It’s that time of year again when folks are making their holiday shopping lists, and checking them twice. And, one should never forget to include a small token of thanks for your children’s hard-working teachers!
Picking out teacher gifts always recalls for me the part in A Christmas Story when Ralphie (who reminds me a bit of my son) presents his teacher with an enormous fruit basket. In an attempt to avoid Ralphie’s eyebrow-raising scene, I always try to thoughtfully pick out a little treat that our dear teachers will truly use and enjoy.
Scratching your head about what to get the teachers on your list this holiday season?
Check out my go-to guide for teacher gifts, as well as a few items at the end to avoid:
- Insulated Water Bottle. Say goodbye to the clichéd teacher mugs and hello to chic insulated water bottles. Besides, not everyone drinks coffee, but everyone certainly drinks water. My go-to brand is Hydro Flask, which comes in a variety of shapes and colors. I bought a few bottles for my daughter’s pre-school teachers last year and was thrilled to see them showing up each day with their sweet new sips.
- Gift Cards. Gift cards might not be the most exciting gift, but they are always appreciated. I either go with a favorite neighborhood shop such as a bakery or delicatessen, or select a more generic store such as Target, Amazon, or Starbucks, where the recipient is sure to find something they like. To make the gift feel less generic, attach the card to a little treat from the store, such as a bag of Christmas Blend from Starbucks, or a nicely packaged baked good from the bakery.
- School Supply Restock. At the beginning of each year most parents get a list of school supplies to send with their children. These begin to dwindle by mid-year, often causing teachers to dip into their own funds for supplies. Lighten your teacher’s load by replenishing their stock of supplies with extra sharpies, markers, cleaning wipes, notebooks and the like. If your child has a snack built into their daily schedule, it also helps to throw in some extra store-bought snacks for when kiddos show up empty handed.
- Desk Emergency Kit. Teachers obviously spend a ton of time in their classrooms and at their desks. Putting together a little basket of emergency essentials for them to tuck in their desk drawers is a lovely gesture. Go-to grabs can include items like lip balm, gum, mints, power bars, headache meds, tea bags, notepads, pens, and maybe even a stress-relief essential oil roller. Quiz your child or have them do some recon on what their teacher eats/drinks/uses throughout the school day. We picked up a jumbo box of Swiss Miss hot chocolate last year for my son’s teacher when he mentioned her fueling up with a packet each afternoon.
- Small and Striking Indoor Plant. Flowers are lovely, but with their limited shelf life they can be a bit of a pain. Instead, visit your local floral shop or plant nursery, which will most likely have the best selection of potted plants, and select something small (that won’t take up much desk space) and striking. Succulents pots are a great go-to gift due to their limited watering requirements – check out the beautiful featured pic for an idea. If you’re on a budget this season, Trader Joe’s typically sells adorable succulent pots for under $10.
- Homemade Card from Your Child. If you do nothing else, always send a homemade card from your child, with a note of appreciation from the parents (bonus points if it includes an offer to volunteer in the classroom)! I like to create a card in an interview format that includes a child-drawn portrait of the teacher, then has questions for them to fill out such as “what does my teacher always say” or “what is his or her favorite activity each day.” I had my daughter do this for her teacher a few years back. Every time we run into her, she mentions that it’s on her fridge and makes her smile every day.
The Bah Humbug List. And, here’s a list of a few items I recommend avoiding. Because an unwanted gift ends up being both wasteful and a burden for the recipient.
- Holiday Trinkets. These are of course not very practical and often end up feeling like added clutter in a chaotic season.
- Home Décor or Clothing. It is never wise to make assumptions about a person’s taste when buying gifts. We all tend to purchase things we like, but everyone’s preferences are very different.
- Candy and Sweets. We personally end up with an overwhelming amount of candy and sweets each Christmas. If you really want to give a consumable, boxes of citrus are a lovely idea in the winter.
- Homemade Food or Treats. I know I might take a little heat for this one, but unless you have a close personal relationship with the teacher, I would skip giving them homemade treats or meals. Food allergies and aversions, not to mention not knowing the pet situation or standard of cleanliness and food handling in individual homes…let’s just say I’d pass.
- Needing Praise or Accolades for your Gift. Lastly, don’t expect more than and “thank you” from teachers when you hand over their gifts. They have many students and will probably be getting quite a few little treasures. Your gift should brighten their day, but not burden them with gratuity.
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