It is time once again for a post on teacher gifts.
I am sighing a little sigh as I begin, because it seems like every time we do a post on this subject we get a few teachers who are depressingly eager to make sure we know they throw away all baked goods (who knows how disgusting the students’ houses are?), or that they don’t want any more “useless crap,” or that really the only thing a teacher wants is cash for putting up with your nasty child. Well, and happy holidays to YOU too.
I am going on the assumption that it is a minority of teachers who feel this way, and that the majority (1) appreciate gifts and know no insult was intended if the gift doesn’t hit the mark, (2) know that these gifts are tokens, not a salary supplement, and (3) know that the parents, not knowing the teachers personally, MUST choose from the “hostess gift” category that includes candle/soap/candy. I am also assuming that, despite odd claims of having “closets full” of stuff they can’t use and don’t want, most teachers know they can pass on the things they don’t like to friends, relatives, shelters, and the kind of food bank that also takes toiletries.
Believing these things is what keeps me buying teacher gifts each year rather than crabbily throwing in the towel. Here is my list of best bets:
1. A gift card to a major, sells-everything kind of retailer. This year I got Target’s new bag of “gift coins” (round gift cards worth $5 each)—Target donates $2 to St. Jude’s for each bag of five coins, and St. Jude’s is my favorite charity. (I’ll give two coins to each classroom teacher. My kids are in elementary school, so they have one teacher each. If my kids were in daycare, where there can be several teachers per classroom, I don’t know WHAT I’d do. And I plan to stop doing teacher gifts when the kids are in middle school and have a different teacher for each subject.)
2. A gift card to a coffee shop of the sort that also sells pastries, tea, ground coffee, mugs, etc.
3. A “best of” gift. An eight-dollar box of four tiny Godiva chocolates is a better gift than an eight-dollar pound of some other brand. A single bar of ten-dollar soap is better than a ten-dollar gift set of soap, body wash, bubble bath, and bath salts. A small ten-dollar candle is better than two large five-dollar candles.
4. Memo paper or sticky notes. Even better: personalized with the teacher’s name.
5. An ornament.
And here are the things I avoid:
1. Apple- or teacher-themed items.
3. Scented things. When I go to Bath & Body Works, I like about one scent out of ten, and I actively dislike the others. I assume a lot of people are the same way, and that my chances of choosing a scent the teacher likes are slim.
4. Classroom supplies, unless specifically requested—I worry that otherwise it’s like getting printer paper and a box of pens for someone who works in an office.
5. Plants. It’s a good idea, but there are only so many plants a single household can (or wants to) support.