Secret Santa.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TheNumberOne, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. TheNumberOne

    TheNumberOne Rookie

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    Nov 19, 2009

    It's a known tradition for me to do Secret Santa with each of my classes. For those of you that don't know, Secret Santa is a simple game where I place the name of each student in the class in basket, and on the way out, they choose a ticket. On the ticket is a student's name, and the person who chose, are responsible for getting that person a gift. If they are unable or not interested, they tell me directly, and I buy for the kid.

    I find that this creates bonds with students, and is even a bit of fun - my policy is that no gift can exceed 20 dollars. Considering the area I teach in, a lot of times the gifts do exceed 20 dollars, but... what am I supposed to do? :whistle:

    At any rate, I was wondering if other teachers do this? Do your students like it?
     
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  3. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Well, this subject comes up every year. You're likely to get a lot of NO votes on this type of activity. If you are saying that you live in an affluent area, then probably you're not going to have many problems with parents, but you need to think about those one or two kids who CAN'T purchase presents. Even if they do live in a nice neighborhood. Plus, I'd be interested to hear about the "bonds" this creates...by purchasing presents?

    For the most part, my school chooses not to do the gift exchange. One class picks an ESP and helps them out for an afternoon (cooks, janitors, secretary, etc). One class does community service of some kind. My class collects used gently used toys and other items, and we have an silent auction where the kids can "shop" for gifts for family members using class bucks.

    I guess what I'm saying is what works for you works, but really think about what else you can do to establish those bonds. Something that is not tied to getting something.
     
  4. TheNumberOne

    TheNumberOne Rookie

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    Well, I get a lot of children that are interested. Like I mentioned in my post, for those that aren't interested or cannot buy gifts, I buy them. :)

    This creates bonds between the students because really, in our situation, it shows generosity and willingness. This is really good for students whose families can't afford Christmas - having at least one thing is good.

    However, I like your idea, and maybe next year, we'll follow something different, but this is traditional for my classes.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 20, 2009

    In this economy, I would be very hesitant about assuming that parents have that $20 to spare.

    A canned food drive for the needy would show that generosity and willingness, would cost a lot less, and would help some who are going through rough times. And it wouldn't be obvious if somoene was unable to participate.

    Lots of people who were on top of the world a few years ago are really struggling now, even with their big houses and expensive (but paid off) cars.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    A colleague does a gift exchange but the children must MAKE the gifts for each other. More thoughtful and cuts down on the cost.

    I agree with Alice- $20 is a lot to ask people to spend, especially in this economy- it's a lot for you to spend on kids as well. Unless you are in a parochial school, I'd also be hesitant to call it 'Secret Santa'...
     
  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Even for my holiday party for my friends I have, I have a $5-10 range on gifts. We do a white elephant exchange.
     
  8. TheNumberOne

    TheNumberOne Rookie

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    Nov 20, 2009

    I figured because I work in an area with the median household income (according to GreatSchools.net) of $217,489, 20 dollars wouldn't be a hassle.

    Alice, my school does a food drive, during Thanksgiving. Students are to bring in canned, non-perishable foods to donate to the needy. Most participate because the prize for the class that collects the most canned goods wins a prize.
     
  9. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    You could do it but make a doller tree only exchange (nothing costing more than a doller). You can find things at doller section in target,michaels, doller tree stores, or even walmart. O r have them make ornaments for each other. Another thing could be to have them write a kind note for the other on something postive. For example: I like the outfits you wear to school, or you are so smart and always get good grades , etc. When I was in middle school we did an activity that I liked it was at church in sunday school not at school, but I liked it. We took a piece of white paper and wrote down everyones name except ours and wrote what we could say postive, nice about them. Then our teacher took them all up (this was done where we didnt know who said what) and she made a piece with just the one persons name on it and combined all the things ppl said about that one person into one note to say it all. Example: if sally wrote about kate and said she has pretty eyes and is nice that would get written down on the note and then if allison also said sally has pretty eyes it would not be written down twice. This was when our lesson was on being kind to others.
     
  10. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    May I add something? Thanks in advance lol!! You can't always assume that just because parents make x amount of money that they could hand out $20 at your asking. They could be in debt, paying of a new car, saving for a vaction, putting another child through college or themselves, paying of loan, etc. Could be a number of reasons or just want to save their money and $20 for a child in classes gift is an aweful lot. At this day in age I almost don't even want to spend that on a family members gift.
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Again, you can do what you want, but a median income doesn't tell you much about those who are below that level. Our own personal family income is...comfortable...and I would have a big problem with a $20 gift for a classmate. But that's me.

    I think the point that we're making is that there are so many other non-gift related things you could do, is it really worth it to possibly alienate a few students? Even if you buy gifts for those who don't want to participate? Trust me, everyone will know who did and didn't bring a gift, and that alone can draw a lot of unwanted heat to a student who has no control over his or her family's money woes.
     
  12. StudentTeach

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    Nov 20, 2009

    When we do exchanges in my organization we call it "Secret Snowflake"... we have a lot of mixed religions so it seems to work ;)
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's really not your place to decide what families can afford.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    According to the Greatschools.net website:

    "How often is school information updated?

    "Our goal is to update all data at least once a year in every state, using the most recent available information from either the state Department of Education or the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)"

    So the odds are ovewhelming that those income statistics are outdated; the umemployment numbers have risen in epic proportions over the last year. If they updated, say, 10 months ago, then the statistics they use are at least a year old. That was shortly after the economy first started its freefall.

    My husband and I are both employed. But an extra $20 for school right now would mean one less gift under the tree for someone-- probably one of us. COULD we scrounge up the money if it meant our kids would feel left out? Yes. But is it something we would applaud? No.

