A Teacher’s Holiday Gift Guide

People have asked me recently, “What should I get for my child’s teacher for a gift?”  Trust me, every teacher, especially if they’ve been around awhile, has many, many things with apples on them, and doesn’t need more.  Also mugs.  Every time I moved I donated boxes of mugs because I simply couldn’t store them all, even if I wanted to.  (If you do decide on the mug route, pick a large sturdy one with a heavy handle.  I’ve had many fancy teacher mugs with cute pencil-shaped handles that shattered once you put liquid in.)

So, here are a few ideas.

1) Gift cards.  I know people think that seems lazy, but they really are appreciated.  On a teaching salary, restaurants are a rare treat.  Coffee shops provide much needed caffeine.  Cards to places like Target are wonderful, and grocery or gas cards?  Oh yes.  Those generic Visa cash cards are great too.  And don’t worry if the teacher likes the place–in most schools I’ve been in, teachers discretely traded cards at the end of the day so everyone got what they needed.  Once, my class gathered cash and gave me a “money tree” and a card.  I bought books.  It was wonderful.

2) Gift cards to teacher stores.  Always appreciated!  It’s an excuse to go get that bonus curriculum book or fun teaching game that you just couldn’t quite justify otherwise, or to refurbish some of those classroom displays.

3) One of my favorites was books for my classroom library.  Sometimes, people bought books and had their child write a message inside, or put in a label that said who it was from.  You can never have too many books, and every time I read it to future classrooms, I think of the student who gave it to me.

4) Handmade cards and ornaments.  I love these.  My tree is covered with handmade ornaments from kindergartners and first graders.  My favorite was made by a special needs child–her mom was embarrassed because “she just scribbled on it,” but I knew how difficult those scribbles were for her, and I miss her every time I see it.  Don’t be embarrassed about your child’s work–their teacher knows and loves it, too.  If you have a wallet sized portrait of your child, toss that in, too.  I have all of mine collected in a scrapbook!

5) Cookies and snacks are fun, and usually if the teacher doesn’t eat it, it goes into the lounge and is enjoyed by all.

My favorite gifts from students, aside from ornaments?  One of my students knew I loved tea, so he brought me a bag of different kinds of tea he collected–some were just single bags, some a full box, but it was awesome because it was personal.  (He also loved tea)  Another child knew I liked gardening, and brought me a plant for my garden; it brought me a year of joy.  One of my students shared my love of Final Fantasy, and wrote me a fanfic, as well as a booklet of his own handwritten short stories.  He labeled it, “For my weird teacher, who loves me because I’m weird too.”

Those little handmade touches are wonderful.  Whatever it is, don’t be embarrassed or afraid the teacher won’t like it.  Everything is appreciated.

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