that local schools here have "bake sales," but all products must be purchased from a grocery store and commercially packaged. Then they re-sell them as a "fundraiser." That is truly self-defeating, a bad lesson for children and a waste of time. These activities all seem to leave the kids out and sets a bad example for them. What a great teaching opportunity it could be!

                                                                        1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                          So true. I follow you completely. I don't believe Class Moms are still around, our school now hires aides if extra help is needed and volunteering parents join PTO. But the budget some PTO's can grow in a year of fundraisers is pretty amazing to me for public school. While I'm at it, the buy something to make something (for PTO) scenario never worked for me either. I just wrote a check and didn't buy anything. I always thought it was a waste to give the tinker co. my money when the Art dept needed it MORE. I know I'm not alone in these ideas, I was just more vocal about it.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            I do that with kids who sell candy bars outside of stores. I give them some cash and tell them to save the candy for someone else.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              Our elementary schools still have class mothers. PTO bake sales use baked goods that are made by the mothers/kids in the school home ec rooms under the home ec teacher's supervision/inspection.
                                                                              No problem with whose home is acceptable, and the school rules on no nuts/peanuts are strictly enforced.
                                                                              The biggest fundraisers are held by the fathers club, mostly involving year round candy sales in the school store. It's illegal for the school to sell students candy, but the fathers club can do it. Just as they can sell soda and other non-healthy items.

                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                That's interesting and also illustrates how differently schools operate town to town and state to state. In NJ, some schools don't have school stores, PTO's or class Moms. Some teachers have 40 kids in their class. But fundraising appears to be a very common thread, assumed activity in all schools. How the fundraiser is coordinated varies widely.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  We live in a suburban town of 30,000 that still has volunteer fire service and many stay at home moms so volunteerism is high.

                                                                                  Fundraising is used to buy things not in the school budget. Our local property taxes are quite high (I pay 15K)and many older residents without school age children vote to restrict the schhol budget each year. School sports are 'pay to play' so the bake sales, etc. fund buses, uniforms, etc to make the fees paid by the students nominal. Election day cake sales are a huge fundraiser. Since not all schools are polling places, they take turn which PTO runs the bake sale each November.

                                                                                  Fathers club runs monthly spaghetti and movie night, New Years day breakfast and auction. Spring BBQ and fall camprife. All cooking done at the school and under professional supervision. No one questions the food safety of these projects for that reason.

                                                                            2. re: sandiasingh

                                                                              That's not a bake sale... that's a complete and utter waste of time, energy, and money, and an abomination against nature (okay, yes I love bake sales... I love to bake, and I love eating stuff other people have baked!) If the school is going to be such a bunch of spoilsports, just give them the amount that their 'approved store-bought goods' would have cost and be done with it.

                                                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                We do a hybrid at our bake sales. Some store bought goods in labeled packages for the allergy sensitive, some homemade goods. Ring Pops are always a huge seller.

                                                                          2. re: sandiasingh

                                                                            The way around is to not send homemade food. Just the "hostess gifts" I receive are rarely eaten.

                                                                        2. We've been doing gift cards for our kid's teachers for the past few years. Since everyone is busy enough as-is in December, we simply coordinate (if not already coordinated by other parents) a collection of money. A suggested $5 or less per student household is fine ...... which usually works out to a good $40-75 total, as some households give way more than the suggested amount. That buys a very decent gift card from a local department store or supermarket which the teachers really appreciate being able to spend at their own leisure.

                                                                          Like someone said, many teachers pay for class items out of their own pockets in addition to volunteering extra time for school activities. Our province's school teachers make very decent wages but cost of living is high in our city, so every bit counts.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                            my mom spends about 40.00 dollars a week on her class...

                                                                          2. As I said in the other thread, I don't want baked goods from anyone, particularly people that I barely know. I'd rather have a $10 gift card to Starbucks (which I don't really even like but I would use it) or even $10 gift card for gas! And that is not because I am in financial trouble but more because gas is still over $4/gallon where I live!

                                                                            In my kids school, there are group gifts for the teachers, and this year, instead of adding a gift card, I am going to contribute to a scholarship fund in honor of the teachers. They will get a note saying that a donation has been made in their name and it will help students who can't afford college.

                                                                            Regardless of what you decide...chocolates, gift card in small amount, etc, personally I think it still better than baked goods.

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: valerie

                                                                              <I think it still better than baked goods>

                                                                              If a teacher is truly grateful for her students and what they give to him/her…
                                                                              Then they simply say 'thank you so much for your thoughtfulness' to the student who's spent a ton of time preparing the baked goods and then do whatever they need to do with them. Throw them out, give them away or whatever.
                                                                              But, whatever the teacher does, please do not humiliate the child or parent for doing so.
                                                                              Talk about bad kharma.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                "please do not humiliate the child or parent for doing so."


                                                                                1. re: valerie


                                                                                  Pretty simple.

                                                                                  I knew a teacher, who upon receiving homemade cookies/candy from a student, reprimanded the student for doing so.
                                                                                  She made a point of saying she doesn't eat sugar or white flour and told the child she'd give the gift away.
                                                                                  Highly inappropriate and completely humiliating for the student.

                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                  Nobody has said anything about trashing the items IN FRONT of the child. Yikes!

                                                                                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                    A teacher who doesn't go out of their way to make sure the student/child understands how grateful they are isn't 'trashing' anyone…

                                                                                    Let's just say the absence of gratitude from the teacher, or the explanation from the teacher that they don't eat sugar or flour, isn't really very nice, is it?
                                                                                    A child who takes the time to make something handmade for a teacher, whether it be edible or otherwise, deserves a very warm and gracious 'thank you' even if the teacher intends to throw it away.

