Early November is usually when the questions start: My friends want to know what it is that we teachers really want to get for the holidays. Well, for one thing, let this be a PSA to you parents who think you have >to get your child’s teacher a holiday gift to show you appreciation: No, you don’t.
In fact, most teachers say their favorite “gifts” are the cards and notes they receive from students. I know I keep a folder of these and look at them when I’m having a bad day — and they’ve lasted longer than just about anything else I’ve received from students and their families because they truly show the love.
That said, my colleagues and I are also big fans of the gift cards we receive. I know; this seems impersonal. But one way to personalize it is to see if you can find out something about the teacher’s special interests or favorite item. Margaret, an elementary teacher, loved an ABC gift card she got because she was so excited about being able to drink beer again after giving birth. Bernie, also a high school teacher, says he appreciates when kids actually notice his love of comics. Cynthia, a high school teacher, says one of her favorite gifts ever was tickets to a baseball game, her favorite sport.
You may want to see if your school or PTA already does something like a My Favorite Things list for teachers — like this one from Skip to My Lou — to help eliminate some of the guesswork. But if not, there are plenty of teacher-approved suggestions for actual gift items out there — just check out our list of favorites below. But, again: Target, Starbucks and Amazon cards are always welcome too. Hint, hint.
Sphere ice molds, $16.99 for a set of two at Amazon
Jazz up the usual coffee/tea offering with this spectacular mug (also available in 16-ounce). If you’re really feeling the love, add a special version of the teacher’s preferred beverage — like Wicked Dark Sumatra Coffee or organic cream Earl Grey black tea. Trust me: Most teachers depend greatly on their caffeine. Rose Gold Zojirushi stainless mug (12 ounces), $24.75 at Amazon
The right pen can make all that grading go somuch faster. Not sure what the magic is, but it’s true nevertheless — fun pens are highly coveted among teachers.
Staedtler 36-piece marker set, $19.20 at Amazon
Lesson planning never stops, and the best ideas always strike when you’re washing dishes, in the shower, at the pool — basically anywhere you have no way of writing them down. Until now, that is.
Aqua Notes waterproof pad, $7.70 at Amazon
Most teachers agree that any classroom supplies they typically stock are welcome and practical gifts, but I’d say that especially includes nice, natural hand sanitizer kids and teachers alike will use (or that teachers might just keep in a desk drawer for themselves). And if you’re really feeling thoughtful, add a box or two of tissues. Cold season is tough on everyone.
Hand sanitizer bundle, $5.95 each at Honest
My friends who are English teachers — of course — say they love when students give a copy of their favorite book to contribute to a classroom library. Bonus: It’s always nice to have titles you already know are student-approved.
Turtles All the Way Down (hardcover), $11.99 at Barnes & Noble
A special memento for Hanukkah, Christmas or another holiday is a thoughtful way of adding beauty to your favorite educator’s family celebration. Steer clear of the apple-shaped and “#1 Teacher”-emblazoned stuff, though — it’s nice to acknowledge that teachers have well-rounded lives beyond the classroom.
Large mercury glass etched ornament, $16.50 at Pottery Barn