As the end of the school year approaches, I am turning my mind to the subject of teacher gifts. I enjoy buying gifts, but usually I know the teacher only in her teacherness--nothing personal that would tell me what she might truly like for herself. This means I buy the "hostess gift" type of present: things that most people like or can find a use for, such as candles, soaps, chocolates. I try to go for good stuff in those categories: Yankee and Crabtree and Lindt. But my goal is "nice treat" as opposed to "compensation for year spent with room full of brats": I aim for about $10 per classroom teacher, $5 per assistant teacher.
Here are a few things I never give. (1) Plants. I don't like giving someone something they have to take care of. (2) Any gift such as an ornament with the child's face on it, a craft made by the child, or a framed piece of the child's artwork. These are thrilling to parents only. (3) Teacher-themed gifts, such as wooden apples with "#1 Teacher!!" painted on them.
Other people might be avoiding the things I choose, for equally good reasons. A teacher might be diabetic or dieting. A teacher might not be able to use scented items, or might not like the particular scent. A teacher might have sensitive skin and only be able to use particular types of soap. I think of my ideas not as "safe" but as "safer": they may still fail, but they're a better bet than the 8x10 glamor shot of my child's face, and they're easier to regift if they're not right. On the other hand, one year I was looking online for ideas and I found a teachers' message board where teachers had written things like, "I have all the scented bath crap I can ever use!" and "Yay, more candles."
I'm always looking for more "do" and "don't" teacher gifts, so weigh in. You don't have to have school-aged children to give an opinion on this. If you're a teacher, do a whole post on it! Even if you have to hurt my feelings a little with words like "scented bath crap."
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