Santa's Workshop at School for Kids to Buy Presents

Updated on December 02, 2010
V.M. asks from Conneaut, OH
14 answers

I volunteered when my son was in preschool for an hour and sort of saw what goes on with this, The preschool sent home a sheet ahead of time asking the parents to make a list of who the kids could buy for mom, dad, sis, the dog. We sent in $10 and let him have at it. Like i said i volunteered so i saw that they had a large variety of items and a large range of prices, the preschool matched them up with a 6th grade buddy and the buddy was supposed to help keep track of how much money was left. Now we are in elementary school at a different school. The sixth grade does it all as a fund raiser and those mom's are the volunteers. The kindergarteners don't have a buddy to shop with but i assume the mom volunteers try to keep an eye on things. Today my son came home all excited the sale lasts three days, today being the first and we didn't send money yet. He has a sheet of paper with the thigns he "picked Out' on it and the prices. lollipop soap for mom $3, dog biscuits $2, a Scarf for dad $10!!!!!!! and he forgot to look for something for his sister but thinks they had barbies that she would like which i'm sure aren't going ot be $2.

So for those of you involed in this sort of thing, couldn't they limit things a little lilke four choices of things for men, lilke candy bars, cheap golf balls, an ornament, and flashlights and keep the costs all between $1 and $5? Am i being too controlling but i don't really want to Waste $20 PER kid having them pick out junk with out my imput. And i really doubt that the $10 scarf is a steal. does any body else thing there must be a better way, or do you do it differently, I would love handmade things that the kdis did themselves!!! that would be awesome, I know i could just send $5 and tell my kids tough deal with it, but that seems even meaner than just not letting them do it at all. Advice, opinions, blank checks to cover the cost of thsi craziness???????

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the imput. I really like the schools that limit the items to $10 and under. Personally, i do not feel this should be a fundraiser for a specific grade. It should either be a PTO type thing and any profits benefit all the kids for an assembly or something, OR I would love for the money to go towards teacher bonuses. I still think $20 is a lot for my daughter to be carrying to school. I would hope she wouldn't lose it but she is 5yo and things happen. and i think it's a lot for people with multiple children buying. Next year, i think i'll limit them to buying for their sibling. AND earning the money, because i do want them to participate.

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answers from Chicago on

I don't like the santa shop, never liked it years ago, when my older kids were little.I did at first gave them each 5 Dollars and than stopped alltogether.
I helped last year and couldn't believe how much they sell that junk for.Kids come in with 50 Dollars and spend it all...Totally wrong, I don't like that fundraiser at all.....
It felt like they are sucking little childrens money out of their pockets..
Maybe do just one little thing to buy, or like I did at the end nothing at all.I feel like we don't have to participate in every fundraiser....

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answers from Redding on

$10 does seem a little expensive for a single gift. Thank goodness he didn't want to get the whole family matching scarves.
The amount of money you give your kids to spend is certainly your business. If you only give a total of $10, then the scarf is out of the question if your son wants to buy other gifts as well.
The thing is, this is a fundraiser and gifts or no gifts, the money the school gets isn't "wasted". Heaven knows my kids have sold things and held steak and spaghetti feeds at school. Did I need a candle that cost $10? No. Was it the greatest steak or spaghetti? No. Could I have prepared a complete dinner for my family for much less? Yes, but that's not really the point.
The kids get to be proud of participating and in your case, your kids get to feel like they were able to pick something out for you on their own. Yes, you give them the money and know ahead of time, but the thought is there for you.
I would find out if this is something they do every year and start planning in January how your kids can earn and save money for their Christmas fund for next year. I'm not saying it all has to be spent at the school, but Dad can take them shopping for you and you can take them shopping for Dad and each other. One dollar per week would earn each of them $52.
That way, they can feel like the money is their own and they might think more carefully how it's spent.
Just an idea.

I wish you the best and hope you get some great responses.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I would send in $20.00 or less but not less than 5 it is a thrill for them.I don't care what they get the smiles on my face & their laughter makes the money worth it plus your helping out for a good cause.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

The difference with your son's school now is that they are looking to make a profit as a fundraiser for the 6th grade...b/c of this they have most likely marked everything way up. Our school charges 1.25 for everything but does not profit...the moms that organize it shop all year from dollar stores and wholesalers to stock it.
your school really can't limit the selection because there wouldn't be enough for everyone to choose. Also, I can guarantee that they would get a ton of complaints about it if they did.
To be honest, you are not 'wasting' your money. While the stuff may be junk to you I am sure that your son is quite proud of the presents that he selected for you by himself. To me that is a great use of $20.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I was quite happy last year when our elementary school switched to woking with a dollar store so everything would be $1. That way the kids could shop for everyone on their list and it didn't cost us a fortune.

Now to answer your other questions... I think you need to step back and let them shop independently. No you don't need to send in a huge amount of money (because it doesn't hurt for them to learn a little about budgeting) but the kids seem to really have a sense of accomplishment from their purchases. They are proud that they picked it out and want to see the joy it brings you. They also have a great sense of pride and satisfaction when they see you using 'it'. I bet they can also remember what they bought you the year before!

I don't think the Santa shop is necessarily about the deals it is all about the thought that counts.

This is coming from a true frugalista if that matters :-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would send him with maybe $15? The point isn't that he's getting junk, the point is he gets to pick out what he thinks you will like all by himself. Plus, it's a fund raiser.

My school did that when I was in grade school. I remember getting my dad a rock sculpture that says "World's Greatest Dad" and it was painted and has googly eyes. My dad still has it, 30 years later. It's in his drawer along with the cheap screwdriver I also got him.

Let your kid have at it. Christmas is about giving, so let him give!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Our school does it and there are no limits to how much they can spend. All gifts are under $5 though. However, the money raised goes toward a "bonus" for the teachers and staff, which I feel is well worth it. I also don't want money back so I allow my daughter to donate what's left of her money.

It was also my daughter's favorite thing every year and she loved getting us special gifts she picked out all by herself. She didn't even care to shop any more for any of us so what we got from the school sale was it. I looked at it this way -- I saved money because I didn't have to take her shopping.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

it may be a bunch of junk..but it teaches your son how to buy and budget and spend money wisely, no matter how much you give him..and the best part is he is buying things he thinks you all will love and cant wait to see the looks on your faces when you open his gift..much like we do at christmas when we buy the kids ridiculous priced stuff that they want just to see them happy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

our school does it but most everything is very very very reasonable because its donated. There are even a few parents that make crafts and donate them. My son goes in with $10 and is able to get something for mom, dad, brother, his aunt and usually has enough to get himself something small.



answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter is at a new school and her Santa Shop is next week so I am curious to see how it works. (Her old school didn't have one). I do think the idea of shopping and figuring out what she can buy with the money I give is a good one, but I have no idea what price range things will be.

A long time ago, a nephew of my boyfriend at the time bought me a pair of banana slippers at his Santa shop. He was very proud of his purchase, and definitely picked them out all by himself. The slippers were a riot - don't know what it says about me that he identified those with me :) But with that memory, I am excited to see how my daughter does with the shopping.



answers from Philadelphia on

Our school gives the kids an envelope to take home and list the names and prices ranges of the people they are buying for. Maybe suggest that at your next home and school meeting? I know it's difficult to make suggestions for something you can't be involved in since your child isn't in that grade, but that would be helpful to all the kids involved, especially the young ones.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Our school does this and we are told that the gifts range from $1-$11. We get an envelope on which is a list with a budget amount for each gift that we list.



answers from Allentown on

I used to let my children do that but it got way to expensive. Especially as I had my second and now third entering school. I have 4 kids total so they each bought for each other and close relatives.

They now use their allowance money and I take them to the Dlloar Tree. They love buying stuff for each other and using their own money makes them feel really proud. And you can't beat a dollar a present!! They have a huge selection there. Sure nothing there is spectacular but it's perfect for the kids.

I'd try it if your interested in keeping the costs down.
Good Luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Wow - I have to say I am somewhat surprised, because honestly, the prices haven't gone up that much since I was in second grade in 1977! I remember the big ticket item at that point was about $7.

You could "guide" your child towards less expensive items or ask the school to ask a volunteer to.

Just for perspective, the Santa's workshop was the highlight of my Christmas for many years because I could pick out gifts for people that would be a surprise for them. It helped me appreciate the joy of giving, which was a great lesson. Perhaps you could look at it as an investment in your child's development?

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