1. Lita MacDonald

    I was looking for some advice on how you would handle, coach/team gifts. I am fully committed to contributing to teacher gifts and team gifts for volunteer positions. With that in mind, we have a mother who continually collects for various sporting events and demands that parents contribute a significant amount of $20 each (for 11 girls) to provide a coach gifts (2).

    Others and myself feel strong armed into giving her this money, were perhaps we may only be able to give a smaller amount, or a personal gift ourselves. Others are feeling the amount is too steep, and some do not feel that when you pay for a service and coaches are being paid that a gift is not necessary.

    So, two questions – How to handle this pushy mother and should we address?
    Second, what is the appropriate etiquette regarding gifts? (ie amount and when)
    Thank you,

    • Elizabeth

      I don’t have children, and I’m sure the culture of gift-giving is slightly different in each region (even at each school) – but: no one should dictate to you how much to spend on a gift, and you should feel perfectly welcome to opt out of it if you want. It sounds like this lady wants to give the coaches gifts in excess of $100 each? That seems like a lot. Next time the email goes out or she comes asking, just say “Actually, Beth, thanks but we’ve decided to do our own gifts this year.” Or, if some of the other moms want to go in on something cheaper, you could say, “Thanks, Beth, but a few of us want to go in on something a little more modest this time. We’re going to do our own thing.” That’s it. Don’t open it up for questions, or for her approval. Just let her know if she needs to know.

      As for when to give gifts: Again, that probably has something to do with local tradition. Do you give during the holidays, on his/her birthday, or at the end of the season during an awards ceremony? I would probably save any gift-giving for that moment. I don’t know that it matters that the coaches are paid – people often go above and beyond their compensation. Do you appreciate the work they do with your child? A small token to show your appreciation is never amiss, even if it’s just some homemade cookies or a $5 giftcard to Starbucks.

      • Country Girl

        Yes, paid or not, it is completely appropriate to show your appreciation for a coach with a gift at the end of the season. I agree with Elizabeth that if completely strong-armed, just saying you are buying an individual gift might be a good idea. But, have any of the parents first tried talking with this mom about purchasing a smaller ticket gift? Or even making a gift? If parents have already spoken out against the high amount, then she isn’t being considerate, but if everyone is just going along with the $20 then she may have no idea that this is out of anyone’s price range. In this case it wouldn’t be polite to blindside her by arranging a separate gift that other parents are getting together on. (That also wouldn’t promote much in the way of teamwork to your children.)

        My dad has been a high school coach for years, and I can give you a couple of ideas from items he has received over the years that weren’t terribly expensive. A towel with his name embroidered, flowers, gift certificate for dinner at a local eatery, nalgene bottle with the team printed on it, Thank You placard or sport clock signed by the team. All these items were less than $50, some well under that. Another idea, you may suggest giving a gift baskets where each player/family gets to contribute an item for each coach. That would be something neat. Then each player or family could give what they could afford whether that was homemade cookies or an extravagant certificate. You could then have one card that each contributing player signs so it is not obvious who gave what.

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