Appropriate gift for the favor of bringing my child home from school 5 days/week for 4 months?
January 9, 2012 12:42 PM   Subscribe

What is an appropriate gift card amount to thank a friend who is bringing my son home from the school she teaches in, 5 days a week for 4 months?

My son is in pre-K. He has been wanting to switch from the half-day to the full-day program, but I can't pick him up from school at the end of the day because of his little sisters' nap schedule. A friend of mine teaches at his school and offered (without my hinting or even having considered it) to bring him back home when she leaves for the day. She lives down the street, so the extra trouble is not so much extra driving for her, but having an extra kid with her, wrangling him in/out of the car, etc. (She's also picking her kindergarten-aged son up from school while my son is with her.)

Anyway, I want to get her a thank-you gift card for this very kind favor, but I don't want the gift to be so much that it seems like I'm trying to obviate the favor or turn her into my paid sitter or something. Thoughts?
posted by palliser to Human Relations (11 answers total)
Instead of a gift card, I'd offer to babysit her kid(s) one night a month for free so that she gets a break. I think a trade in-kind gets rid of the risk of seeming like you're paying for her services as a driver. Babysitting and carpool are just parents trading favors.
posted by decathecting at 12:44 PM on January 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

If I were driving your kid, I would think $50 or under would be fine. Over that would make me uncomfortable. But a plate of cookies and a homemade card would be just as great.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that, in order to keep it from looking like you're trying to obviate the favor, I might not give a gift card. Baked goods, flowers, or just a card I'm sure would be very welcome.

If you do want to do a gift certificate/card, I think it would be much better to give one that's very specific to her. Perhaps ask her husband/wife/partner if there's a restaurant she particularly likes and give her a gift certificate to that? Or, since she's a teacher, you might want to consider a Staples/other office supply gift card. If so, I'd certainly keep it under $50.
posted by Betelgeuse at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2012

That is a great idea, decathecting, and I will offer it, but she shares custody and is very protective of her nights with her son, so I think she will either turn it down or say "oh, that's so nice" and then never get back to me with dates that would work.

I probably should have mentioned that her money situation is very tight, which both gives me a powerful impulse to do something large, but also makes a too-grand gesture even more apt to make her feel that I've made her my hired help.
posted by palliser at 12:52 PM on January 9, 2012

Five days a week for four months is 80 trips. She's not really spending any extra money on gas if she just lives down the street, but she is going to have 80 interactions with your kid, and if she gives her kid a treat or something, I'm sure she'll have one for yours too. Not to mention that for a few minutes a day, for 80 days, she'll be acting in loco parentis until your kiddo gets home.

So I disagree that $50 would be too much. About a buck a day (if you want to round down to a total of $75, cool) sounds right. That's not so much that it seems like you're trying to pay her for the service, since that would be a pathetic wage :) A gift certificate for $75 for something she really likes plus a heartfelt letter about how much your kid enjoyed being able to stay the whole day at school and how her picking him up meant a lot to you sounds about right.

On preview re: her money situation, I'd say bump the card up to $100 if you can afford it.
posted by jingzuo at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

5 days a week for 4 months, so 80 separate instances of driving your son home (plus wrangling!) I think $100 gift card would be an appropriate amount, if you look at it that way - that's only $1.25/instance. Making it a gift card for gas might be an easy way to pass it off as a real thank you for the driving, and not make it seem like you are trying to pay her as a driver or something.
posted by coupdefoudre at 12:58 PM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

That is a great idea, decathecting, and I will offer it, but she shares custody and is very protective of her nights with her son,

Perhaps a gift card for her to do something special with her son then. Indoor water park, cool aquarium like the National Aquarium in Baltimore (no idea where you are located), or zoo with behind-the-scenes tour, etc. Anything like that, as long as it's close enough that she doesn't have to incur additional costs (overnight stay) to redeem it.

Something like that would tell her you know how much she values her time with her son, and the fact that she "shares" it with your son means a lot to you.
posted by headnsouth at 1:16 PM on January 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

Honestly, if money is really tight, it's groceries that count. I'd giver her a $200 gift card to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's with a nice note telling her to treat herself to something as fabulous, and ignore the fact she'll in fact buy a 30 day supply of staple foods with it.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:08 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there a local kids museum, zoo, arboretum, or aquarium? Family memberships to those places run about $100 for a year. That would be a great gift!
posted by katypickle at 3:15 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

headnsouth: "you know how much she values her time with her son, and the fact that she "shares" it with your son means a lot to you."

And say this to her directly!
posted by ocherdraco at 7:48 PM on January 9, 2012

If she is a teacher, maybe a gift cert to a local teacher supplies store? She must have to buy supplies or crafting supplies for her classes, no?
posted by vignettist at 11:22 PM on January 9, 2012

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