                                                                                  2. re: latindancer

                                                                                    "If a teacher is truly grateful for her students and what they give to him/her…"

                                                                                    I kinda doubt there'd be any teachers out there who wouldn't be grateful to the students. If there are teachers like that, they'd need to make some serious attitudinal adjustments.

                                                                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                                      <make some serious attitudinal adjustments>

                                                                                      I do work with teachers/students in a particular well-known school district.
                                                                                      I'm shocked at the amount of teachers who, seriously, don't enjoy what they're doing and they take out their frustration on their students.
                                                                                      They certainly don't display any gratitude to the students, actually quite the contrary.
                                                                                      I'm a great admirer of teachers who work with children, in all areas, but when they're burnt out it's time to call it quits.

                                                                                3. If anyone receives a basket of home-baked goods at holiday time, with or without a box of TJ's or whomever's chocolates, and thinks ANYTHING other than, "what a nice gift, how thoughtful," they don't deserve it in the first place.
                                                                                  Seriously: if someone took the time to bake me something and wrap and deliver it, I would be delighted no matter what (else) the package contained.
                                                                                  It truly is the thought that counts, and I'm sure they'll receive it in the proper spirit.

                                                                                  49 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                      Yeah, I'm pretty taken aback by the response to home-baked goods here. I think my family/friends/coworkers would revolt if I didn't make toffee for the holidays.

                                                                                      I always receive a few packages of home made goodies around the holidays. If it's too much for my household of 2, I just put them out for the inevitable parade of holiday visitors.

                                                                                      My favorite friend's mom occasionally throughout the year bakes me cookies, scones, biscotti or my favorite whoopie pies (that's why she's my favorite friend ;) Would I like to say hold the biscotti and double up on the whoopies? Sure. But I gratefully accept what she has kindly made for me.

                                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                                        FWIW, Friends and Family are in a completely different category.

                                                                                        Co workers would only be in that same friends category...if they were truly "friends".

                                                                                        Very different.

                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                          Right. I was responding and reading replies focused on the question the OP presented.

                                                                                        2. re: gaffk

                                                                                          I've always baked for christmas any year that I've been well enough to do so... and as far as I can tell, the recipients have always been pleased. I take plates to elderly friends, a plate to the library (where they know me because I'm a volunteer), and I have to say that one year I was GOING to take some in to the post office to thank them for all their hard work, but I chickened out because I didn't know if they'd eat them or throw them away so I didn't... last year I was in physical therapy in December so I baked a cake for the therapists. I'm tossing up whether to take something in to the hospital gym where I do my exercise, because I don't know the staff personally.

                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                            Kim, after the recipe I got from you, I'D totally revolt if you didn't make your toffee.

                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                              I'm actually going to make a batch today :)

                                                                                              Hope you are enjoying the recipe.

                                                                                          2. re: mamachef

                                                                                            Hear, hear. Mamachef is spot on. I've never, never, never understood the hostility against gift-givers that is so often expressed on CH.

                                                                                            And FWIW, for many years our favorite public school teacher and his wife dropped off home-baked goods at our home at holiday time!! Exchanging food at holiday time is a welcome tradition where I live. And if it's against the law or rules elsewhere, those are places that I don't want to live.

                                                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                              I've never read those types of comments as hostile. Some folks are being practical. Honest. Don't agree. Nothing wrong there.

                                                                                              Trying hard to arrive at a gift that WILL be appreciated and not regifted, thrown out or regretted sounds worth asking to me. Why not give a gift that suits the occasion and relationship? CH's contributing to this thread that are teachers have also described their preference.

                                                                                              This OP was focused on what to gift a teacher at school or instructors giving private lessons to children. It had nothing to do gifting to family, friends or personal connections.

                                                                                              If you have a personal connection to a public school teacher, a teacher who brings you baked goods, then it's not the same scenario this OP was presenting. Sure is a nice thing for that couple to do though!

                                                                                              1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                You are missing the point. Homemade gifts are always " appreciated" but are often a waste. Because they are re gifted or throw away. It is about being honest, here... Where you don't have to be overwhelmingly thankful to someone's face. Real teachers are responding...they are tossed in the trash.They are tossed in the trash!!!!!!

                                                                                                Too many unsanitary issues and situations where "junior" thought it would be " really rad" to see if making brownies out of dog food would taste good for Mr. Brown" (true story) ....garbage can.....
                                                                                                not hostile at all, just not appreciated as much as a nice card, a gift card, a nice letter....

                                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                  Obviously, our experiences are quite different. And just to be perfectly clear, our food gift was always accompanied by a handwritten thank you note and often another small non food item, such as a gift of small gold hoop earrings for our daughter's 5th grade teacher. I can tell you she did not throw them out in the trash because she wore them nearly every day for the next several years and I saw her regularly.

                                                                                                  also I really do not understand all the recommendations for gift cards. To me, nothing says you care to send the very least like a gift card. Talk about not getting to know someone before giving them a gift? Okay, I'm not going to bother to find out what you might or might not like, I'll just grab a Dunkin Donuts gift card here at the 7-Eleven while I'm getting my gas on the way to work.

                                                                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                    I would not throw out gold hoop earrings either...the homemade treats...in the trash. No one has said that jewelry would be thrown in the trash.

