being a teacher

I Wish, I Wish – A Gift Guide (Or Not) For Teachers

image from icanread

A few years ago, I wrote this blog post by request on a now defunct blog.  Since I was just asked about this again, I thought it would only be fitting to re-post it with a few updates.

Every holiday season without fail I pick up a well renowned women’s magazine and find gift suggestion for teachers.  And every year I am surprised that magazines continue to perpetuate the myth that teachers like apples.  I am not sure what the history behind this supposed infatuation is, but I am here to say it is not true.  I like apples, don’t get me wrong, but I do not like apple-shaped things, no matter how expensive they are.  So upon some pushing from my husband and friends, I present to you some gift ideas for the teacher in your life.

First a note; this does not mean you need to buy teachers gift, I am not advocating that, this is merely a guide for those who do choose to give teachers presents.

First the don’ts:

  • Stay away from the apples.  Some teachers do find apple shaped things cute, most don’t.  I am amazed at the sheer market of apple shaped things that are out there, who would have known that you could get a crystal encrusted hard perfume shaped like an apple for a mere $80.  No thank you.
  • Be aware of scented things.  Some people are allergic to certain scents while others just have incredibly delicate noses, I fall in the latter category.  One year I witnessed a colleague receive an incredible gift set of lotions, candles, and home fragrance stuff, and while she was indeed incredibly grateful, the scent made her sneeze violently so much so that she ended up giving it away.
  • Say no to the lotion – unless you know the brand that they use.  I have been  to a fellow teacher’s house who had an entire cabinet of various lotions, so much lotion that she would never be able to use it all in her lifetime.  I like lotion but I am picky with the one I use, back to the whole scent point, so these crazy gift-sets with all the body goodness?  Maybe not the best idea.
  • Be wary of jewelry.  I know a lot of teacher with nickel allergy, myself included, which means that pretty much any jewelry that is not sterling silver or 14k yellow gold will give us a nasty allergic reaction (because of the nickel mixed in the metal to make it look like silver).  Therefore, jewelry is often not a great idea because we want to wear it to show our appreciation.  I have had friends that have gotten such bad rashes from their gratitude that they had to go to the doctor.

A note on handmade.  I like handmade things, if they are useful.  I once received a pair of hand-knitted socks and I use them every night for sleeping.  These socks remind me of the student and the care that they took to have their grandmother knit them for me.  I love those socks.  Handmade, however, should be something that can be used and not as a decoration.  I have a very sparse home and I feel incredibly guilty when I do not display things that have been made for me, however, I would never be able to relax in my own house if I did.

So then the do’s:

  • Do write a note.  Often this is the best present we can get.  If a teacher has shaped your life somehow or if you like what they are doing – tell them. This present beats all of the other presents hands downs every year.  I have half of a drawer filled with the notes I have received and I pull them out on days when I need a pick me up. .  They are treasured and so is the child or parent who wrote them.
  • Gift-cards.  I know this seems greedy and cold, but the gift-cards I get I most often use for things for the classroom.  Amazon or one to the local independent book store makes me jump for joy!  Target means bins, pillows, and other things to make our room more useful.  Starbucks – yeah that’s to keep me awake and energetic.  And it doesn’t have to be anything big – again, teachers do not expect presents.
  • A Special Book.  One year I was gifted  a copy of a parent’s favorite childhood book as a way to enrich our library.  The note and the book are two items that I still cherish because she wanted future students to fall in love with reading like she had.
  • A Charitable Donation – Times are tough and budgets are slashed everywhere, so how about making a charitable donation in the teacher’s name?  You can pick the charity and just let them know.
  • An Event.  I was once given a free babysitting of my daughter pass so that my husband and I could go on a date – that was incredibly thoughtful.  I have also seen teacher’s receive restaurant gift-cards or massage passes, trust me, those are appreciated so much.
  • Something personal.  I know a teacher that loves Shakespeare so whenever her students’ are able to surprise her with something new for her collection she just beams.  Not all teachers have collections; ask your child if you are unsure.  I love books which I am pretty sure the whole world knows.

Finally, to repeat; teachers do not expect gifts.  Ever.  Some people choose to give gifts and it is for those people this post is written.  I know that my friends often call me to ask what they should get a special teacher in their lives and for them I wrote this post.  Keep it simple, keep it small, and keep it meaningful.

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