Monday, December 23, 2013

Teacher Gifts

Gifts for teachers is something I've struggled with the past couple of years. We are so blessed with amazing teachers and my children have absolutely loved these women who thoughtfully care for them each day. And when Christmas time comes, we want to provide a little something fun for them to express our appreciation.

But what?

Well, the trend around here is for the mother helper for each class to send out an email call for monetary donations ($5-$10 or whatever you feel comfortable giving) and then organize the purchase of a gift card. And I do support this effort. Teachers have chosen a professional calling and it's one that doesn't pay nearly what it deserves. I like that we're helping them out a little during an expensive time of year and/or providing a way for them to treat themselves in whatever way is most fitting. One person's new sweater is another person's movie and date night with a spouse. I can't begin to guess the way they want to treat themselves.

But, still... we want to do something a bit more personal alongside this general treat.

In previous years, we baked cookies and packed them up with a bow. These are the kinds of gifts I appreciate most because I am allergic to unnecessary clutter and because I have visions of some poor teacher building an addition to her home to store all Christmas tchotchkes collected over the years.

I tend to use a different standard for our teacher gifts. Can this gift be appreciated for what it is worth (a personal thank you) and then either consumed or trashed without guilt or burden? That is what makes it a good gift. It brightens your day, but doesn't collect dust.

This year's gift to our teachers turned out to be a small plant. And I think this one could go either way. You can water it and keep it and let it be a permanent part of your household, or you can pass it along to a family member who has a green thumb, or you can trash it (rumor has it that plants are biodegradable) without fear that you're also throwing away someone's hard work.

We picked up a Frosty Fern (above) at Trader Joe's and stuck a cute little tag on it. Voila.

My original intention was to bake some cookies but I have been slammed with a head cold and I knew that I didn't have it in me to lead the kids in another round of baking this week. My beloved lemon cookies may turnout to be New Year's cookies.

But I'm curious, do you have a go to teacher gift? Has a teacher ever mentioned to you the perfect gift? Design mom always has the cutest gift ideas for crafty families and I've taken some inspiration from that site. And Pinterest... well, that volcanic mountain of ideas knows no bounds. But if you've got limited time and resources, I tend towards something consumable or something natural.

But perhaps I've got it all wrong and a plant would be considered clutter also. What did you give this year? Or did you skip it altogether?


jessica said...

I think this is a great gift. I supervise early childhood teachers and I know they appreciate any gift from a family because it lets them know they are appreciated. That being said, yes, they make low wages and work way beyond the hours they spend at work. I know my teachers especially love gift cards for this reason. But they also like anything that families have taken note of them liking-like certain foods, Bath & Body Works items,fresh baked goods, things they might collect, etc. I know some schools offer lists of teachers' favorite things to help families with ideas-favorite snacks, beverages, scents, etc. The other thing my teachers love are wish list items for their classroom-in the early care world they LOVE gift cards for Lakeshore Learning or new books or art supplies.

Ann Price said...

We do baked goods and a gift card for the main teachers, chocolate bars for the rest of the school staff. One year I gave plants at the end of the year and said that I was happy to see how Elisa had grown and now they would have a plant to watch it grow and remember her by (Cheesy Factor: 10!!). But seriously, I also gave her preschool director a bottle of wine. And then later read that that's not even allowed! Ha! But she didn't turn it down!

So, yeah, all good ideas, but I think something personal besides the monetary is always nice. I also like writing out notes and telling them how much Elisa enjoys their class. I ask her to describe each teacher and sometimes I learn really funny stuff. Like one preschool teacher had incredible nails and she would get them done with little cartoon characters on them. Who knew that?? Elisa loved it and raved about her nails in her holiday card. The teacher almost cried.

Maggie said...

Good ideas, girls!

Kate said...

I suck. All of your ideas are great. I didn't know what to do this year b/c June's school did one of those communal gifts where everyone donates, and Georgia's school teacher asked that people instead donate to the mitten/scarf tree. So I followed along with these 'instructions' all the while wondering if everyone really followed the 'rules' or just did that stuff PLUS something else. So, so far I have not done anything in addition this year. But now I'm really feeling like I should have. Maybe I can send the girls back after break with something. I do love their teachers and want them to feel appreciated. I just struggle so in December to keep up with everything.
But I definitely like your ideas for avoiding clutter.

jessica said...

Kate-you did great! I think a note, like Ann talked about, is so meaningful. It means more than just a gift because people who work with children don't always get to hear the positives. (I'm sure this is not the case with any of you!) I've worked in child care since 1994 and you definitely have some amazing parents, but it is surprising how many parents say nothing-pick up their kid while on a phone call, or only say something when there is a complaint. Like most jobs, teaching and child care can often feel thankless. A note just saying thank you, or hey, my kid really digs this about you is an amazing thing.