                                                                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                      I'm diabetic & allergic to anything metal that is not 22k gold. Unfortunately, I would not be able to wear the earrings or eat the baked goods. A gift card to Office Depot? That would be great for classroom supplies

                                                                                                      1. re: Kalivs

                                                                                                        if you were one of our children's teachers, I would have known you well enough by the time gift giving season rolls around that I would know you were unable to wear jewelry and that you had food issues. Why? Because one of the job that I had was too prepare food for students and teachers for various events. So what I would have had occasion to discuss any special dietary needs with you, just as I would with anybody else for whom I was preparing food. in our school district, the teachers each put out a binder at the beginning of the year with any school supplies that are needed, and those items on that wish list are filled by the parents. That happens long before the holiday season rolls around.that being said, if there was something that was needed at Office Depot, or elsewhere, we would have no problem with making a donation to fill the need, wholly separate from the gift-giving.

                                                                                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                          Thank you. That is very thoughtful of you and your children's school.

                                                                                                        2. re: Kalivs

                                                                                                          PS I apologize for my limited ability to edit for grammar, however, our power is out and I only have access via my telephone. It's extremely hard to edit CH posts on a phone.

                                                                                                      2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                        also, are you aware that a very high percentage of gift cards are never redeemed? Either never redeemed at all, or never fully redeemed. I've seen various figures, a 40 percent seems to be a generally accepted number. That means 40 percent of all gift cards purchased in this country, which is billions and billions of dollars, are never fully redeemed. According to at least one report, more than 40 billion dollars in unredeemed gift cards have been issued in the United States since 2005. And now of course, you don't even need to stop at the 7-Eleven to get a Gift Card. You can just buy a digital gift card online.

                                                                                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                          Well, you clearly have issues about gift cards. I like t I think if you ask teachers what they want (and they can answer anonymously, like here on the net) they will tell you that they frequently toss your homemade treats in the trash.

                                                                                                          I am sorry, I like gift cards myself , I can choose where and when to use them, if at all. you don't like that answer. It kind of sucks, I agree. But it is the truth.

                                                                                                        2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                          We've had students in our school try to poison teachers with turpentine in their coffee. Surely people can understand why teachers would be leery of eating home-made foods from students.

                                                                                                          1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                            I'm really sorry to hear that and I'm not trying to argue with you. I'm just trying to point out that there are places in the country where this type of food gift exchange is still very common, appreciated, and a treasured part of our traditions.

                                                                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                              in addition to exchanging food gifts with our children school teachers, we also regularly exchange food gifts with our family physician. And that is a mutual exchange. Last year, she made the most delicious spicy pecan-caramel clusters. I bring this up only to point out that there are still communities where this type of food exchange at the holidays is quite common. And to me, charming. But then again I'm not in a position, nor are my gift recipients in a position, to have any concern that turpentine or antifreeze or anything else poisonous might be contained in any of our gifts.

                                                                                                              1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                <And to me, charming>

                                                                                                                It certainly is. Places like you're describing are very far and few between. You're very fortunate.

                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                  "You're very fortunate. "

                                                                                                                  Apparently even more than I knew, after reading this thread and the related thread. Wowser.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                    There are parts of this country where life is simpler and people don't over think things.
                                                                                                                    They just treat people with kindness and try to do the right thing.
                                                                                                                    That's what I call 'fortunate'.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                      Even parts of NY, believe it or not.

                                                                                                              2. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                                I would never accept homemade gifts from strangers. It just isn't remotely worth it. Even to placate the "but I make the best brownie" type of mother. Too bad.

                                                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                  By the time holiday gift giving season rolled around, we were far from strangers. Both of us volunteered at the school, before, during, and after school, several days per week as our work schedules permitted. So believe me, by the time the holiday season arrived, we were on very close terms with all of our children's teachers. We would not imagine turning our kids over to people that we had absolutely no relationship with. So in no sense of the word were our kids' teachers strangers to us, and vice versa.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                    That is very nice and unique to your personal situation.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                      On this point we can agree. It is very nice. I do regret that more people, apparently, do not have this type of experience in their own communities.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                        I grew up in a small community that my parents and grandparents also grew up in. My mom taught in this community. Over her years of teaching, she eventually taught the children of former students. She still couldn't possibly eat all the baked goods they brought her.

                                                                                                                        And, yes, even when you know someone well, you still might not want to eat anything that comes out of their kitchen.

                                                                                                                        I know a lot of teachers and I don't know any who can eat all of the baked goods they receive or find a place for all of the knickknacks and lotions they receive. It's not a matter of not appreciating the stuff, I assure you. But, I'm sure they would also really appreciate something they didn't have to throw away when it's gone bad or find a spot for in their house.

                                                                                                                        And, when teachers spend thousands of dollars of their own money to buy stuff for their classroom, gift cards are amazingly important.

                                                                                                                        1. re: merkay

                                                                                                                          Seriously...some people just "have to give the cookie, because they are the BEST"... They will not accept that people really would rather have something else. It doesn't fit with their idea of the world.
                                                                                                                          Teachers give " Their own money!!!" weekly so your kids have what is needed to learn. Jebus. Give a gift card so they can buy their own kids stocking stuffers this year.

                                                                                                                          Former teachers wife.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                            Why do you assume that because in my community, where it is common to exchange food gifts at holiday time, that we do not also make substantial financial contributions? As stated above, we have a system for addressing any classroom needs. Also for your information, I typically do not give cookies as my cookies assuredly are not the "best ever." If you like gift cards, great. But please do not presume to speak for everyone because you were previously married to a teacher.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                              I was agreeing with and responding to merkay about teachers being showered with baked goods and small gifts they don't/can't use while the teachers are spending their own money on their students.

