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December 16, 2009 2:35 PM   Subscribe

ChristmasAngstFilter: What should I give to the workers at our day care?

I am at my peak of Christmas shopping stress, and I just realized that I should probably do something nice for the workers at my daughter's day care. They are terrific, and underpaid, and deserve some recognition. If you are or have ever been employed at a day care center, what gift would you want?

There are about 30 employees, and at least half of them have had extended contact with my daughter since she's been attending. So I don't think it would be fair to just give private gift certificates to anyone. Plus, she's going to be there a while longer, and will be interacting with the other half of them pretty soon. Every last one of them knows her by name.

I am thinking of putting together a gift basket and having it taken to their break room. (There was a previous thread about gifts for daycare workers, but it was oriented toward personal, take-home gifts.) Is it holiday overkill to do candy and chocolate? Hot drink mixes? Headache medicine (ha ha)? What would have helped you get through your day as a daycare worker?
posted by Knowyournuts to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like the kind of thing that Edible Arrangements was made for.
posted by hermitosis at 2:44 PM on December 16, 2009

I don't know about your daycare, but teachers often pay out of their own pocket to bring special supplies in for their classes. A group gift card to Staples, or maybe a more age-appropriate craft supply or teaching store would be appropriate and used. (Maybe tuck that into a gift basket or something.)
posted by phunniemee at 2:48 PM on December 16, 2009

Fairytale Brownies! The nice thing is they last longer than fruit and other seasonal gifts. They can be frozen for later too if folks are overwhelmed with all the food gifts. They come in an wonderful assortment and are some of the best brownies I've ever had. We have a company that sends them to our office and it we always look forward to their arrival. =)
posted by cainiarb at 2:50 PM on December 16, 2009

Best answer: it's not the same job, but it's similar - when i worked at a portrait studio every year our corporate offices sent a "getting through the holidays" gift basket. the two most popular were the petit fours and the lots of little snacks (snack sized/fun sized pretzels, candy chips, hard candy, etc). i think your idea of headache medicine is actually a really good one, as well as your idea of hot drink mixes - cider, cocoa, coffee.
posted by nadawi at 2:51 PM on December 16, 2009

Caution, caution! If you're wanting to bring food, I'd actually ask one of the supervisors there what's acceptable. For example, the brownies link appears to feature many brownies with nuts in them, and at the preschool where my wife works, those would be immediately confiscated and rushed out the door for fear that some poor little allergic shaver would touch/breath/come within eyeshot of them. Day cares have lots and lots of rules about food issues, so it'd be best to ask first.
posted by Skot at 3:09 PM on December 16, 2009

Vodka. Obviously not something you could have sent to the break room. But man, when the holidays come those kids get crazy.

Let me throw in the fact that I did work in a daycare (although the place called itself a preschool and would correct anyone who called it a daycare instead of a preschool), so I'm not just pulling something out of my ass.

I also asked the wife, who had my job there before I did and is in education now. She said Firefly. So my guess is that alcohol would be good if she agrees with me.

Finding a way to get it to them might be a problem. Maybe a gift certificate would be a good route to go with that, although I have no idea if liquor stores do that.

And if you do this, please make sure you're not going to offend anyone who would be getting the presents.
posted by theichibun at 3:09 PM on December 16, 2009

Check with the principal if they have a pool, that's what my kids daycare does. We gave $10 per (current) teacher plus one $10 for the three floating staff. It all goes in a central pool and gets divided up among all the teachers evenly.
posted by IanMorr at 3:33 PM on December 16, 2009

I'm not a daycare worker, but someone once brought our staff a warm pan of apple crisp and a container of vanilla ice cream and we still talk about that glorious day, a year later.
posted by adiabat at 3:48 PM on December 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, great suggestions! Please keep them coming.

More information: Yes, the day care is an absolutely nut-free zone, thanks for reminding me to think of that when selecting brownie type. And yes, I suspect that alcohol would offend a few (bummer, cause those little liquor bottles sure are cute). Plus, I was hoping they could consume the treats during the workday, in the breakroom, instead of taking them home.

