Every December I am stumped on what to gift my children’s teachers with. Last year, with one child in daycare for the first time I was doubly stumped. Knowing just what to buy and how much to spend (or not spend) is always a hot topic among my parent groups. As the Parent Teacher President at our school, I’ve gained a bit of insight as to what our staff enjoys.
It is important for the children to be involved in the decision making and gift creation, I enjoy gathering the kids around the table for a gift giving huddle. Together, we brainstorm. What does each teacher/caregiver like? It always amazes me how many artists & crafters are found among the school staff and doesn’t shock me one bit how many drink coffee all day long. Once we’ve decided, the kids get to work assembling and creating their gifts.
Here are some ideas, please feel free to add yours in the comments. If you are a teacher, what gifts do you especially enjoy?
- A reusable mug with organic coffee, tea and cocoa
- Prettily displayed stack of hand crafted soaps
- Basket of goodies (fair trade chocolate, natural popcorn & pretzels)
- A handmade apron
- A gift card to a resale bookstore with a kid made bookmark
- Gift card for local coffee shop, deli, small shop
- Photograph of child and teacher in a handmade frame
- Donation to their favorite charity or cause
- Craft basket (do they love to draw, paint, knit, sew? Stock them up on supplies)
- A plant in a pot decorated by child
- A knit scarf (even 7 or 8 year old children can learn this simple project)
- A beaded necklace, bracelet or set (this is another projects kids can do with a little help)
- Make a Recycled Journal, include a set of fabulous (recyclable) stainless pens
Most of these ideas will help you stick with a Handmade (and eco-friendly) Holiday Pledge. I’ve found that no one is immune to a special handcrafted gift, having the children work on the projects make them doubly special. Let’s remember that the Holidays are NOT about money (or who can buy the biggest/most expensive gift).
–Handknit washcloth (paired with handmade/local soap). This takes a lot less time to knit than a scarf, and because washcloths are made out of (inexpensive) cotton yarn, you don’t have to worry about fiber allergies.
–Bulb forcing “kit.” This is what we’re doing for my daughter’s five teachers this year (she’s in a Montessori program). Each one will get a paperwhite bulb and a collection of river rocks, along with drawn/written instructions for how to force the bulb in their own jar/glass/vase at home. I like this gift idea because it doesn’t contribute to the glut of candy/cookies/food people get at gifts during this time of year, and it’s pretty minimalist and doesn’t create clutter in the recipient’s home. Plus when it’s freezing outside in February or so when the bulb flowers, it’s nice to get a little touch of spring!
I like the charity donation idea. My dad volunteers for The Arms of Jesus in Guatemala. I’m sure my daughter’s teacher would appreciate a donation in her name to the school there. I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for the early reminder.
Charity donations are a great idea IF you know what charities and causes the recipient supports. Donating based on your own preferences makes assumptions about what the recipient believes in.
If you make a donation in someone’s name to an organization that person doesn’t like, you may end up offending him or her. A donation to an organization with a religious affiliation (not matter how worthwhile the work it does), for example, may not be appreciated by someone who holds different religious beliefs. Similarly some animal-rights supports may not want money donated in their name to the United Way, which gives money to organizations the engage in animal testing.
Ultimately, a gift is intended to please the recipient (not the giver). For that reason, I think that charitable donation gifts–no matter how great the cause–are not good gifts unless you know for sure that it’s something the recipient would want.
As a teacher, I like hugs! Presents are not necessary, as I know how many families quietly suffer in poverty. A handdrawn card or pictures is always nice, too 🙂
Jamie Ervin says
@Elle- Very nicely said. One year when we were especially tight on funds the kids made their Teachers bookmarks with art and their photograph on it.
If the teacher is doing a good job, a letter to him/her copied to HR.
I recommend avoiding food and scented things. Honestly they are often thrown away before teachers leave for the holidays.
Chris Clark says
As a former high school teacher, I didn’t normally receive much in the way of holiday gifts from my students but, I know some kindergarten teachers that have boxes and boxes of stuff.
Gift cards to bookstores or teacher stores or even a fast food place near school are good. I think a bookmark or picture made by the students would be very nice. A letter from student to teacher saying thank you or stating something they have learned (some of my high school kids did this and it was great). A nice box of chocolates or an ornament would be good.
Some things to avoid… unless you know your child’s teacher well, resist the urge to give homemade food items as gifts. As a high school teacher I had pretty limited contact with my student’s parents. Not knowing what the state of the kitchen at home was, I always felt uncomfortable with homemade food gifts unfortunately.
As a child my Mom always bought a nice box of gourmet candy and a christmas ornament for my teachers. In the 7th grade, my teacher was forever breaking chalk and upset when she got too much chalk on her hands and therefore on her clothes. I suggested to my Mom that we buy her a chalk holder to keep her hands clean and it was a big hit.
And an elementary teacher might also appreciate a nice hardcover story book as most teachers have a large classroom library because they bought a lot of book themselves.