                                                                                                                              I don't know anything about your community and wouldn't comment on that.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                Okay, thanks for clearing that up. On my tablet, it looks like you were responding to my post. I must say that I find the mobile version of this site difficult to navigate. So that was my bad. Apologies.

                                                                                                                            2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                              Are you trying to suggest that parents should give gift cards to teachers so they can buy stocking stuffers for their kids because the teacher chose to spend money on the class rather than taking care of their own family first?

                                                                                                                              Sorry, not my problem.

                                                                                                                              1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                No. I was just discussing the painful truth that teachers don't make enough for the important work they do all year. Often, they give their own money to help other peoples children learn.

                                                                                                                                At holidays, if I am inclined to give gifts, I remind myself of that and choose my gift accordingly. When I gave teacher gifts, I would give gift cards for them to use either personally or professionally. It was up to them. They always seemed to appreciate it. I suspect some of the gift card money went to their own family gifts ( and not just for themselves) and I think that is fine.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                  This post (just one person's opinion off of Chowhound) has a like opinion, sedimental.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                    Thank you. Your post was a bit unclear.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                    Folks, the debate about what taxes should/shouldn't support in the classroom is getting really, really far away from whether or not to give teachers cookies, and we've removed a bunch of posts from here. It's a big, important issue, but not really a good fit for Chowhound.

                                                                                                                            3. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                              Mrs. Patmore and I must live in the same town, because it's the same way where I live.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                Just last week, I brought a homemade tray of pumpkin bars (that family's favorite) in an Emile Henry baking dish (also part of the gift) to my daughter's former high school teacher. Happiness and smiles all the way around. Also when one of our teacher's wife was ill, we took turns (dates and menus coordinated via an online calendar) bringing home-cooked meals to the house several times per week. Again, however, I underscore that this type of thing is very common here.

                                                                                                                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                  Well, the reason I thought about baked goods in the first place is that for our school plays and winter and spring holiday school concerts, the PTO hosts a bake sale during intermission for which parents donate baked goods and the money goes to the PTO. People buy the cookies, brownies, etc and eat them, there are no concerns about poisoning, etc. But, I live in a tiny town where everyone knows everybody else and their grandparents, so I can see that it might be different than a larger community. I'll save my baking energy for the holiday concert and do prepackaged candy and a card for teacher.

                                                                                                                          2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                            Never accept? Really? Would you make the little kid take the gift back home?

                                                                                                                            Not what my mama taught me about manners.

                                                                                                                          3. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                                            Wow. Attempted murder is huge turn off. Turpentine in the coffee?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                                              Where I taught, peeing in the coffee urn in the Faculty Room happened at least once a year. Candy given to a teacher turned out to contain Ex-lax. Some of the homes weren't very clean. Some of the "home-made" food had been given to the parents and was re-gifted and God knows how old it was.

                                                                                                                              I applaud the poster who wrote a personal thank-you to the teacher and enclosed a fancy chocolate bar like Godiva or See's. Great solution. But banana bread of unknown provenance, no, thank you very much. Not in these times.

                                                                                                                        2. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                          Well, you can appreciate the gesture even if you throw it away.

                                                                                                                        3. No. Not at all. In fact during my divorce years, I was really financially strapped and those times made for Teacher Gifts that were a huge hit. I went to the dollar store and purchased "tin" buckets..some green, some red. I made biscotti, did some chocolate covered pretzels added some other cookies, wrapped the tins and all went well!

                                                                                                                          1. My mom was a teacher for many years. I remember, every year on the last day of school before Christmas, she would come home with a giant box full of gifts and we would sort through it. Almost all of it got thrown away or donated.

                                                                                                                            Baked goods - we simply couldn't eat all of them and with a few there were always food safety concerns.

                                                                                                                            Candles and lotions - mom was sensitive to scents, and you can only use so many pine scented candles and cookie scented lotions anyway.

                                                                                                                            Ornaments - we only had one Christmas tree and actually had ornaments of our own that we wanted to decorate it with.

                                                                                                                            Mom always felt bad about getting rid of most of the gifts, but there was just too much.

                                                                                                                            The absolute best gifts were thoughtful cards and letters, and gift cards to replenish the personal funds she spent over the years.

                                                                                                                            Books for the classroom library are also always appreciated.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: merkay

                                                                                                                              Books for the classroom library are also always appreciated.
                                                                                                                              Wow, what a great idea!

                                                                                                                              1. re: merkay

                                                                                                                                I do sometimes wonder if the giver does this for their own gratification or is it just a matter of not thinking it through. I prefer to think the latter. Your mother's story is probably all too typical.

                                                                                                                              2. If you want to do something nice for your kid's teacher, give her supplies (pencils, paper, crayons, rulers, notebooks, etc.) that she can hand out to her students who cannot afford these items, rather than dipping into her own pocketbook as so many teachers do.

                                                                                                                                1. I'm a teacher... I'm probably not eating your baked goods. As in other years the parents pull together and donate money to the classroom fund and maybe a gift card or two for me and my staff. I'd much rather have a nice card .... Or even bring us coffee one day.
                                                                                                                                  Sorry but no baked goods.

                                                                                                                                  * after reading a few of these posts- we have had parents gET together and do big lunch for the building. We really appreciated that :)

                                                                                                                                  1. The problem with home-made food gifts to teachers is the volume - Christmas tends to be overloaded with foodstuffs in the first place anyways. If you're not a teacher, you may get one or two gifts of baked goods. If you are a teacher, you can get a dozen or more, as multiple the parents have the same idea. And all the other teachers have the same thing, so re-gifting/sharing in the break room is not practical. That's without issues of allergies, or individual willingness to eat food prepared by someone when you have no idea of their cooking standards.

