Gifts during the holidays are tricky, especially if you are on a budget. Yet, we inevitably try to please everyone and everyone includes your children's teachers (co-workers, the mailman, etc.). You, as the giver, want to say an extra special thanks for all that the teacher does during the school year with your child. Or, if it happens to be the school bus driver, the baby-sitter, your secretary or co-workers, it's always nice to give a "Thanks for doing a great job" or simply, "Have a safe and Happy Holiday!" gift that displays this gesture but is not over the top or inappropriate.
I thought of this post after talking with my sister, a middle-school teacher herself, about the types of gifts she gets from her students at Christmastime. Do not misunderstand - teachers love getting gifts and the gesture is welcomed and appreciated! Sometimes, though, there are items that provoke a few laughs or a quizzical look/thought.
Chocolate - This is a universal theme enjoyed by everyone. During the holidays there are always many boxes of chocolates and treats floating around and although a few are a sweet indulgence, too many are a stomach ache. My sister once received 15 boxes of chocolates from the kids in her class and so the rest of our family got, you guessed it, boxes of chocolate on Christmas morning! If you would like to give chocolate, pick 3 or four handmade truffles and package them in an ornamental box or create an assortment of single serving gourmet hot chocolates. Small gestures with big taste!
Candles - Candles are pretty and very seasonal with all of the cozy nights people spend relaxing with family. If you have found a wonderful, eco-friendly and naturally scented column candle that is in a neutral color and could go with almost any decor (or something along those lines), please give. But be careful when you are tempted to buy candles in bulk or candles with very strong scents or colors or in odd shapes and figures. If you would not use it as a center piece at a family dinner or as part of your seasonal decor, then chances are the teacher would not either ;)
Christmas themed decorations/goodies - In general this seems like a good idea, because it's the Holiday Season! But, as a caution, if you wouldn't use the Rudolph the Reindeer themed napkins or the Disney Christmas tree ornament, it's likely your child's teacher might just pack it away, or give it to their Great Aunt Mabel.
Wine and Spirits - My sister thinks getting a bottle of wine or a little assortment of liquors is wonderful. She says that after long days with the kids, and sometimes long nights with parents at Parent-Teacher interviews, she NEEDS a glass or two. You do not have to choose an expensive bottle of wine to make a generous gesture and many stores do carry half bottles that are also good gifts for those on a budget. Also, attaching a recipe for Mulled Wine or Hot Buttered Rum to the bottle you are giving adds a personal and seasonal touch.
Other ideas - Homemade cookies (made by the children themselves so Mom gets a little break), muffins, granola, goodie bags of old fashioned Holiday candies, or even gift certificates for a spa service, a favorite music or movie store or a gourmet food shop.
If these ideas don't work for you, remember, there's nothing wrong with giving an elegant card with a heartfelt Holiday greeting and your child's signature.
Happy Holiday Gift Giving!