Hi there, I might be posting a little late but just wanted to add my 2 cents...
As a former teacher (middle school, not preschool) at an independent school I received two kinds of gifts over the holidays - 1. a cash gift organized and collected by one designated class parent from all (or most) of the families. And 2. Small gifts from individual families. The cash was of course really nice, it was always over $200. But the smaller gifts were usually lovely as well, especially if they were coming from the kids themselves (not that they actually bought them per se, but that they helped decide what would be nice and/or actually had a clue what was wrapped up in the gift bag they were handing me). Translated to a preschool level to me this means the child might draw on the card or the wrapping paper to participate in some way to say 'thank you for being my teacher'.
As far as the small gifts themselves they included a big bar of chocolate, a mug and tea combo, food (jam, homemade cookies), a gift card to a small local bookstore, a gc to a big box book store, once a gc to a donut shop chain and many gift cards to that coffee shop chain, and office supplies. Because I prefer small gifts from local places I really liked the jam and the gift certificate from a small bookstore but would rather not have had the bigger box store gifts or the candy, the donuts or the mug (which ended up as clutter as it really wasn't my taste). The coffee shop gcs were always nice too. Once thing that really bugged me (sorry previous posters!) was giving office supplies as gifts. As a teacher you end up buying a lot for your classroom from your own pocket (even if you do work in an Independent School like I did!) but there is something really wrong with that in my opinion (and our society! but that is another thread entirely) and so I could have done without the extra postits....even if they came from a heartfelt place.
As far as gift card amounts go I am thinking a $25 gift cards from a local bookstore plus a fancy chocolate bar will be what I give my son's preschool teachers this year. I feel a little bad about this, like it might be too impersonal, but we will have a new baby coming the week after Thanksgiving so maybe this will be a good choice for us this year. I do think $15 would be fine also. Anything less seems like a skimpy non-present in my opinion. If money is the issue then something homemade, like cookies (or once someone made homemade marshmallows!) would be the way to go. Or a nicely composed card listing all of the reasons you or your child value the teacher. Once as a teacher I received a $5 gc for a donut shop chain and I felt a little undervalued. And let's face it, a $5 gc to the coffee shop will buy you just one grande fancy coffee. Better to have a homemade card and forget the plastic gc. Now of course it is the thought that counts! But in my opinion small, personalized and heartfelt is better.
Edited by beautifulboy - 11/18/11 at 7:00pm