What do teachers want as a gift during the holidays? Not an apple.
When I asked parents and teachers, the answer, overwhelmingly, was gift cards and a heartfelt thank you. Gift cards give teachers the freedom to purchase something for the classroom or treat themselves to something they want (deservedly, of course). Cash feels transactional ($50 for that A+) and prepaid debit cards often come with fees. Gift cards, on the other hand, don’t expire for five years (though there can be fees if you don’t use it within a year) by law.
That said, gift cards by themselves can be boring to gift. The solution? Dress them up.
One simple way is to place the gift cards in a blank envelope decorated by your child. These mini brown envelopes offer a nice blank canvas for colorful doodles.
You can also pick a theme and pair the gift card accordingly. For instance, for a gift card to a neighborhood grocery store or bakery, add it to a basket filled with a few of your family’s favorite store-bought treats. This one-pint basket is small but can be painted by your child and hold a few chocolate candy bars. Add cellophane and ribbon (plus a trip to the grocery store) and you’re all set.
Combining a gift card and a book donation can also be a fun and creative way to gift something for both the classroom and teacher.
For instance, Magic Ramen, a picture book biography about the inventor of instant ramen, or Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat can be paired with a gift certificate to a local restaurant, a food delivery service, a grocery store, or another purveyor of food.
Another idea: Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, all beautiful picture books about artists, can be matched with a gift card to an arts and crafts store.
Of course, if you want to eschew the gift card completely, how about something a little nerdy, like this dinosaur necklace for a preschool teacher?
Or this cheesy science keychain? It reads, “I may be N-Er-Dy, but only periodically.”
Or these banned books socks? The titles include The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Handmaid’s Tale.
And this felt letter board can be a fun addition to a classroom, and a way for the teacher to share an inspirational message or announcement.