Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Meaningless Gifts

Thanks for all the nice comments about the new bedroom decor!  You guys rock.  Jamie suggested using books to raise up the right hand lamp to the level of the left one, and it worked beautifully!  You're so smart!

So I have a dilemma.  The room parent is organizing a fall party for one of my girls' classes.  The note home said "feel free to bring in 22 non-food trinkets for the class."

A+ for saying "non-food."  My kid does not need 22 pieces of candy a few days before Halloween.  I am being 100% truthful when I tell you that we still have candy from last Halloween (and last Christmas, and last Easter....) in the house.  Mean Mommy does not let the children eat much candy.  Seriously, look at all the candy.

I took this, consolidated it all down into the blue bowl, threw some away,
and then promptly found ANOTHER container of candy.
Here's my problem, though...  We already do Valentine's day, and there will probably be a "holiday" party.  So, assuming that everyone participates, that means my kids will be bringing home 66 trinkets or pieces of candy per year.  Each.

132 is a lot.

I have two kids.  So assuming I spend twenty bucks to get these cute witches broom pencils for the class, times 2 kids in school, times 3 occasions per year...  That's $120 a year for a bunch of clutter.  (Or ~200 trinkets and $180 when Jack is in school!)

Furthermore, these transactional gift giving occasions - where you're required to get something for each child, and each child is required to get something for your child - I think they detract from the true meaning and spirit of what gift giving is supposed to be about.  How can I expect my kids to understand gratitude and generosity and those really important values when they're getting a bag full of cheap plastic crap from China three times a year?  (At the beginning of the school year I divided up all the pencils we got last year into two bags and sent them to the girls' teachers for their classrooms - and I still had a ton left.)

On the other hand, though, I don't want my kid to be the one jerk who shows up without something.  I don't want them to be singled out for not participating. I don't want them to feel uncomfortable if all their friends bring them something, but they don't have anything to give in return.

So what do I do?  Do I hit "reply all" and say, "Really?  Let's skip the trinkets!" and link to the blog (that is a VERY bad idea, no one should read this blog).  Do I just suck it up and send the trinkets and find something cheaper to buy in bulk to send?  Please tell me that this madness will end sometime in the next couple of years!

Love and kisses,


Pamela said...

What an imposition to have to spend that kind of money! It might not be a lot for the room mom, but I can guarantee that somebody will be going hungry or fed a non-nutritive meal because of requests like that. (Not saying it would be your kids... but I was a teacher Before Children, and it happens. A lot.)

Pam said...

I agree, that's a lot of money to spend on crap that I'm sure none of the parents want brought home! Maybe ask how they'll be distributed? I would think the teacher/room parent would try to organize it in such a way that it isn't apparent who brought what. Surely there are some kids in the class whose parents really can't afford to spend money on something like that, and I hope they would try to avoid a situation where those kids would feel bad about it. If you do end up deciding to bring something, what about foam stickers? Kids love stickers, you can buy a big container for pretty cheap, it's something that will get used instead of just accumulating in the junk bin.

Bev said...

I've said for years that we are selling this country to China through the trade imbalance while we continue to purchase plastic lawn ornaments and other cheap trinkets.

Stepping down from my soapbox: I suspect that if you did hit "Reply All" most, if not all, of the parents would agree to not have this junk exchange. But, I do like the suggestion about stickers because they are something that will get used and I too would not want to put my kids in the position of being the only non-participants.

Rob Monroe said...

Don't link to the blog - just don't. :)

Go with something useful - pencils, pens, fun erasers. We got through pencils like crazy at home, and they are super cheap. Oh, get stuff with the company name and use it as free marketing! (Or go to a bank and ask for their freebees and tell them why! We got 24 water bottles and 24 cinch-style backpacks last summer for church!)

Or... You have a kid and a dog, go with the easy and affordable thing and do 22 flaming bags of poo.

KaityK said...

Maybe, instead of everyone bringing a ton of crap, they could ask each parent to chip in $5.00 and have a pizza party! That way, no one goes home with bags of candy, and little plastic toys, but instead they just have a fun party for the kiddos. Do you think she would be agreeable to that? Maybe not for Halloween, if she's already bought the little baggies, but for Christmas and/or Valentine's Day?

angel0199 said...

I agree. That is why I try to do a craft or single party favor instead of goodie bags for my kids parties. However it isn't worth the fight at school. If you don't want to send something in, don't . No one will know who brought in what except maybe the teacher or room mom. Those individuals already know you give to the school in other, more valuable ways. If you get sucked in and want to send something I usually do stickers. They are cheap and consumable. I keep the ones we get in a big ziplock and use them for crafts and handmade cards.

Unknown said...

What about bringing in food or trinkets or money to give to someone ELSE? I know there are organizations that will take your "leftover" (or whatever mom doesn't want the kids to eat...) Halloween candy & ship it off to troops overseas. There's also a group called Solider's Angels (.org)--what if the class "adopted" a soldier and on those holidays, everyone contributed something to put in a care package? Yes, you're still sending money, but at least it's going to a more worthy cause & not laying around your house in the form of cheap plastic from China... AND it would teach all the kids the meaning of giving & helping others... -Maggie

Tanja said...

A craft would be good.

But really I don't understand why each kid has to bring 22 things. Wouldn't it be better if each child brought 1 thing (or 2 maybe) and they get mixed up in a bag and then each child can take out (blindly) 1 (or 2) trinkets. Way more fun, too - to then see what each of your friends got. I think I would suggest this to the parents.