                                                                                                                                    So they might well appreciate the through (although probably less so after the fifteenth box of cookies) the reality is that those cookies are likely to go straight into the trash.

                                                                                                                                    Stuff is a problem too. One mug is okay. A dozen mugs that say "World's best Teachers", piles of note paper, Christmas decorations, aprons - all suffer from overkill, and will be disposed of discretely.

                                                                                                                                    From a purely practical view I'd say the most useful thing would be to collect anonymous, voluntary donations from parents and present the teacher with a gift certificate to somewhere useful for their job (Staples, Home Depot, etc) and let the parents, if they want to, provide personally written notes.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                      I agree the abundance must be overwhelming (although sweet and thoughtful of the kids who want to show their appreciation). Which is why my first reply here talked about the trend to pool resources. For children in grade school, 20 or more kids in one class, one teacher (maybe an aide) pooling financial resources and offering one gift is such a sound choice and levels the gifting field because..another issue over individual gifting in the same classroom is the tendency (and I've seen it) of parents who can afford to be generous than another child's parents. Johnny gave Teacher Smith a $50.00 GC and Lucy gave Teacher Smith a mug with chocolates. These gifts are placed on the teacher's desk for all to see. it's not cool on the part of parents to be showy to their kids teacher.

                                                                                                                                    2. When my son was in third grade many moons ago, I contacted all of the parents to see if they would like to contribute to the purchase of an additional GeoSafari for the classroom (the teacher had already bought one of these on her own, and it was wildly popular). Some contributed a lot, some a little, some none. The teacher never knew who was who, but was very grateful. This is one of those very few situations where a gift of food is far from the best option.

                                                                                                                                      1. I really appreciate all the replies to this thread. I had no idea that home baked goods were unwelcome gifts by teachers, daycare providers, etc. As a non-teacher, I am thrilled on the rare occasion when someone gifts me with a home baked treat and I eat it happily, but if I was on the receiving end of the umpteenth basket of cookies in the week before the holidays, yes, I can absolutely see how they would end up in the trash. I have read all the varying viewpoints on this thread with much interest.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                          I don't think that home-baked goodies would necessarily end up in the trash (who would do that?), just that there are better options.

                                                                                                                                        2. I didn't scroll to read all responses, please excuse me if I'm echoing any other sentiments already expressed. I felt comfortable posting this how far down I did read. what I've done for teachers and adults in my kids lives who I feel deserve *something* are adult goodie bags. Typically individually wrapped candies. Lindt truffles, ghiradelli squares, almond roca & those choclate hazelnut balls (gold wrapper the name is escaping me right now). Chocolate espresso beans too if I can find the individual tubes. Looks nice when assembled and is identifiable as not home made and these brands are also "known"

                                                                                                                                          To the teachers I know really well a few airline sizes bottles that when mixed will make a good drink or will be a tasty shot on its own.

                                                                                                                                          To those I don't, an ornament or knickknack in place of alcohol.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                                                                                            For teachers, I would say not ornaments and knicknacks. 25 kids in a class, x Christmas and end of year, x 40 years of teaching is way more random ornaments or random stuff than one person needs.

                                                                                                                                            I suspect for teachers that do drink, alcohol would probably be appreciated at this time of year....

                                                                                                                                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                              Gee whiz, I retired 3 years ago after 31 years in the classroom.... I would have loved some Makers Mark from the parents.... but then again those kids would have had a hungover teacher to deal with!!LOL

                                                                                                                                          2. To anyone who feel compelled to create baked goodies over the next few weeks and who know for sure they'll have excess supplies, please send them to me. I will provide you my mailing address .........


                                                                                                                                            1. Diabetic, gluten-free, on a diet, just don't want to look at sugar bombs but feel guilty throwing them out. Kinda resent it but politely say thank you.

                                                                                                                                              1. What a fascinating thread! My mother was a teacher. My brother and I LOVED her last day of school before Christmas vacation because it was an early Christmas for us -- she let us open all her gifts and cards! I never, ever remember her receiving home baked goods though I assume that, if she did, and unless she had particular reason to be untrusting of the child's family or the cleanliness of the house, we would have kept them and enjoyed them as a family. I do recall her receiving pre-packaged food items, like candy or chocolates, and that is precisely what we did. I particularly remember the time she got one of those "towers" from Harry and David. We couldn't afford such things ourselves, so my brother and I were SO PUMPED to finally experience "moose munch" or whatever it was called.

                                                                                                                                                I do agree that the lotions, knick knacks, ornaments etc., while appreciated, just sort of took up space. None were ever immediately trashed, but most eventually ended up there. That being said, I think there are still a few "World's Best Teacher" mugs hanging around my parents' house.

                                                                                                                                                As others have said, I appreciate the diversity of opinion expressed in this thread. As an adult, the past 3 years I have given my super a tin of cookies along with a card and a substantial holiday bonus check. The first year I never got a reply (cranberry macadamia nut cookies); last year he ran down the block after me one morning in January to thank me for the cookies and ask me if they had coconut in them (they did; different recipe). If not for that response last year, I would be nixing the idea of cookies all together this year and sticking to just the check, based on this thread. Not sure what to do now, but you have all given me some food for thought!

                                                                                                                                                1. Home made gifts for teachers is very appropriate. If these are to be gifts from young students it provides a learning opportunity for the youngster to help in the kitchen with the creation of the gift. Thay way, they truly get into the spirit of giving.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                    Home made crafts like decorations and ornaments are appropriate. Home made food is not.

