At the end of every school year the Montclair Fund for Excellence in Education (MFEE) asks parents to host Toast to the Teachers, a party of some sort, to honor and thank their child’s teacher(s). The host parent pays for and puts together the party, usually with some help from other parents, and the MFEE charges per guest. Usually this is $25 per adult for an adult only party or $20 per adult and $5 per child for family parties. Basically you host the party and the MFEE takes the cover charge. The parties all have different themes such as: kid-free cocktail parties, ice cream socials, pool parties, golf outings and backyard jam sessions…
Most people see this as a win/win situation. The teacher gets honored while the MFEE raises a nice amount of money that goes right back into the classrooms as teacher grants for educators all over the district.
Last Friday, I hosted my first Toast called “Martinis for May” for my son’s lovely kindergarten teacher Ms. May. We all whooped it up and had a great time. Here are some of my favorite tips for hosting a Toast and general etiquette for guests:
- The Toast is to thank and celebrate the teacher.
- Have a fun time.
- Raise money for the MFEE—If people can’t or just don’t want to pay for one more thing and it looks like you won’t have enough people at your Toast, I say, ask to them to come without paying (see#1)
Things to Avoid and Entertaining Pitfalls
- Talk to the teacher you are honoring about the type of Toast she/he would like: The party is not for you or the children, it’s for the teacher.
- Make sure that any emails regarding the party are clear: Start and end time, if you are collecting money from parents to host the party, or if you want guests to bring wine, beer or an appetizer.
- Put away any liquor that is not for general consumption: If it is out, people will drink it.
- Put away any prescription drugs in your medicine cabinets, wallets etc…Remember you are hosting a party for some people you know, but many that you don’t. It is better to be safe than sorry and a good rule for any large party.
- Have empty vases ready. People like to bring the teacher flowers and this way they will stay fresh until she/he takes them home.
- Serve food that doesn’t require last minute warming: If it is 95° out and your house is full of people, you don’t want the oven on.
- Have a back up plan or rain date: My party was suppose to be a garden party, but it poured, so we talked about the garden instead.
- If you are hosting an adult only party PLEASE have a plan for your younger children: The teacher works with your child all day and they are off the clock. Younger kids get very excited about their teacher being at their house, but let the teacher relax.
- Have an actual toast for the teacher during the party: Make it about her/him and not your child. Let her/him say a word or two if she/he would like.
- If you can’t get people to leave,start putting away the food and the booze. If that doesn’t work, tell the stragglers thatit was lovely to have them, but you have to be up super early in the am and need to get to bed. Or just say, “Hey it was great having you but we need to head out of here and go to (fill in the blank) in a few.”
- If you are having a pool party ALWAYS HIRE ENOUGH LIFEGUARDS!
Etiquette When Attending a Toast
- People tend to register for the Toasts at the last minute. Let the host family know you are coming,even if you have yet to register, so they can plan accordingly.
- The teacher is off the clock, don’t bombard her/him with questions about your child.
- Ask the host what you can do to help before, during and after the party.
- When the party is over ask to help clean up and go home, unless your host asks you to stay—The parties are 2 hours long, not longer.
- If you plan to be anti-social and play on your phone, go to your car. Nothing says, “I am having a crappy time and this party stinks” like being a phone-face. If you would rather be someplace else, please go to that place and let everyone else have fun being social.
- Introduce yourself to someone new, don’t be cliquey.
- If the party is for adults only DON’T BRING YOUR KIDS. if you only paid to bring one kid DO NOT BRING THEIR SIBLINGS.
- If you have dietary issues or food hang-ups, either bring something you like for everyone to enjoy or eat ahead of time: I have never gone to a vegetarian dinner and demanded they make me meat, so don’t expect there will be vegan options.
- If you can’t get a sitter, leave the kids home with your spouse and go alone: Stop in a support the teacher for an hour.
- If you cannot afford to attend or know someone who can’t and asks for help, e-mail the MFEE and let them know. They will put your name on the party list and the status is confidential. You could also contact the host if you are comfortable doing so.
Tips From Other Toast Hosting Parents
Tips from a parent of twins:
- If possible, toast one class at a time. The all-grade toasts are chaotic and impersonal. It’s more fun for parents to meet in a small group with their teacher.
- Have a potluck. Don’t spend money on outside catering and food. Ask parents to chip in. When I hosted the Toast, people loved helping out. We get asked for money all year long. So it’s nice to contribute something to eat or drink instead of whipping out the checkbook again.
- Do a Toast without kids. Give the poor teacher a break. Give yourself a break.
- Be prepared for someone from the BoE to drop by.
Tips from a parent who hosted a multi-class party:
- Only do it if you are absolutely, positively certain you don’t mind having 30+ people in your house and your backyard.
- Make it simple for yourself: limit the menu and limit the choice of drinks.
- Cater if you must. But offer a few home-made options. Your guests will love that.
Tips from a parent who throws some of the highest grossing parties:
- The basics to successful is the team of co-hosts. This eliminates drama.
- Promote, promote, promote.
- Have the basket for the MFEE donations for those that come and presume they paid.
- I also thinks kids being at Toast are key. Don’t understand the ones that are kid free.
Tips from a parent/teacher:
- Always try to stress that although it’s a fundraiser, we really just want people to come because it’s a community event and a chance to thank the teacher. We don’t really pay attention to who pays or not but I think people are pretty good about it. The more people that come, the better—makes for a much better party!
- Play good music.
Cheers to all of our hard working teachers everywhere.
Thank-you for taking care of our babies!
Have you hosted a Toast? Share your tips with us in comments.