Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shopping for teacher gifts?

For the past few years, we've given Hannah's teachers tickets to "The Nutcracker" as a Christmas gift, which in kind of win-win, since she's in the show and always wants her teachers to see her.

Jack's get gift certificates to their restaurant or other eatery/drinkery of choice (Sonic, Starbucks, etc.), which has gone over pretty well.

If you're still trying to decide on teacher gifts, here's a little thing I wrote a few years back that might give you some ideas:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 (The Wichita Eagle)

I have a love-hate relationship with teacher gifts.

Love, because I truly cherish my children's teachers. I wish I could walk into their classrooms like Oprah Winfrey, happily showering them with gourmet foods, laptop computers, new cars and, of course, glue sticks.

But I hate the teacher-gift conundrum: Nothing seems good enough (least of all, my budget). And I'm always torn between the practical and personal: What do teachers really want?

Last week, I asked several teachers to forget the aw-shucks, it's-the -thought-that-counts mantra and give me the straight scoop on gifts. (Note: Their names have been withheld to protect their humility.) Here's what they said:

-- "I have enough teacher ornaments ('#1 Teacher!') to open my own gift shop! Teachers have a life outside the school environment."

-- "I love to receive movie passes, restaurant gift certificates, body lotions and gift cards to places like Wal-Mart, where you can buy items for the classroom."

-- "Many of those 'teacher things' (mugs, ornaments, etc.) are very cute, but if you have been teaching for any length of time at all. . . . You can do the math. Pretty soon, they're not all that cute."

-- "For me the best gifts are from parents who take the time to notice things about me and get to know me. . . . Last year I had a mom who noticed that I drink coffee, and she gave me a Starbucks gift card. That was fabulous ."

-- "Most middle school and high school teachers tend to be forgotten completely at Christmastime. I suppose it is because the child has several teachers, and parents tend to not be as involved at those levels."

-- "If kids feel they have to give me something, (I ask that they) give to a charity in my name. I also suggest that they take a name off of the Angel Tree instead of giving me a gift."

-- "I like gift cards from Barnes & Noble, Borders and Superior School Supply. The books I buy are then used to supplement classroom collections."

-- "I love homemade treats, because I don't have time to do much holiday baking."

-- "Just a heartfelt card or note to tell us we are appreciated is wonderful."

-- "The 'World's Greatest Teacher' plaque, pin or paperweight is great for a first-year teacher, but after that, enough is enough."

-- "Gift cards to bookstores are great. I always buy a book for the classroom and let the child know that I did that. Gifts to charity or organizations in my name are also well received."

-- "The most useful gifts are gift certificates to movies, restaurants or bookstores. The most meaningful gifts to me, though, are the ones that the kids make themselves. Even a simple card is very much appreciated if it's homemade."


Karen in Wichita said...

Thrift stores are an excellent place to find "#1 Teacher" plaques/figurines/ornaments, etc.

Which kind of says it all, really.

I once gave a teacher a mug, but she collected smiley faces and it was a ten-cent thrift store purchase. And even then, because I knew she had live plants in the classroom, I used it as a cache-pot for a start from a plant my son's great-grandfather gave me. I told her the source of the plant... and the mug.

I have three more mugs (and a tin tray) that I'm planning to give the principal, but they're mid-60's Fire King mugs with the Esso Tiger on them... on which the school's mascot is based (though I think I may be the only one who's twigged to that connection). I figure they'll go in the memorabilia case, though.

coppercorn said...

Our kids' teachers (K and 3rd) are each getting a jar of homegrown jalapeno jelly and a gift card for Cocoa Dolce.

FYI, anyone who wants to do Starbucks gift cards this year, last month Costco was selling a set of five $20 cards for $80. The nearest stores are in Lenexa and Overland Park, but if you have friends there who are members that is quite a deal!