    And if you already do a canned food drive, great. How about a toiletries drive for a local nursing home? Most of the residents don't have the spare cash for things like bath oil and mouth wash. Or a similar drive for a Veteran's hospital. Or a toy drive for a local children's hospital. Or a glove and hat drive for a local homeless shelter?

    There are a lot of needy people out there. If your families REALLY are as wealthy as you think, then that $20 toy won't make a difference to those kids for more than 10 minutes. But a $10 donation to any of the causes I've named would go a long way.
     
  15. TeacherSandra

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    I work at a private school and even though the parents can afford to send their children there, I have always made the book exchange at $5.00.
    That has always worked well for me and the kids enjoy books.
     
  16. Hoot Owl

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    I'm just not into materialistic things making someone happy or creating bonds. If these kids are from such affluent homes to start with I'm sure they already have everything and the $20 gift will just be a piece of junk within a week or so. I'd find a charity of some sort, look into an organization like: http://www.heifer.org/ where the kids can buy a cow, chicken, or some other farm animal to really help someone in dire need.
     
  17. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I always felt bad for the kids who brought lower quality gifts. I also felt bad for the kids whose parents would come to the party with huge things of food, whatever, and be dressed nicely in expensive clothes with hair and nails done and then "forget" that they were supposed to bring a gift. Or the kids living with grandma who doesn't drive, or whatever. I only did a gift exchange one year.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The late singer/songwriter Harry Chapin was devoted to the idea of ending hunger on Long Island and in our nation. They tell the story of how he spoke at a local elementary school that was having a Thanksgiving food drive. He congratulated the kids for all their hard work in bringing in Turkeys and stuffing and cranberry sauce and all the fixings.

    Then he posed the question:

    OK, so what are these people going to eat tomorrow??
     
  19. kidsandpups

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    I don't think we should criticize the original poster for asking a question. She knows her school/class better than we do. I don't post a lot because things frequently seem to get harsh and critical. Just my:2cents:

    TheNumberOne: We do Secret Santa at my school. I teach 6-8 in a Catholic school and we don't have any issues. No one is required to participate, but everyone chooses to. We have the kids each pull a name and bring a gift for that person. The limit is $15 but many kids go above that because they want to, not because they feel obligated to. Our school is so small that all of the kids are friends anyway so this is a natural thing to let them do on the last day before vacation. Most of them choose to bring presents for their classmates as well. We had one student last year who couldn't afford it and it wasn't a big deal. We slipped an iTunes gift card in the pile for her Secret Santa and no one was the wiser. She wasn't left out based on circumstances beyond her control.

    We also did Secret Santa in the public schools I worked at but there was not specific person to buy for. Girls brought a present for a girl and boys brought a present for a boy. Then it was grab bag style.

    I think it's nice to encourage kids to think of someone other than themselves during the holidays. Food drives, coat drives, toy drives, and penny drives are fantastic and we do all of those, but it's nice for the kids to actually give to someone else in person. Their classmate may not be needy, but I definitley support what the OP said about the experience forming bonds between classmates.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I remember doing a grab bag type thing at school when I was a kid. The limit was $5 and we just bought for a boy/girl. It was definitely fun and shouldn't be a problem unless someone is left out.
     
  21. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I really like that Alice, what an important sentiment.

    Some classes at our school do it, but I've never felt comfortable. There is usually at least one student who doesn't celebrate Christmas. Our staff Secret Santa is $15 total (approximately-we leave 1$ gift for several days, then do an exchange of a larger gift-$5-$10). Only 15 of our staff has elected to participate this year (out of 60)-I really do think it's the economic situation so many are facing, we usually have twice that many.

    I know you said you buy if they can't, what if you are stuck buying presents for a bunch of kids at $20 a pop? I also think that particularly affluent kids don't need another expensive toy, it would be a much better gift to them to learn about giving to others-and then everyone could have the opportunity to participate.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Please don't take my comments as criticism. She asked for opinions, and mine just differs from hers. That's fine. It happens a lot :) I don't think that anyone here meant to criticize her, merely to offer input on an idea.
     
  23. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    Our school has asked teachers not to do any type of Secret Santa in the classrooms. All teachers agreed. We teachers are even stopping a gift exchange and instead we'll contribute what a gift would have cost and send one check to the local food pantry in our name. This way we can see our money directly helping some of our own students. The town will know we are doing this because the newspaper is planning an article on what we teachers are doing.
     
  24. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    My post wasn't intended as critism either.

    My district is a Title I distict which means most of the kids are below poverty level and have single moms as the head of the house hold. A Secret Santa in my class would be a disaster for sure.
     
  25. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I don't think anyone wanted to criticize anyone. I certainly hope that teachers aren't discouraged from posting here either. But the original question was posed about whether or not people did secret santa things, and many many many classes don't. If the OP doesn't agree, that's fine. There are also many many many teachers who do these things. I hope that perhaps some of the alternative ideas here will influence some of those who do to change. That's just my :2cents:
     
  26. teacherheath

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    Nobody does this in our school. It would not go over well, because for one thing, we have a big part of our population in poverty. However, as a staff we do something fun for Secret Santa. We draw names. Then, we buy a child's toy that in some way reminds us of our "drawee"--then at our Christmas breakfast, we do a little activity where we describe the person we bought for and how the toy represents them and we all try to guess who it is. At the end of the breakfast, all of the toys get donated to toys for tots.
     
  27. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Ha! That's a cute idea. I loathe staff gift exchanges (there is really nothing I want or need that is $5-I have enough small bottles of Bath and Body Works lotion to last me a lifetime), but this is something I could like!
     
  28. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    We did this last year and I hope that we do it again. I drew the name of one of my best friends at school. We had been talking one day about our mothers both having china tea sets that we remembered playing with when we were young. The gift I choose for "her" was a beautiful child's china tea set that came with lace napkins.
     

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