Meaningful and Practical Gift Ideas for Teachers

With the holidays around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what to get your kids’ teachers to show your support and appreciation (and yes, you should definitely get them something).  Here are some of the best gifts you can bestow upon your children’s teachers this year.  (These tokens will surely earn you a sloppy smooch and might even earn your kid an A.  Just kidding.  Always worth a try, though, right?)

Coffee gift cards.  Teachers love coffee.  Much like salmon is to the bear in the wild, coffee is critical to the teacher’s survival.  Stock ’em up with a week’s worth of the good stuff, and you’ll make your kids’ (and in turn your own) life that much more pleasant.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Tissue.  There are never ever enough tissue boxes to last a month, let alone a whole year.  Want to make a teacher’s trimester?  Bring in a big ole box of nose wiping goodness (and splurge on the good stuff, too.  No one likes to blow their nose with sandpaper.)

White board markers and erasers.  Like tissue, these provisions run out faster than the cheap whiskey on 1/2 Off Well Drinks night at your local bar.  And they’re so expensive, teachers could waste their entire retirement stocking up on them.

Hand sanitizer.  If you think about it, schools are really just the Chuck E. Cheese of the germ world.  All those bacteria get together and have a party on the classroom desks, jumping from one kid’s snotty nose to another’s leaky eye.  Hand sanitizer won’t shut down business, but it will help stall the spread of infection in the classroom — and, consequently, in your own home.

Bottled water.  All that talking and encouraging during the day can leave teachers with dry, scratchy throats.  Supply them with a nice little stash of spring water, and they’ll be thanking you for sparing them from the horror of the bathroom tap water until June.

Chocolate.  Because chocolate.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Bandages.  Teachers use them for everything: cuts, scrapes, blisters, taping students’ flip flops back together.  You would crap your pants if you knew how many boxes of those things teachers go through (my high school students have gone through so many, they’ve driven me to steal my own son’s Scooby Doo bandages to replenish my inventory).

Bookstore gift cards.  Teachers like to read.  They also like to go someplace quiet where they can clear their heads.  Bookstores are like an educator’s Six Flags.

iTunes gift cards.  Students may think their teachers sleep under their desks (one actually exclaimed, “They let you out?!” when he saw Mr. Sammich at the grocery store), but the truth is, they like to jam as much as the next guy.

Massage gift certificates.  There’s something heavenly (and admittedly more than a bit creepy) about having a stranger rub one’s bare skin.  But seriously, massages can melt away a week’s worth of stress brought on by paper grading and lesson planning.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Permanent markers.  And not just because they smell so good (kidding).  Teachers use them for everything from writing reminder signs to grading work.

Red pens.  Or green or orange or purple.  It doesn’t really matter what color they are.  Teachers love pens!

Baby wipes.  Whether they teach first grade or tenth, teachers can use baby wipes for just about anything: wiping down desks, cleaning students’ hands, scrubbing spills.

Beer or wine.  I’m only half joking.  I remember a colleague recounting a story about the time a parent called his kids’ teachers into the parking lot to dispense we-appreciate-you booze out of his trunk.  Don’t worry; the odds of getting arrested are minimal.  I’d say 20% tops.

A good, old fashioned thank you card.  While material goods tip the happy scale, nothing quite overloads it like a sincere message from the heart.  Those are the true gifts — the ones that affirm teachers’ notions that they can and are making a difference in people’s lives.

Photo Credit: Fern on flickr
Photo Credit: Fern on flickr

Parents/students, what great gifts have you given?  Teachers, what gifts would you like to receive?