to sir with love.

11 12 2009

riddle me this: we trust our teachers with the education and well-being of our children for the majority of their day, every day. we know that educators are hugely influential in the growth and development of our children. we know that teachers are undercompensated and overworked. we know that education is a labor of love, and that a really amazing teacher can positively change our children’s lives… in short, teachers are totally awesome- so why do we think that a $5 tchotchke  from the christmas tree shop is an appropriate way to show our thanks?

i don’t actually have any kids, but i do have a number of friends who are teachers, and i’ve seen some pretty amazingly awful things get toted home dutifully in brightly colored gift bags. seriously people, COOL IT WITH THE APPLE STUFF! (or anything that says #1 teacher or has a school bus on it for that matter).

i found this incredible article, where 2500 teachers were polled about what makes a good teacher gift, and i was a little surprising.  here is what i learned:

1. the best gifts are personal, it doesn’t even have to cost money. teachers aren’t expecting fancy swag, but they do like to know that they are recognized and appreciated. a home made card and heartfelt sentiment from you and/or your child (preferably both) will win hands down over a bargain bin sno-globe any day. however, if you can wrap your sentiment around a nice gift… well then, all the better.

2. gift cards/certificates! chances are you don’t know where your teacher likes to shop, or what he/she does on her free time- so generic bank gift cards, target, starbucks, or mall gift cards are pretty safe. a gift certificate to a  local day spa or nice local restaurant* is also appropriate. *NOTE* this does not mean APPLEBEES, it means locally owned, a little on the upscale side, and with incredible food (my beloved caiola’s would be a perfect choice). also, the amount should be enough for a full meal. for gift cards in general, if you can’t afford to give a reasonable amount- then don’t go this route. just stick with the nice card option as detailed above.

3. stuff! so you want to give a concrete “little something”, that’s fine. just stay away from the apple/teacher oriented garbage (because that is where it will inevitably wind up), and try to get something that is attractive, useful, and of good quality. a few ideas that won’t descimate your budget:

a really nice (and possibly eco-friendly) travel mug.

– an adorable novelty flash drive.

– a set of beautiful stationery or blank cards (i’m talking letter-press here not hallmark gold crown).

– a nice and sturdy reusable bag (teachers always have so much to carry!).

– or, take up a collection with the other parents, and buy one big ticket item like tickets to a pro sports game, a really kick-ass gift card, or something specifically tailored to suit your favorite teacher.

not earth shatteringly innovative,  but definitely less likely to wind up at the goodwill.

5. pitfalls! along with not buying crap, there are a couple other things to avoid in the world of classy teacher gift giving:

a gift for the classroom is not a gift for the teacher. if you want to gift the classroom with something nice, then do that separately. give the teacher something for him/her. you wouldn’t give your housekeeper windex as a holiday gift (or would you!?).

food is a slippery slope. anything low-fat, low-cal, or diet seems insulting. anything high fat or decadent is just unhealthy (and probably compounded by saturated fat laden food gifts from at least 10 other parents). aim for something in the middle. i think they’re tacky as hell, but those edible arrangements seem popular, or maybe some gorgeous foil wrapped fruit from harry & david? or if you must give sweets, let them be the best sweets available. unless they’re diabetic or allergic to chocolate, godiva is usually a no-fail situation.

at the end of the day, teacher gifts are optional, not required. if you can’t muster up anything genuinely nice or thoughtful to say to/give to your child’s teacher (let’s face it, they’re not all gems), then skip it entirely. chances are, they won’t even notice.

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8 responses

11 12 2009
k

Thank you so much for this! Now, if you don’t mind, could you please forward it to the parents of all my students? LOL

12 12 2009
bessmarvin

i wish i could! maybe send an anonymous mass email to all the parents in your class? a friend of mine has this great trick for whenever she knows she’s going to get bad presents- she brings two bags, one for stuff she wants to keep, and one for stuff she doesn’t. she drops the toss bag off at the goodwill on her way home, and the stuff never has to come inside her condo. genius!

11 12 2009
Julie

*groan* Crapplebees.
Pooling for sporting event tix is a really great idea! I love the Sea Bags you linked to, too.

A bunch of my friends are teachers.. I’ll have to poll them this year and see what atrocities they receive.

12 12 2009
bessmarvin

sea bags is one of my favorite local companies! they’re pricey, but beautiful and they do take a beating quite well. i have a big one that has been hauling everything from groceries to xmas presents for years. and as for crapplebees… i swear to god that restaurant exists solely to pick up the overflow from when people don’t want to wait in line at better restaurants. don’t even get me started on them choosing wanda sykes as their spokesperson…

12 12 2009
Julie

What what what!! I love Wanda! Why is she rabble-rousing for this riff raff?!

You are so right. I’m imagining the board meetings where they use Google Earth to plot the perfect placement of their parking lot turn-ins to herd people in from the marginally better Outback Steakhouse next door. The presentations probably look like those Family Circuses where baby PJ goes on a tear through the neighborhood.

I may spring for a Sea Bags coaster set. They totally won’t go with my decor, but I’m a geek for nautical stuff.

12 12 2009
Cindy

Just wanted to tell you I stumbled across your blog while surfing for coupon related blogs, and you are now on the top of my bookmarks. I love your wicked pissah sense of humor! My only beef is that you don’t post more often (but I totally get why not…)
Thanks for putting yourself out there.

12 12 2009
bessmarvin

wow! thanks! it’s always awesome to hear that somebody thinks i’m funny (other than me- because i do wonder sometimes…). it is my new year’s resolution to post more often, so hopefully i’ll have more content for you in the very near future. both of the coupon/deal and ridiculous rant variety i’m sure.

22 12 2009
a very local last minute xmas. « broke 207

[…] a hot date! remember that time i told you to F the applebees gift card? well, i’m telling you again. and again. and i’m telling you to go to your favorite […]

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