                                                                                                                                                  2. For curiosity's sake, how do you all feel about school bake sales where parents make goodies to be sold as a fundraiser? I always bake for them and buy items and eat them happily. If I don't win the cakewalk and somebody else wins two cakes, I'm bummed! My spouse and mother, on the other hand, won't even touch something baked and donated by another parent. I always thought they were the weird, but after reading this thread, now I think that I am, LOL!!

                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                      I'm with you too. I support bake sales and honestly haven't given eating "stranger" food a second thought. But I don't, and didn't, give baked goods to teachers mainly because I'm not a baker and also because I figured they were swamped with food of all sorts at the holiday.

                                                                                                                                                      I am giving biscotti and chocolate shortbread to my team members. I know for a fact that they happily eat the food I make.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                        I regularly participate in and eat from bake sales. Our school community is small enough that I honestly don't give it a second thought, But I've also participated in charity food blogger bake sales, and bought from the food table at our church, and our church is huge. And neither I nor anyone I know has ever gotten sick from anything we've bought at a bake sale. We're in elementary though - I might feel differently in a public high school.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                          while I'm guessing that poisoned cookies have occurred somewhere, their conspicuous absence from the scaremonger press would indicate that these stories are pretty damned difficult to find.

                                                                                                                                                          I'll take those chances -- especially when compared to the possibilities of cross-contamination or nasty things found in commercially-prepared foods (for which there seems to be no lack of scaremonger press coverage...)

                                                                                                                                                          I'll proudly wear the PolyAnna badge with my rose-coloured glasses, but I simply will not be convinced that there is a statistically-significant percentage of school-parent populations out there hellbent on causing death and illness. I just won't.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                            This thread has been a real eye-opener for me. I had NEVER considered that bake sale items, items that moms send in for birthdays, office treats set out for sharing, etc., should be evaluated as possible safety threats. Amazing!

                                                                                                                                                            I plan to continue buying from every church and school bake sale I run across. There are some fine bakers around here!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                Whenever there's a dessert spread (which usually contains some store bought items - parents are busy!) I always head right for the homemade stuff. And I'm usually not disappointed. Had a mighty fine salted caramel rice krispy treat this weekend.

                                                                                                                                                            1. It's the thought that counts... I'm sure that they'll be just as happy with a SMALL homemade something delicious as a big fancy gift basket - they're not just getting a present from you after all. Music teachers have a hundred pupils (or so) and even if only a quarter of them want to give a christmas gift, that's a lot of stuff!

                                                                                                                                                              BTW, I used to BE a teacher before I was married... and you get a lot of tchotchkes(sp?). One person can only use so many coffee mugs... I preferred consumable gifts because you don't end up having to give them to the thrift store and feeling bad that you're giving away somebody's present! But I was delighted with anything that a student wanted to give me, even if it was just a hand-drawn card saying 'thank you for teaching me' and a single chocolate. You don't sit there and judge people on the value of their Christmas gifts unless you're a pretty shallow person.

                                                                                                                                                              1. I'm a teacher (formerly middle school, most recently elementary) & love getting baked goods (especially if they were good enough to ask for a recipe). I guess I'm pretty trusting too. Cards (with something meaningful written/created by the kids) rock too. I'd rather those than chocolates, which end up joining the giant stack in the lounge. Or teacher-themed stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                $20/teacher for multiple teachers is crazy! I can't imagine any teacher thinking you should do that.

                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: quirkydeb

                                                                                                                                                                  I have teacher friends who, because they're busy doing things like teaching and reading essays and sponsoring clubs, don't have time to do a lot of holiday baking.

                                                                                                                                                                  They're happy to have baked goods, both for their own families, and the "bring a dish" parties around the holidays.

                                                                                                                                                                  I had a few teachers who gave me money to buy the ingredients to make English toffee for them because I had time and they didn't....I couldn't count how many batches I carried to the school that year...!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                    It's wonderful, even after everything I've written here I wasn't suggesting baking was the wrong approach 100% of the time. But, I am wondering how much you spend. Because baking ingredients, batches of cookies and treats, aren't inexpensive to make. And quirkydeb mentioned that $20. per teacher is crazy!! Well, $20. spent making homemade baked goods isn't unusual.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                      When I bake, I do frequently find myself thinking how much cheaper it would be to buy the same (albeit usually inferior) thing instead. I missed the $2.50/lb sale on Land O' Lakes butter this year. :( And no access to Restaurant Depot. And I don't think Jacques Torres chocolate feves ever go on sale.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: quirkydeb

                                                                                                                                                                        At least half of my supplies last a couple of years (Karo syrup, chocolate morsels, cocoa powder, sprinkles, cans of almond paste); after all this time I know in my head what I'll need in advance, so I stock up all year when things are on sale. I don't count any of that in the cost anymore. A form of denial, I know.

                                                                                                                                                                        What I bought the last couple of weeks, for six batches of cookies: a box of Nilla wafers, a box of cake flour and some backup baking powder. In the old days, when I wasn't so used to it, I'd spend at least $100 to $200 on ingredients, not to mention fancy tins or plates to distribute the goodies, along with colored cello wrap and the ribbons with wire inside as a finishing touch, which added at least another $50. And I'm thinking back quite a few years at this point, not to mention I used to get most of it wholesale; it would surely be much more than that now.

