Although gifts certainly aren't required, the holidays offer a great opportunity to show special educators that they are appreciated. And the secret about gifts for teachers is that many teachers appreciate gifts that come from the heart more than gifts that come from the store.
Involve children in the process, let them help decide what to get the teacher and try to personalize it if possible. Here are some gift ideas that will have teachers smiling.
Personalized Ornaments: A Carroll County teacher told Patch that he loves holiday ornaments/decorations that have the student's name and year on it. He said he received many in his 30 years of teaching and each year enjoys decorating his tree with ornaments from past students. Make ornaments at The Pottery Loft or buy materials at a local craft store.
Gift Cards: Gift cards may seem generic but they are a gift that, if chosen well, could be very useful for an educator. One local retired high school teacher said a $5 gift card to Birdie's Cafe on Main Street would be a wonderful gift. Another local teacher said she loves to get gift cards for supply stores like Staples as she is constantly buying supplies for the classroom. It's really the thought that counts, so a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop or sweets shop like Starry Night Bakery or the Treat Shop would be a tasty way to show your appreciation.
Personalized Cards/Letters/Drawings: A local elementary teacher told Patch she would rather have a handwritten letter from a student than any other type of gift. According to an article on Discovery Channel's TLC.com, "many teachers with extensive collections of "World's Best Teacher" mugs would probably trade them all in for one authentic, creative reminder that a great kid thinks they're the best educator ever." This gift is virtually free and the sentiment will be priceless for a educator or support staff.
Food: You can hardly go wrong with food over the holidays. One local teacher told Patch she loved it when students would bring her baked goods because, with little time to bake herself, she would still have tasty treats for the holidays. Let the kids get involved in the cooking process so that they are truly giving a gift they helped create. Not into baking? Consider getting some local coffee at Furnace Hills Coffee Company or a selection of teas at the CUP Tea Bar and Cafe. This option can be relatively inexpensive (and messy) if baking at home, or moderately priced if buying goods at a bakery or sweets shop like Heinz Bakery on Main Street.
Bling: I don't know if this is for everyone, teachers around the county may be rolling their eyes when they read this one. My mom taught at West Middle School for more than 25 years and she became a walking decoration over the holidays (every holiday, not just Christmas). If there was a pin or earings or necklace or socks that blinked, played "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", sparkled, jingled or laughed "ho ho ho" - she had it. It matched her personality and I know she enjoyed it when students gave her these little trinkets to add to her collection. For my mom it was gaudy holiday bling, but I think the point here is to consider the individual educator and brainstorm with your child to figure out what special, unique, personalized gift would make that educator feel appreciated.
Have more ideas? Share them in the comments below. If you're an educator, tell us what your favorite (and not so favorite) gifts have been over the years.