The holidays are coming up quickly and, if you’re like me, the perennial question looms large: “What am I going to give the kids’ teachers?” I want to recognize their hard work and celebrate the half-way mark in the year, but I don’t have unlimited time (or money) to come up with just the right thing. What’s a harried-but-well-intentioned-gift-giver to do?
1. Be aware. Are there religious, culture, or economic issues that will make gift giving awkward? Are there events like parties, book exchanges, or canned food drives that take the place of gifts? If you’re uncertain, check with the school for policies around gift giving.
2. Work together for maximum impact and fun: Organize one class gift to the teacher, given by all the students and funded through a “donate what you can” email.
3. Think beyond the apple. Teachers don’t need more “teacher stuff.” Step away from the “Teachers Have Class” and “A+ Teacher” mugs, hangings, ornaments, ties and scarves. There’s a reason why those items are marked down- or on the ”Free” table at yard sales.
4. Think personal, not professional. Avoid gifts that are donations to the classroom rather than tokens for the teacher. This is your opportunity to encourage him to take some time to rest and recharge.
5. Gift cards are your friend- but they’re not all created equal. Do a little detective work (or just ask) and find out what stores, restaurants or services the teacher enjoys.
6. Avoid homemade goodies. It only took one Hepatitis A outbreak to make me leery of eating something that was made in someone else’s home. Also: Food Allergies. You don’t want your legacy to be “That winter break where we had to rush Susie to the ER because the cookies from M’s mom had the wrong kind of chocolate chips in them.”
7. Budget too tight? Write a thank you note- a sincere one- noting specific things you appreciate about the work your child’s teacher has done. Have your child write one, too, and tuck it inside. I know a lot of teachers who cherish their “bad day file,” filled with small notes reminding them that what they do does matter, even when things aren’t going well.
What are you favorite teacher gifts- to give and to receive? What other advice would you add?
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