Or should I be aiming toward take-home items? Several of the employees are men, too.
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:48 PM on December 16, 2009

It's pretty much exactly these kinds of situations for which gift cards were invented. We always give them to teachers, assistants and whatnot, and they are always appreciated.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:26 PM on December 16, 2009

As the daughter and granddaughter of daycare providers, I can say with a lot of confidence that at the end of the day, those giant tins of popcorn were the best and most appreciated gifts. You get to snack on the popcorn all day in the breakroom, and then you use the tin to store supplies.

Mom and my grandmother felt awkward using bath goodies, and they'd sit unused in the closet for years. Take-home gifts, even food, meant my grandfather or I would use/devour it before they could.

But those giant tins of popcorn? Priceless, and a gift that keeps on giving. My grandmother passed away years ago, and my mom hasn't done daycare in over a decade, but one of those tins is still being used as a trashcan in mom's home office, and she remembers the kid it came from.
posted by juniperesque at 5:46 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a former daycare worker: cider and munchies. GOOD munchies. The popcorn tins sound great, so long as it's good popcorn and not like, the stuff that's neon orange.

I can't think of a better take-home gift than lotion, but every daycare worker has piles of lotion in a scent that they like, probably in their bag. I know I did. Don't worry about take home - feed them, and they will feel the love.

Also: I got gift cards to Borders from my employers last year (I'm a nanny) and loved the hell out of them. Bookstores are great if you're going to go the gift card route as if there's nothing the teacher wants for themselves, they can pick stuff up for the class.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:08 PM on December 16, 2009

Best answer: I was in a similar situation last week. I brought in one of those boxes of seedless satsuma oranges they sell at the store this time of year.

Next time I would buy two boxes, because the one box got vacuumed clean within just a few hours! I don't know if everyone was borderline suffering from scurvy, or if it was just that satsumas are tasty, delicious, and appealing. At any rate, definitely a winner!
posted by ErikaB at 7:45 PM on December 16, 2009

Those fabulous boxes of pears from Harry and David. And they do a mean gift basket if you prefer that . . . AND it will be delivered for you.
posted by bearwife at 9:35 PM on December 16, 2009

As a former daycare worker, I always appreciated better materials with which to do my job, distract and entertain kids. A new game for the computers, a new educational toy, etc. Bonus for electronic things that several kids can enjoy simultaneously, like a karaoke machine or a PS2 with one of the Buzz! Junior games.

I second, lacking that, the idea teaching supplies. Forgo the gift card and find out something in your budget the teachers need.

Also, something for the break room that the teachers might enjoy. A coffee grinder and brewer (with beans), a fruit infusion/filter pitcher, a popcorn machine, etc.
posted by cross_impact at 6:34 AM on December 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! I tried to incorporate many of them. Here's what I did:
Not a basket, but a reuseable container (a la the popcorn tins) that hopefully has a future in storing things.
Satsuma oranges - check
Hot drink mixes (chai, cocoa, herbal tea) - check
Headache medicine and throat lozenges - check
No nuts - check
Microwave popcorn with no hydrogenated oils - check
Sugary and non-sugary snacks - check

I would have loved to do fruit delivery or brownie delivery, but unfortunately I had to get the basket together asap before many of the staff went on vacation. I should have been thinking of it earlier.
I would have loved to do gift cards, but to buy 30 of them would have meant that each person got a tiny amount, so I decided that one basket to share at least looked better than, "Oh, $3 for me??? Um, thanks."
I also decided not to get a toy for the kids to use because there are about 10 "classrooms" for kids of varying ages (including infants), and I would have had to figure out what type of toy would be allowed/recommended/not redundant in each classroom, and I simply ran out of time.

Thanks again for the help, and I hope this thread will be looked at (maybe next year) by others who are more on top of their holiday shopping than I was.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:24 AM on December 18, 2009

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