Being the daughter of a teacher, I always loved the last day of school—as young kids my brother and I would eagerly gather around my mom to see what she received (and what we would get) as a parting gift from her students. There were great gifts and bad gifts—the latter of which we would selfishly groan about: “Chocolate covered cherry cordials? A whole pack? Who eats that?!” or “A silk rose?!? Really, that’s it, a silk rose?!?” So, now that my son’s first year of preschool is coming to a close, the beads of sweat have already begun to form on my neck. What will I get his teachers? It has to be GOOD—I don’t want their families gathering around my present, groaning. And I know I’m not alone here; getting your child’s teacher’s gift has to rank up there amongst most stressful things to do. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to poll a dozen different teachers, all in different school districts, private and public, preschool and elementary, to see what they enjoy receiving. I’ve also included the Do Not of Gift Giving so you know how to spend your money wisely–no use in buying a present that won’t get used. However, with all of that being said, Cheryl, a teacher in Northern California has this to say, “It really is all about having the child be thoughtful and appreciative of their teacher…so really, there is no bad or wrong gift.”
10. Flowers. Flowers or plants in pots was mentioned a few times. The teachers love them—what they don’t love? Having your kid decorate the pot. It’s cute and all, but doesn’t always look too good in the teacher’s living room.
9. Personalized stationary. Who wouldn’t love pretty note cards? It’s something that can always be used, especially if you have a great teacher (like my son’s) who writes a thank you note for everything he brings in to her. Check out Expressionery for a ton of cute ideas.
8. Homemade cards. Every teacher had them on her list. As teacher Maya says, “The most precious gifts are notes from students and parents because they took the time to appreciate you and your hard work.”
7. Baskets of homemade food. Are you a good baker? Get a pretty basket, put some of your delicious muffins in it, and round it off with a cookbook and baking pan, or some jelly and pretty spreading knives. Like this idea? Williams-Sonoma has it all.
6. Tickets to a local event. Teacher Jeanette wrote, “I think the best gift I got was from a pair of moms–tickets to an open air musical comedy theater with an outfitted picnic basket.” Just make sure to know their taste in music or if they love the ballet / theatre.
5. High quality soaps and lotions. The key words here are high quality. The decision was split on this one—half of the teachers loved it, the other half didn’t. If you choose to go this route, they give some advice: no strong smells and nothing from Hallmark. You can never go wrong with Origins.
4. Books for the classroom. One teacher, Carly, summed it up best, “I like resources for the kids…it’s not really about me, but it’s stuff you can always use. Especially when school budgets are low.” Amazon has a great selection, and make sure to check Breezy Mama’s Current Top Ten Children’s Books for ideas.
3. A spa gift card. Almost every teacher mentioned they would love to have this. Since it’s a big gift, every child in the class can contribute.
2. A “book” of homemade cards. Yes, your teachers are sentimental and quite a few mentioned that they have received this gift from prior classes and loved it. Some, like teacher Alison, even cried. See Breezy Mama Tip (below) for more info on how to create one for your child’s teacher.
1. Gift cards. This was the clear winner—every single person polled had this at the top of their list. Whether it’s to a grocery store, Target, bookstore, Starbuck’s, or restaurant, you can never go wrong with a gift card. To make it even better, have the entire class contribute so it can go a long way. Also, make sure to get it to suit the teacher’s personality and taste. Do they like tea rather than coffee? Make it a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf card. Also, as Carly pointed out, “The other bonus to gift cards is that they are usually associated with SCRIPT for schools.” That makes it a win-win for everyone.
And now . . . what NOT to get. Along with the aforementioned, some things include:
4. Christmas ornaments (although one teacher likes receiving them, so it’s your call)
3. Sorry to all the knitters out there, but they really don’t like receiving the scarves that you hand crochet—they are thoughtful, but they wouldn’t ever wear them.
2. Items with the child’s picture on it (mugs, bags, pot holders) As one teacher put, “I love my students but I don’t want to carry them around forever” and another said, “I have kids of my own, thank you.”
1. And the number one thing? Items that say “world’s best teacher” or “for my teacher”. I guess this goes along with the “no on Hallmark” comment. They already know they are the best teacher, so they don’t need a pin to confirm it.
Breezy Mama Tip: If you’d like to make the book of cards from students for your child’s teacher, this is how Maya (who has been the room mom for her sons’ classes) says is the best way to do it: Each student has a page to draw a picture and write their favorite memory of the school year. Parents then bind them at Kinkos or if their school is gracious enough, they can bind them in the staff room. Usually the last page of the book is a gift card holder. The room mom can collect a certain dollar amount ($5.00 -$10.00) from each parent and they present either a Visa gift card with the collected amount or a gift card to the teacher’s favorite restaurant, for example.
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