Not that apples and being called “The World’s Best Teacher” aren’t appreciated (everyone can benefit from a healthy snack and container for their caffeine source), but why not let our gift buying for teachers evolve too?
Published: December 1, 2017
By: Bethany Hunley
Raise your hand if you have ever gifted a teacher with an apple or a Christmas ornament saying something along the lines of “Number 1 Teacher.”
You raised your hand, didn’t you?
As a society that is constantly evolving and changing, why have our holiday gifts for teachers remained so stagnant for so long? Not that apples and being called “The World’s Best Teacher” aren’t appreciated (everyone can benefit from a healthy snack and container for their caffeine source), but why not let our gift buying for teachers evolve too?
As a mother of two with a certification in Elementary Education (and who now spends most of her time in a high school), I am constantly surrounded by teachers. I have spent the last several weeks asking teachers from each grade level to list some of the best Christmas gifts they have ever received from their students. With this insider information in hand, here are some of the gifts they suggested to me.
In a world filled with Pinterest, the internet is brimming with ideas on how to personalize everything. “Personalizing” something is now synonymous with sticking your monogram on everything from hair bows to mail boxes. While teachers most likely would not appreciate a monogrammed hair bow for a Christmas gift, they would appreciate and be able to effectively use personalized items. Whether you choose to simply purchase a set of vinyl stickers of either a teacher’s name or monogram or would rather buy a specific personalized item (stapler, pencil holder, door hanger, file holder, etc.), teachers can always appreciate having a clear way to determine what is theirs and what belongs to another teacher or student.
One of the most commonly named gifts from teachers is an insulated tumbler. Perfect for keeping cold beverages cold and hot beverages hot, these insulated tumblers are the perfect gift for someone who needs to stay caffeinated but has little access to a kitchen area with ice or a microwave. As another plus, vinyl stickers can be added to the outside of these tumblers with playful designs or even the teacher’s monogram.
The most popular Christmas gift mentioned among both elementary and secondary teachers was gift cards. Some people view gift cards as the lazy person’s gift. While that may be true in some cases, gifting teachers with gift cards actually makes a good deal of sense. What better way to show a teacher appreciation than providing them with a way to spend their time while they are away from the classroom and living their day-to-day life?
Jason Johnsey, a teacher at Helena High School, says, “I really appreciate gift cards, because they provide opportunities to do things that I enjoy while I’m away from the classroom without spending extra money so close to Christmas.”
Perhaps the teacher you are buying for loves coffee? A Starbucks or Dunkin Doughnuts gift card would be a gift they are sure to enjoy. You don’t get the impression that your child’s teacher has the chance to get out much? A gift card to a nice restaurant would be a thoughtful gift that they are sure to appreciate.
If you are more practical in your thinking and would like to give classroom related Christmas gifts, a gift card to Amazon would be the perfect way to add to your child’s classroom, while also saving the teacher some of their own money. Gift cards to local arts and crafts and book stores would also benefit both the classroom and the teacher’s personal finances.
Particularly among Elementary teachers, another favorite Christmas gift was handmade items. Sweet cards and pictures that your little one took the time to make themselves are keepsakes that all teachers cherish. Lindsey Rigdon, a teacher at Helena High School, says, “I love to keep and reread sweet notes from my students and their parents. They are the perfect pick-me-up when I am having a rough day.”
Perhaps more geared towards female teachers than male teachers, scented candles, body lotions and hand sanitizers were also mentioned. These are also the perfect gifts for thrifty buyers, as stores like Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle typically offer holiday deals on their products when bought in bulk. While a male teacher may not appreciate Ginger Bread scented hand lotion, candles now come in a variety of more masculine scents.
Sweet treats are a timeless favorite among teachers. Fresh baked breads, decadent brownies, and succulent cookies are almost always going to be a hit. Do not think that you have to bake these yourselves. While the added effort is sure to be appreciated, save yourself some time and grab these treats while at the grocery store. They will be eaten and enjoyed just the same. As a precaution, you may want to double check on any food allergies or dietary restrictions before purchasing anything.
One of the biggest tips regarding purchasing teacher Christmas gifts is to ask your child what their teacher likes. Perhaps they have mentioned a favorite restaurant, store, hobby, or sports team to their students during class. Ask your child to look around their classroom and see if there are any objects that indicate something that their teacher enjoys. This is one of the best ways to gather ideas for the perfect gift for your child’s teacher this holiday season.
If you are an overachiever and wish to spread a little more holiday cheer around your child’s school, be sure to remember the other faculty members who interact with your child each day. These include but are not limited to art teachers, music teachers, receptionists, nurses, cafeteria staff, custodians and principals. If your child is involved in a sport or after-school activity, be sure to remember their coach or activity’s sponsor when doing your holiday shopping as well.
Bethany Hunley is an area substitute teacher, mom and web editor of Birmingham Parent.