Who deserves a present more?
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: I am room mom for my fifth grader and am organizing a group gift. Typically, one-third to one-half of the class joins in, but there's no pressure. Plenty do their own thing, or nothing at all.
When my kids were younger (and I had fewer), I would bake a large tray of baklava around the holidays and package that up for gifts around school. I did this until my mother-in-law, who taught for years, told me how much sweet stuff teachers receive around the holidays and how hard it is for those with health issues or those trying to watch their weight. I started to really think about the gifts then.
My youngest is in preschool, and my two older kids are in public elementary. For the first time, I realized how many supplies teachers were purchasing from their own money. I mean basic supplies like pencils and paper. I've found that if you ask the teachers what they would like for the holidays, they invariably come up with something for the classroom.
This year, our teacher told me she would like to purchase books for her class. I sent out an e-mail to the parents and told them to send an envelope home with my daughter if they wanted to participate. I told them to give whatever they were comfortable with, and I have already collected enough to give the classroom library a little boost.
When I give it to the teacher, I plan to enclose a note with any current coupons for the bookstore and maybe a link to a couple of my articles so she can stretch the gift a little farther. She was pretty excited when I told her that AAA gives a 10 percent discount on Barnes & Noble's website ...
I'm planning to give my son's teacher some math aids I know he's been eyeing that I was able to get for a good price after some searching around. The truth of the matter is, in this economy, with budgets and salaries trimmed to the bone, a great public education isn't free, and we should do what we can to help our kids get the best they can.
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!