                                                                                                                                                                        After this year, I think 2014 will be a homemade recipe book of the family favorites, I'm turning 60 in April so it seems a good time to pass the mantle of holiday baker to the younger generation. Never thought I'd say it, but this is my 38th year so I've paid my dues! And I've given everyone fair warning the last couple of Christmases. Too bad I always chicken out. But this year I am seriously trying to deplete my stock of holiday baking supplies, what I will replace the cookies with is the next question.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                        I bake en masse, so I buy at Costco or Sam's -- and I send/bring trays to our respective offices, my offspring give them to friends as gifts, and at least one platter finds its way to a party, so it's pretty well amortized. It's certainly less than $20 per teacher, and it's not yet another gift set of candles/lotions/etc to add to the teetering pile.. and reflects more time and effort than a gift card (although we sometimes do include a gift card -- usually an Amex or Visa card that can be used anywhere for anything)

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't send entire batches of cookies to teachers, either...it's usually a box with an assortment of cookies and candies -- a couple dozen cookies of several different kinds.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                          My thanks to all three of you for replying to my question. As a fellow home baker with decades of school gifting under my belt, office parties and business related giving still going strong, it's refreshing to hear your thoughts on what you spend, where you plan ahead and how you approach baked goods/giving.

                                                                                                                                                                          I know that the baking often exceeds the value of some GC's I've given. Time and the individual preferences wins out over cost many times. Quality ingredients aren't getting any cheaper but that wouldn't stop me from baking and doing my best to source ingredients by shopping around.

                                                                                                                                                                          When I was suggesting earlier in the thread about pooling resources being my favorite way (back in my day) to show teacher appreciation that concept varied from pooling ingredients and piling over one house with the kids and baking all day (gingerbread boys & girls) or baking at our own homes and adding a short stack of each cookie variety into one basket. Both worked well and the kids made the cookies with supervision. Added a card. Teachers enjoyed it.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Also, keep in mind there may be legal restrictions on gifts to teachers. We seemed to get an e-mail every year about the state's (MA) restrictions on gifts to public employees. I think any gift(s) of more than $25 value total in a single year from a single student is forbidden. And gifts (but not homemade cookies) such as gift cards (and snowman ornaments) are counted in this.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Teachers get TONS of food items, both home made and purchased, that last til Easter, or later. Prepackaged food (e.g., chocolates) can at least be regifted as, say, a hostess gift, which in a way is a gift of time.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Had one child in a school where teacher gifts were prohibited (YEAH). Card were okay. Another child in a school where the gift had to be $15 or less. Starbuck gift cards, or Barnes and Noble gift cards worked there (and the note).In high school the parents sent baked goods to the teacher's lounge. Maybe they were brave to eat. Personally as a pediatrician, I wouldn't trust the cleanliness of any home made food. All those willing sticky fingers ( with who knows what on them) touching dough is enough to make me
                                                                                                                                                                        cringe. Oh yes, do not give homemade wonders to your pediatrician.

                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: meinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                          cookies get baked at 375 degrees the sticky finger prints are long burned off....

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: meinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                            We get food dropped off at the rescue squad I volunteer at around the holidays. I'm always shocked when people actually eat it. Some of the houses we go to are horrific...I have no confidence in food from people whose kitchen I haven't been to.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                              some of the kitchens of restraunts you eat in are horrid too... the chances are that people who care enough to drop cookies off at the rescue squad are the same kind of people who care about basic cleanlinness of their kitchen....
                                                                                                                                                                              People who love to give the gift of food are usalllllllllllllllly also people who care enough about the whole process of cooking to be careful...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately, I know that not to be true. 15 years of public safety has taught me that being a kind, giving person and having a filthy home are not mutually exclusive.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                  Restaurant kitchens are inspected, home kitchens are not. Many home cooks have no clue about food safety issues.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Just had to give this a bump :) I met a woman who taught for 40 years and told her about this thread. She smiled ruefully and said PLEASE don't give baked goods or any homemade food item. Or ornaments. Or coffee mugs. When I said some had mentioned things like Starbucks gift cards, she thought that was a great idea. Along with a hand written note. Those notes she really treasures.

                                                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                I guess cookie exchanges are out, too? Here in East Podunk, we still do cookie exchanges around the holidays and we have plenty of teachers that participate. After re-reading most of this thread, I realize that I need to more fully appreciate where I live. Because obviously the concept of homemade food exchange is far from universally appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                But to your point, c oliver, I honestly hate gift cards and could never bring myself to buy one let alone give one as a gift. If I were in that predicament (and as stated upthread, thankfully, I'm not), I would put a $10, $20, $50, $100 or whatever amount of cash in an envelope and hand it to my intended recipient. From the statistics that I've read, a very large percentage of gift cards go unused (in whole or in part), which is why retailers love them so much. See, e.g., http://business.time.com/2012/01/09/b...

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                                                                  Mrs Patmore

                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you completely.
                                                                                                                                                                                  maybe smaller towns smaller populations, more quaint surroundings.
                                                                                                                                                                                  it doesn't matter much how many agree or disagree we all have our own thoughts on this subject.
                                                                                                                                                                                  many teachers and I have become friends over the years or were friends before our kids ever attended one of their classes. it's a personal thing, not so much a professional thing. I also remember 2 that were diabetic, so certain guidelines have to be met there obviously. a couple of tickets to the local theater is good for them or a free hair appointment.

                                                                                                                                                                                  it's a nice thought to buy a gift card or any type of written appreciation for a person who has your precious child in their care for hours on end every day. and when one or more of our children sing their teachers' praises, their comments ring loud and clear and get noticed by me and their father.

