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Today's Family Magazine

End-of-the-year gifts teachers REALLY want

By Kerrie McLoughlin
You want to show appreciation for your child’s teacher but are most likely short on time and maybe even on money. I polled teachers across the country to find out what gifts they are loving this year and which ones they would happily take a pass on.  The answers might surprise you.
Must-have gifts:
Pampering sets to do at-home facials, spa products like those carried by the direct sales company Perfectly Posh.  Posh has unique gifts like roll-up sticks for the skin that help with things like headaches and fatigue, perfect for the classroom!

Gift cards for local and chain restaurants because a teacher’s gotta eat!

Gift cards for teacher supply stores so the teacher can restock the supply for the classroom with items such as tacks, books, markers, pens, calendars and other fun items that might not be provided by the school.

Gift cards for general places like Target or Wal-Mart where they can get things for themselves or for the classroom.

Homemade gifts from the kids like cards and pictures because those are extra special.
Notes of appreciation that come from the heart.  Courtney Ludwig-Shay shared, “I have kept every drawing or art project a kid has ever gifted me from teaching preschool back in the day.”

Chocolate and coffee products! Consider putting together a basket of special chocolate bars, hot chocolates, fancy coffees and creamers and other treats.
Get to know them and find out what they like
Melinda Cerra, mom of four, says, “Our school's room parent coordinator (which was me for a while) has teachers fill out a questionnaire telling us their favorite food, restaurants, stores, colors, drinks, scents, classroom needs, etc. every year.  Very helpful.  Also has the teacher's birthday.  My daughter Lily's 4th grade teacher was a total health nut and didn't like most of the stuff that lots of the other teachers liked.  I liked buying for her.”

“My mom's in a remote area and so the gift cards she can use online are a good thing too.  She loves Gilmore Girls and someone got her a Luke's Diner coffee mug!” shared Nicole Schmuecker Hosier.

Stephen Schmidt, a longtime middle school teacher, says, “Gift cards get used.  I have over 1,000 ties and almost as many coffee cups. Coffee, whiteboard markers, sharpies, Grateful Dead memorabilia are all on my short list.”

Sarah Ross, 8th grade language arts teacher, says, “I love getting handwritten notes/cards from students!  I put them in a special place and re-read them days, months, and years later.  You cannot do that with a gift card!  I truly appreciate any gifts from my students (they warm my heart!), but I have to say I do not want food/candy.”
Gifts to skip
Anything homemade.  It may be easy for you to whip up a batch of cookies or give your famous banana bread, but the teacher may be watching his or her sugar, gluten, calories or worse … might be allergic!

Lotions … everyone is different and it’s very hard to pick out a scent that every teacher will love.  Some hate fruit or food scents while others love them.  Some are bothered by the smells entirely.

Candles and mugs.  Same as with lotions and scents.  And a teacher can only burn and store so many candles every year.  Where to store so many mugs?  And how to rotate and use them all so every kid gift-giver feels special?  Erin Hammons, preschool teacher, says, “No more candles or mugs.  Yes, they are quick and easy to buy but everyone's tastes are very different.  Get to know each teacher personally if possible. Gift cards aren't as personable but they are easier and still just as much appreciated.  Maybe a little candy too!”

Ties.  This may seem like a slam dunk for a male teacher but they likely already have quite a few.  Delve a little deeper into his personality to find out what else he might like: fishing lures, golf or tennis balls, something fun for camping, a special book, maybe even an iTunes gift card.

Anything with an apple on it and random knickknacks!  It seems everyone these days is trying to downsize and declutter, so why add to your teacher’s overflow of stuff?

The bottom line seems to be that it’s entirely worth it to take some time to get to know your child’s teacher’s likes and dislikes.  Then pick a gift with your child accordingly, and you’re sure to give the teacher a happy summer break!

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