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A couple weeks ago I reached out to friends on Facebook to help me with a podcast segment about holiday gifts for teachers. Man did they come through with tons of suggestions! I wasn’t able to use them all in the podcast so I wanted to put more of them here. Most private schools seem to be out for the year already, but here in NYC there’s public school all the way through Friday – plenty of time to get gifts for your kids’ teachers!
There was a bit of disagreement among my friends about personalized/personal gifts versus gift card-type gifts. When my kids were in elementary school I didn’t usually give gifts that were designed for a particular person – they all got the same thing, mostly: some homemade cookies and a Target gift card. But that was out of laziness more than anything. I do tend to think that teachers probably get too many mugs and plaques and cute little things to put on their desks, but I could be wrong.
Thanks to all of my friends who responded!
Gift Cards & Certificates
My cousin Deneen said that out of all the teachers she’s talked to over the years, almost all of them prefer gift cards. And if you just don’t know a teacher well enough, a gift card to a place like Target, Wal-Mart, or Amazon is a safe bet. You can even gift someone Amazon Prime, for either 3 months or a full year. If they have it already, the gift will extend their membership, saving them money. Same with a Netflix membership.
Alexandra, of the Good Day, Regular People blog, suggests movie tickets. “All of my teachers LOVE having something to do over break that is no cost to them.”
If you want to add on to that idea and make it dinner and a movie, Open Table has gift certificates. Just make sure the recipients know they have to book the restaurant through Open Table in order to use the credit.
My friend Kate of My Mommy Brain says that yes, teachers love getting gift cards, but that all of the teachers she spoke to said they’d also love to get a handwritten note from a student, no purchased gift needed. I say, have the kid write a note but then stick a gift card in there with it. :-)
Cups & Bottles – the good ones!
My friend Brittany from That’s Vandy likes to get teachers a Kleen Kanteen water bottle (one with a nicer spout, not a chinzty one) and stuff it with a Target gift card and some candy. Or, if you know the teacher prefers hot drinks, my podcast co-host Rebecca of KidzVuz swears by the Zojirushi stainless steel mug, which reportedly keeps drinks piping hot for an insanely long time.Most teachers want gift cards, but you can still be creative in how you present them! Click To Tweet
Tailored to a Teacher
My friend Monica, of Macaroni Kid East, had suggestions that were definitely very specific for each teacher, and the gifts were very special. If you know your child’s teacher well enough, try to get her something that she’ll really use. “Last year, we had a teacher who was also a yoga instructor, so we got her an infinity scarf from Lululemon. The year before, the teacher was taking a beach vacation so I ordered her a monogrammed beach blanket from Lands’ End with her initials on it. I’ve also done really nice umbrellas from Vera Bradley, since you can never have too many umbrellas.”
My friend Jessica of the peek a baby blog had her child decorate mugs for preschool teachers and fill them with herbal teas or coffee, depending on the teacher. She said a couple of them were moved to tears by the thoughtfulness! You can buy paint markers and porcelain mugs and once the design is dry, the mug can be baked in an oven to make it dishwasher-proof.
But how do you get to know teachers when you don’t really get a chance to talk to them? I know when my kids were little there was just too much happening at drop off and pick up to really chat. Well, my genius friend Destiny of Suburban Wife, City Life came up with a free printable that you can give to teachers to get some basic info about them. It’s nothing intrusive, and will take them only a minute to fill out.
Teachers Helping Other Teachers
A lot of teachers spend their own money on supplies and their private time on prep. Teachers Pay Teachers is a site that lets teachers buy resources from other teachers, so when you give a gift card from there you’re not just helping your teacher save some time, you’re helping another teacher make some extra money! Big thanks to my friend Jessica for this suggestion.
My friend Christy of Quirky Fusion suggests fun, colorful office supplies, things that might be a bit of a splurge but will brighten a teacher’s day as she uses them up.
I’ll add that if you know for sure that the teacher has a good sense of humor, a funny teacher gift might be appropriate.
Other Great Gift Guides
Some of my friends already had their own great teacher gift guides published, so you should check those out too!
My friend Leticia of Tech Savvy Mama not only has some great teacher gift suggestions in her guide, but also some dos and don’ts of teacher gift giving.
Dagmar of Dagmar’s Home has some easy DIY suggestions for teacher gifts.
Julie of Julieverse has six easy ideas teachers will love.
My friend Sarah has some techy gifts for teachers over on Family Tech Zone.
The last word, from a teacher
I’ll leave the last word to my high-school classmate Leslie, who grew up to become a teacher: “The best gift is a thoughtful note or card from you or your child telling me how I have been a positive part of your child’s educational experience. We keep these notes in boxes and read them again and again on the bad days. Gift cards are so nice as well as small luxuries. Nice tea, quality hand lotion, good chocolate. Not big gifts. I have a holiday tree full of ornaments from former students that make me smile every year!”