As a former teacher, I am going to provide you with a friendly public service announcement. I recently went on a very popular craft/photo website while killing time. You know the one I’m talking about. It is currently chock full of ideas for “teacher gifts.” I know we all like to be creative. I know we all love to be thoughtful. But for the love of humanity, I am begging you to CEASE AND DESIST!
Trust me. No teacher wants a pencil holder made of pencils. And if they do, they are either too new at the job to know any better, or so close to retirement they just don’t give a flying fig. The same goes for stickers or markers or whatever in Mason jars…would you give your accountant a Mason jar full of calculators? I hope not. Save the Mason jars for pickles or salsa. And unless you have an award winning recipe, we don’t want that mess either. Seriously. Also, regarding gift cards to the educational/teacher store…please consider that the equivalent of gifting a stay-at-home mom with a Costo sized jug of laundry detergent. I know it is the thought that counts, but honestly, what the hell are you thinking? And you wonder why you had a a whiner, a runner, and a nose-picker assigned to you on the last field trip.
We are all on a budget, and we all want to provide thoughtful gifts for these hard working, dedicated people who are stuck in a room with our kids all day. Please believe me…there are MUCH BETTER options out there than a Christmas mug full of candy canes. So here is the list. And the reasons why you should consider it.
1. Gift cards to places like Target, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble or any other store your teacher likes: Even small amounts ($5-$10) are appreciated. Or better yet, rally the parents and get them to donate 3-5 dollars each. With a classroom of 30 kids, you can give your teacher a fairly nice shopping spree. I know this seems like an impersonal and typical present. So why should you do this? Because your teacher spends countless amounts of his/her own money on toys, games, and supplies for the classroom. Let her know you appreciate it by giving her an opportunity to shop for herself. Also, you won’t be spending your hard earned money on something that will end up in next summer’s garage sale. Don’t worry, DIY craft lovers. You can still stick the damn card in a Mason jar.
2. Me Time presents: Gift certificates for a massage, mani-pedi, or really nice restaurant. I know of a classroom that gifted their teacher with the knitting lessons she was planning to take at the local yarn shop. Find out what your teacher likes and again, rally those parents and save everyone a few bucks. Collecting several dollars from each person for a gift certificate is far cheaper than having to spring for it on your own. Pretty much every classroom has an email contact list nowadays. Use it. Why should you do this? Because your teacher probably spends every Sunday night doing a lesson plan, and every other night grading papers, and all her other time preparing things, attending school events, and going to classes to keep that teacher certification up to date. Give them a couple hours off. Again, you can stick the damn card in a Mason jar.
3. Time: If you can’t afford to even put in just a few dollars, offer the gift of time. Volunteer in the classroom. And I mean actually volunteer, as in doing something useful. Don’t just stand in the back of the classroom with your Starbucks in your hand gossiping with the other parents. If you can’t physically come to school, offer to do things at home. Staple booklets together, sort papers, make playdough. Anything. The parents who were willing to cut out projects for me were always my heroes. Don’t think you have any time? If you have time to hot glue ribbons and pencils to a cup, you have time to cut out 32 snowmen. Why should you do this? Because if you don’t, your teacher will be doing it at 1 o’clock in the morning. Because that is the only time he/she can fit it in after doing all the other stuff I mentioned in #1 and #2. Also, you can make little coupons with your offers of time and stick them in a Mason jar.
I am going to get into so much trouble for this last one…
4. Wine: There is nothing wrong with giving a bottle of wine. Throw it in a nice bag and the kids won’t have a clue. And it doesn’t have to be pricey. You can’t be a wine snob on a teacher’s salary. Why should you do this? Spend a day or two in the classroom right after several indoor recesses or the time change. You’ll understand. A bottle of wine won’t fit in a Mason jar. But you can give them the kind with a straw
FYI, I don’t teach anymore, but I am now really good friends with the moms who gave me this: