Becoming a parent made me appreciate two distinct contributors to a child’s life like never before: the mother and the teacher. As a younger-self, I had teachers who made me look at life differently and encouraged me to pursue passions–I also had ones who taught me how to overcome criticism, but that’s another post. When you’re a parent though and your child has a teacher who has directly impacted how they related to the world in a positive way you want to dedicate a shrine to them and have a parade in their honor.
I’ve been abundantly blessed in that department. My children have the incredible fortune of having had unbelievable educators who loved and supported them, and some of them are still in their lives today. Additionally, because my brother-in-law (also my daughters’ godfather) is a teacher, these heroes are near and dear to our family.
The holidays are the perfect time to show your appreciation, but I have a few caveats… First off, teachers are notoriously underpaid so I always contribute to a class cash pool at the holidays and again at the end of the school year that is used to buy America Express Gift Cards, and when I was a co-class parent I helped organize them. It may sound crass, but it’s very appreciated, trust me. Second, but on a related note, your PTA or DOE probably has an official policy or guidelines around class gifts to teachers and staff. Follow them and don’t pressure families to give outside their means. Our note requesting contributions said something about giving what you can afford and regardless of contribution or participation, every family name will be on the card to the teacher. Finally, sometimes I like to give a personal gift too (my child usually gives the actual gift) as a way to say Happy Holidays and Thank You. Here are some ideas for those personal gifts.
Coffee: No one deserves a morning jolt more than a teacher. A commuter mug is works whether your recipient does their sipping on the go or nurses a cup (or three) all day long. Additionally it’s more friendly to the environment than paper and shows some sass and personality.
What say teacher more than chalkboard? That’s why I love this creative spin on the traditional thermal mug. DCI “I Am Not A Paper Cup” – Chalkboard Thermal Ceramic Mug ($16.95, Amazon)
Teachers are unsung heroes, so these mugs are an homage to the wondrous and super amazing things they do.
Vando 12-Ounce Double Wall Ceramic Travel Mug with Silicone Lid, Wonder Woman and Superman ($13.99 each, Amazon)
I loved how utilitarian this mug was, letting your recipient write to-dos, reminders or homework notes.
Large Mondo Memo Mug ($18.95, Coffeecakes.com)
Clocks and Alarm: As a precursor to coffee, teachers need to wake up in the morning–usually at some ungodly hour. these alarms will help your favorite educator wake up prepared.
For the Hard to Wake: Help your recipient with the alarm that people love to hate.
Robotic Arm (starting at $49.99, ThinkGeek)
For the Preparer: Will it rain tomorrow? What to wear? This clock radio will have you opening your eyes with the answer. Weather Alert Radio Alarm Clock ($59.99 $39.99, Sharper Image)
For the Organizer: Count down to summer vacation, spring break or know how many days until mid-terms with an countdown clock. Event Countdown Clock ($19.99, Sharper Image)
Stationery: Even as we become more and more reliant on digital communication, my kids’ teachers will still sometimes use paper to send notes and I return them in kind… And I love that.
Deisgn-Her-Gals: Create a sweetly illustrated avatar and then personalize stationery and other paper goods.
Minted: Find amazing new designs from all over the world (or add your own works to the collective). They source designs through regular competitions, and you can vote.
Paper Style: Note cards, pads and stationery–personalize, monogram or just pick out a pretty design.
Food: A delicious treat is always a nice gesture and if you’re making them at home with the kids, they feel extra special when giving them to their teacher.
I enjoy making cookies at the holidays–the standard chocolate chip, especially–but my favorite cookie to make are the Momofuku Milk Bar cookies made from this special mix ($16.95, Williams Sonoma). NOTE: For a food enthusiast, the mix itself makes a great gift as does the aforementioned Cake Pop Kit.