6 Sure-to-please gift ideas for teachers

Dec 4, 2012 at 6:43 a.m. ET

Stumped when it comes to giving your kids' teachers gifts for the holiday season? Forget candles and personalized ornaments. These are the gifts teachers really want.

Teachers will be the first ones to tell you to skip anything with an apple on it this Christmas. Instead, take the time to say thank you with a gift that she'll be able to use. Try one of these six sure-to-please holiday gifts for teachers.

Baileys Irish Cream Chocolates

Beverages for grownups

Teachers work long hours in a highly stressful atmosphere. In short, most teachers will appreciate booze for Christmas. Wrap a bottle of wine or flavored spirits in a discreet box or gift bag, and include a handwritten thank you note for all of her hard work. Want to indulge her sweet tooth with a side of liquor? Try Baileys Irish Cream chocolates. If you're worried that your child's teacher might not drink alcohol, it's perfectly OK to ask her before you purchase a gift. (Amazon, $25)


Gift cards for coffee and food

When you want to make sure your child's teacher gets exactly what she wants, opt for a gift card. Consider getting together with other parents in your child's classroom to pool money for a larger sum gift card from the whole class. When it comes to buying gift cards, try indulgences like local restaurants or big stores where she'll definitely find something she likes. For a gift she'll make the most of this chilly season, go with the crowd pleaser by picking up a Starbucks gift card that she can reload and earn rewards with. (Starbucks, prices will vary)

Spa Finder gift card

Massage and spa gift certificates

Your child's teacher is on her feet most of the day, working in an atmosphere that's sure to frazzle even the most patient personality once in a while. Help her wind down and pamper herself with a massage or local spa gift certificate. Get with other parents to cover the cost of a full massage, or spend around $30 on a card that will cover a nice spa pedicure. For a gift redeemable at over 20,000 spas and wellness centers, try a Spafinder Wellness gift card. (SpaFinder, prices will vary)

Dry-Erase Starter Kit

School supplies for the classroom

Teachers have to spend their own money for many of the supplies and decorations that make up your child's classroom. When you consider the average salary of a teacher, you can see what a generous sacrifice this is. Ask your child's teacher what kinds of items she's looking for. Many teachers set up a wish list in the classroom. For Christmas, give her a gift basket full of items she needs to keep the classroom running. Don't forget a Quartet EnduraGlide dry-erase starter kit for the whiteboard. (Staples, $11)

planters from ikea

Classroom-friendly plants

If you give your child's teacher a plant, stick to something hardy that requires very little maintenance or water. Small succulents are a great option, and provide an additional science lesson for kids who may be curious about how plants can survive with very little water. Shop for a cute container for the plant and present it with a holiday card. If you have a lot of teachers to shop for, look for inexpensive containers, like the Papaja plant pot. (Ikea, $2)

Fifty Shades of Chicken

Gifts that show you know her

Have you taken the time to get to know your child's teacher this school year? Show her how much you care with a gift that caters to her interests and personality. This may be the trickiest gift of all, but it's the one that will make the biggest impact. Does she have a fitness hobby or a favorite television show? Does she love to cook? Try this parody cookbook, Fifty Shades of Chicken. (Barnes and Noble, $13)

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