Here are some tips to remember whenever you’re sending treats to the classroom—for your child’s birthday or for a party.
1. Tell the teacher ahead of time. I don’t mind being surprised, but it is nice to know in advance when the treat is coming. It helps the teacher leave some leeway in the day’s lesson plans—or plan for a treat that has special serving requirements. (See tip # 2)
2. Plan how the treat will be served. The treat should be easy to serve. Imagine yourself in the teacher’s place, with 30 excited kids waiting eagerly for the treat. In the classroom, something so simple as distributing individually wrapped treats can lead to chaos, especially when the packaging is challenging to open. Cutting cakes, plating food, adding whipped cream or toppings, providing utensils and napkins are all examples of how serving treats can get difficult very quickly.
3. Send in everything needed to serve the treat. Plates, napkins, eating and serving utensils… think about it!
4. The kids don’t expect drinks. They love them, but are not expecting it. The teacher will appreciate individual drinks, such as juice boxes or Capri Sun. Serving drinks in cups can be difficult and messy.
5. You can bring the treat in yourself and help serve, but check with the teacher ahead of time. If you just come in, you might find that the class is busy with something that can’t be interrupted, such as a test. You might find the classroom is empty because the children have gone to lunch, or a special class such as PE or Art that is held elsewhere on campus.
6. Your treat should probably be store-bought. Many school districts have a policy requiring this. It limits liability for everyone and makes it easy to check ingredients.
7. Check the ingredients. It’s smart to avoid nuts and especially peanuts, because many classes these days have someone with a nut allergy. Be sure to check if the product was made in a facility that processes nuts.
8. Check the number of servings per container. Be careful with this! I once bought a first day of school treat for my class—Little Debbie cakes, 10 per box. Turns out it was packed in five twin-wrapped packages, and we had to split them. The kids were nice about it, but it wasn’t what I intended and I felt bad.
9. Find out if your child’s school has a no-sweets policy that is strictly enforced. If so, there are many alternatives. Kids enjoy fresh vegetables and dips. You can buy apple slices in individual bags. Fruit snacks are good. Kids love those packaged cheese and crackers that let them spread the cheese on a cracker with little plastic sticks. Kids are also really into Go-gurt and crushable yogurt.
10. Send in extra treats. You never know if your child’s class will have a new student, or students visiting from another class. (It happens for a variety of reasons—the class might have a small group from another classroom because the school couldn’t find a sub, or a student helper might happen to be there when the treat is served.) If there are extra treats, your child can bring them home or visit other classrooms and give the extras to teachers. Kids love to do this!