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The Best Teacher Gifts Have Nothing to Do With Apples Or School Buses – I Promise
Guess this: we entrust our teachers with the upbringing and well-being of our children for most of their day, every day. We know that educators have a tremendous influence on the growth and development of our children. We know teachers are underpaid and overworked. We know that education is a labor of love and that a truly amazing teacher can positively change the lives of our children… In short, teachers are totally awesome, so why do we think a 5 tchotchke $ from the Christmas tree shop is a good choice? way to show our thanks?
I actually don’t have kids, but I have a number of friends who are teachers, and I’ve seen some pretty incredibly awful things being dutifully brought home in brightly colored gift bags . Seriously folks, CHILL IT WITH THE APPLE! (or anything that says teacher #1 or has a school bus on it for that matter).
1. The best gifts are personal, they don’t even have to cost money. Teachers don’t expect fancy gifts, but they like to know they’re recognized and appreciated. A homemade card and a heartfelt sentiment from you and/or your child (preferably both) will win hands down a bin sno-globe bargain any day. However, if you can wrap your sentiment around a nice gift…well, all the better.
2. Gift cards/certificates! Chances are you don’t know where your teacher likes to shop or what he does in his spare time. Generic bank gift cards, Target, Starbucks or mall gift cards are therefore quite safe. A gift certificate for a local day spa or good local restaurant is also appropriate. *NOTE* this does not mean APPLEBEES! It means locally owned, a bit upmarket and with amazing food. Also, the amount should be enough for a full meal. For gift cards in general, if you can’t afford to give a reasonable amount, then don’t go that route. Just stick with the cool map option as detailed above.
3. Stuff! So you want to give a concrete “little something”, that’s good. Just stay away from apple/teacher oriented garbage (because that’s where it will inevitably end up) and try to get something attractive, useful and of good quality. A few ideas that won’t decimate your budget:
– A really nice (and maybe eco-friendly) travel mug.
– An adorable novelty flash player.
– A set of beautiful stationery or blank cards (I’m talking about letterpress, not gold crown punch).
– A pretty, reusable and solid bag (teachers always have so much to carry!).
– Or, make a collection with the other parents and buy a big item like tickets to a professional sports game, a high-value gift card, or something specially designed to suit your favorite teacher.
Not earth-shattering innovation, but certainly less likely to end up at Goodwill.
4. Pitfalls! Besides not buying bullshit, there are a few other things to avoid in the world of classy gifts for teachers:
– A gift for the class is not a gift for the teacher. If you want to give something nice to the class, do it separately. Give the teacher something for him/her. You wouldn’t give your housekeeper Windex as a holiday gift (or would you!?).
– Food is a slippery slope. Anything low fat, low calorie or diet seems insulting. Anything high in fat or decadent is just plain unhealthy (and probably made worse by high saturated fat food giveaways from at least 10 other parents). Aim for something in the middle. I think they’re sticky as hell, but do these edible arrangements sound popular, or maybe just gorgeous foil-wrapped fruit from Harry & David? Or, if you must give candy, let it be the best candy available. Unless they are diabetic or allergic to chocolate, Godiva is generally a no-fail situation.
Ultimately, teacher gifts are optional, not mandatory. If you can’t muster something really nice or thoughtful to say/give to your child’s teacher (let’s face it, they’re not all gems), then skip it altogether. Chances are they won’t even notice.
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