                                                                                                                                                                                  taking the time to think about the type of person the teacher is, what their personality reflects, then do a baked something or get a kitchen item or maybe make a gift for them. that takes a heck of a lot more effort on my part in my opinion. it shows to me anyway, that I thought about the individual I was doing this for.

                                                                                                                                                                                  a gift card is special to me if it's from maybe the local bake shop or breakfast joint or*mocha's galore* keyosk.
                                                                                                                                                                                  but conversely if the teacher is a sports enthusiast, loves baseball, or is the local little league umpire, that's a great help to me also. oh here's one¨: our daughters' football coaches all 4 years were also her calculus, Spanish and Paragon teachers. mostly though she praised their brilliance in the art of coaching football and lauded them with compliments to us at home constantly.
                                                                                                                                                                                  2 of them I knew very well, whereas the 3rd was also a casual friend and city councilman. I won't say what those 3 men got every year for Christmas but I will say it was bought, in a bag from most people's favorite part of the supermarket here in California anyway. they were $35 a piece and I couldn't have been happier to give these as our thank you every year..........however, NEVER did they not get pies or cakes or brownies and at every game all 4 years, I made batches of chocolate chip cookies for the team bus to their games. Did I ever get a please don't do that any more? uh let me think about that, no. instead she'd get, did your mom bake us anything for the game or are the coaches sharing that cinnamon apple pie with any of the players.

                                                                                                                                                                                  nuff said, and Mrs Patmore it's a happy time to spend hours in the kitchen doing things that take effort and thought to people that have brought goodness and happiness to your children, strongly agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oy, I think I'll unstar this thread! Never the twain shall meet, after months of feedback. (Just kidding, I'm still here).

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                      coll, yep at this point I'll unstar it as well. I'm not surprised at . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree, we're going nowhere, fast ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                          other than speeding hellbound toward the conclusion that just like any other group of people, some teachers dig baked goods, and some don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                            That's my point, I felt like it was all said and done back in December. Not sure why a revival is necessary, as it's been somewhat contentious with not much give and take on either side. That's why I'm opting out myself. I get the message, no more baked goods as gifts or people will talk.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As Rodney Dangerfield said, I'm a lover not a fighter! No one's going to win this argument.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, *I* gave it a bump cause I met the very nicest woman who taught for 40 years and just about choked laughing when I told her about this :) I suppose that CHs continue to be interested in other opinions...and perhaps change theirs. I have MANY times here.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                but yet I've had teachers fall all over themselves thanking me for the baked goods (way, way beyond a simple, Oh, Thanks for the cookies) -- and had a few more ask me to bake for them (because they had no time) or to bake things for faculty meetings (which I'm more than happy to do).

                                                                                                                                                                                                If I knew of a teacher who had dietary restrictions, or who had communicated a lack of desire to receive such things, I'd comply without a further word.

                                                                                                                                                                                                We all have to tailor our gifts to the situation and to the audience.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think when giving any kind of gift, it's important to think about whether we're pleasing ourselves or trying in a serious way to please the recipient. The lady I spoke with is a most genteel Southern lady who taught for 40 years. Not a mean bone in her body that I've been able to see so I have no reason to think her heart isn't in the right place. If one is baking to get a warm and fuzzy feeling but the recipient tosses it in the trash, isn't the purpose of giving defeated? Just asking. I do remember a close friend, who KNEW I didn't dig desserts, baked me the gloppiest, most chocolate-y cake for my birthday one year. I wanted to scream WTF? But, of course, since I was at her home I had to gag down the small piece I could score. Oh, thanks, SO much, my friend :(

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't know of any school district where it's permissible for a teacher to accept a cash gift from a parent.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                        Here it is from the CA Teachers Assn. code of ethics:

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Shall not accept any gratuity, gift, or favor that might impair or appear to influence professional decisions or action."

                                                                                                                                                                                        So that wouldn't preclude money. I think the idea of a class of parents going together for something, money or otherwise, is a great idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                          teachers in Florida are not particularly well-paid, and budget cuts continually trimming the money for stupid stuff like toilet paper and tissues, many of these folks end up digging into their own wallets to make up the slack.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Gift cards to Office Depot to help pay for supplies are always welcome -- but we tended to (collectively - all the parents) do that on an ongoing basis, not just at the holidays.

                                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                      I found the thread interesting because I went to private schools and we rarely ever gave gifts to the teachers. The same is true for the prep school my sons attend. What we do have is the Parent's Association funding a staff luncheon via donations, both at Christmas and at the end of the school year. But individual gifts from everyone? No.

                                                                                                                                                                                      However, my mother's best friend taught in Catholic schools for decades and I remember her talking about all the gifts she received. And yes, most of it went into the trash. Cheesy candles, mugs and christmas ornaments seemed to be common. But she loved the thank you cards.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Even if my sons wanted me to bake cookies or a cake for the teachers, I'd still say no because I know people's appreciation for food widely varies and I'm not going to waste time on something that may very well be thrown away. A class party is different, as kids will eat anything!

                                                                                                                                                                                    5. >>Baked Goods as Gifts For Teachers

                                                                                                                                                                                      After reading many of todays headlines about teachers being arrested and the main reasons...a cake with salt peter and also a hacksaw blade in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Saw that this old thread was bumped and being the OP, I thought I'd give an update. I ended up giving the teacher good quality chocolates and a handmade card from our child. Child said teacher received more than a dozen boxes of chocolate. Teacher did not send a thank you card or email, so next year I will just stick with the handmade card. I guess there is such a thing as too much chocolate!