Collective Gifts for Preschoolers–Yes or No?

I decided go to my daughter’s class. It’s true, as Sephardilady suggested in the comments, that I could meet the teacher another time, but I would like to see how the teacher and the school present themselves to the parents. So far they seem to have been doing a wonderful job and my daughter continues to be thrilled in her 7th grade class. As for gan, I see the teacher every day, and I heard from a mother whose opinion I trust that this ganenet doesn’t go overboard with the requests. Last year there was a discussion about collecting more money at the end of the year for something and the ganenet wouldn’t let the parents do it.

I spoke to the ganenet and asked her what the plans were for birthday parties. She said that three children have a party together, without the parents. The parents buy a gift for the child, and she recommends a towel embroidered with the child’s name on it for NIS 35 (about $8.50). I told her that I would probably not order one. She was genuinely concerned that my son would be terribly disappointed, and I tried to tell her that I would take care of it. She asked me if I would buy him something else. I have been thinking about why this whole thing bothers me so much and here is what I have come up with.

1. I don’t need another towel in the house.
2. If I did I wouldn’t buy one with the child’s name on it because I could get two for that price (and it happens that he still uses one he got as a gift when he was born, but that is beside the point).
3. I object, on principle, to being told what gift I should buy for my child, as if somehow he is missing something very special if he doesn’t get a particular item that he never even knew he needed.
4. I don’t like the idea of every child getting the same present; this will probably sound extreme but it smacks of socialism to me.

I don’t think I want to get into an argument with the ganenet about my feelings on the subject.

I have asked not to buy such a gift in the past and my children didn’t even notice that they didn’t get it. If I thought he would really care, I would buy it, but if he notices and is disappointed I will offer to go to the store with him and let him pick out a small gift. I guarantee he will prefer it to a towel.

His birthday is at the end of the year so if I’m still blogging then, I’ll let you know his reaction.

Wow, my husband just came home from the gan meeting and he is really annoyed. Stay tuned.

Update on Gan Finances


  1. SephardiLady says

    I’m tuned. You are a woman after my own heart. I hate being told what I should buy. For crying out loud, at least provide choices.

    Add a number 5: families have a right to make some of their own fiscal decisions. I don’t want my decisions to be dicated to me.

    Add a number 6: Children do NOT need everything their friends have, whether it be a towel or a class ring or a sweatshirt. Some things belong between parent and child.

  2. mother in israel says

    Right on, sister!!

  3. SephardiLady says

    The bottom line seems to be that parents have lost their confidence completely and are more than happy to be told what is best.

  4. mother in israel says

    I think you are absolutely right, but I’m not sure that is the main thing going on here. It’s more of a groupthink mentality. Everyone has to be doing exactly the same thing as the other parents. I have noticed it recently with regard to choice of schools. Parents’ main concern doesn’t seem to be the quality of the education, but what other parents will think and whose children their children will be friends with. They aren’t very demanding about academic standards.

  5. You and Sephardi Lady are both correct. It is absurd that we must be dictated to exactly what to do for our children’s birthday celebrations. I had a run in in my youngest’s play group. Her birthday is in June, so I opted to buy ices instead of the usual cupcakes or donuts. Her teacher felt this warranted a warning call about my daring to do things differently. I got so fed up that I said, “Look, she already had 3 birthday cake celebrations (various family and friends. She doesn’t really need this, and if you are going to insist, then we’ll just call it off.” Just to clarify, I did go along with what I thought was a silly waste of buying a disposable decorative tablecloth for the occasion. But I refused to buy a gift for the class (other schools also try to foist that on parents for their kids birthdays, though I did do it for her Kindergarten class.

  6. mother in israel says

    Part of the problem, Ariella, is that the parents have to compare. If it’s less than they brought, they you are taking advantage. If it’s more, you are showing them up. If you call it off, it’s also not fair because your daughter participated in their parties and you didn’t reciprocate. You can’t win.

  7. SephardiLady says

    I agree with Ariella that we are both correct. I guess we are looking at the interplay between parents resigning their power due to loosing their confidence, and a severe dose of groupthink.

    All, I can say is yuck! Well, fortunately, we don’t suffer from either of these issues that I know of yet!

  8. We are so similar in some ways. I consider myself, pardon the borrowing of the image, a true Scrooge when it comes to school-dictated stuff like this. In our school, however, they let you buy a book for $10 that goes into the library and has your child’s nameplate in the front. I’m okay with that though I don’t do it every year. The kids get to choose the book and then take it home first.
    But when it comes to party after party after party, ugh – I’m so bad – I really am against them (the Hallmark Greeting Card holidays in particular but the hubbub they have for St. Patrick’s Day evokes special ire from me).
    Anyway – every year, I go through it. And every year, we manage, I manage and maintain my position.
    What WILL my kids end up like!?