I worry EVERY SINGLE YEAR about teacher gifts. I worry about it twice: once before December vacation, and once at the end of the school year. We’re heading for the end of the school year now, so I’m about a month into worrying about it already.
One of my favorite ideas is to give a gift card to a coffee chain. Even if the teacher doesn’t drink coffee, she might drink tea or hot chocolate or soda or fruit drinks. And if she drinks only pure natural water from a mountain spring in her back yard, perhaps she drinks it with a doughnut or a biscotti or something. Starbucks lets you design a custom card, or you can pick one of the existing designs. People who have a Starbucks card get various bonus freebies, too, like free drink add-ons, and free coffee if they buy beans.
I ignore the stuff I read about teachers getting “too much soap and candle crap,” because BEEZUS. People struggle and fail to find good gifts for the relatives they’ve known ALL THEIR LIVES; it’s kind of challenging to make someone’s dream come true when you’ve met them twice during the entire year. Soap and candles and chocolates are the perfect gifts for people you don’t know, and I’m not hearing another word about it.
BUT! When I do give soap or candles or chocolates, I get AT LEAST as good quality as I would buy as a gift for a relative, and in fact I usually knock it up a level (not to be telling my relatives pls kthanx). Expensive French-milled soaps. Illuminations candles. Lindt or Godiva or Scharffen Berger chocolates. Here’s a cute Illuminations gift set that’s half-off, so you can get a $30 gift for more like $15 (find it in the Gift section, in “Gifts under $30″):
I like stationery as a gift idea, but many people don’t snail-mail. Teachers, however, write about a million little notes to parents every day, so personalized note pads might be just the thing. Since everyone has different tastes, I try to avoid hobbyish patterns like cats, dogs, or Snoopy, but a place like Colorful Images has a great selection of other choices too. Here’s a nice plain set that comes in a basket; it’s on sale for $12.99 (catalog source code ENRPAGB gets you free shipping on orders over $34.99 before May 20):
Finally, if you like the teacher, write the teacher a note saying so. Better yet: write it to the principal and give a copy to the teacher. I’ve talked about teacher gifts occasionally on my main blog, and again and again the teachers weigh in to say that gifts are great, but that letters of appreciation get saved forever.