Gift Guide: Teacher Gifts

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I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you have children who are school-age, then the clock is ticking for you to get those Teacher Gifts bought and wrapped. For many of us, there are more than just teachers on that shopping list – ECE’s, EA’s, therapists, bus drivers, etc. Some of you will have standard go-to gifts that you give year after year, some of you will be new to this type of thing, and the rest may be somewhere in the middle. Instead of giving the teacher a box of chocolates or yet another Christmas mug/ornament that has either an apple or a #1 teacher scrawled on it (there’s a reason there are so many of these in thrift shops), we offer these suggestions:

NOTHING

Remember that a gift is not expected. Not all children give their teachers gifts, no matter what Pinterest tells you. If this is going to cause you stress, step back and relax. Your child isn’t going to get a lump of coal from the teacher if you don’t send a gift to school. It’s appreciated, for sure, but not required.

A CARD

Teachers unanimously say that a personalized card is always a treasured gift. Have your child make the card if they enjoy that sort of thing. Spend a few minutes to write a few lines about how much you appreciate the teacher and the work they do with your child and you are all set.

A DONATION IN LIEU OF A GIFT

My one child has seen a number of therapists over the years and while we love to recognize their amazing work and how much we appreciate them over the holiday season, they aren’t allowed to accept gifts. As an alternative to giving them something tangible, we have always chosen to give a donation somewhere in their name. For some ideas, see our Gift Guide on donations. This is also a great option for group gifts – daycare, preschool or kindergarten classrooms with multiple teachers/ECE’s, school staff that you want to recognize (that secretarial team that makes the school amazing, for example). Note that at this late date, many places will not be able to mail you a card before school is out, so opt for a print out or email version.

BOOKS

Many teachers stock their classroom with their own books. Donate a book or two to your child’s classroom or teacher’s book shelf. Have your child pick their favourite story from home or something new by their favourite author.

GIFT CARDS

A common default is going to be the Tim’s card, but find out if they prefer Starbuck’s instead or if they are that rare breed that doesn’t like coffee or tea at all. Show your child a cup from either place and ask them if they’ve seen it in their teacher’s hand. Chances are they can identify which their teacher prefers. Indigo cards are also a great idea for restocking/updating the classrooms book shelves or letting them pick a holiday read. LCBO is also a popular choice, though you might want to make sure that this will be a welcome gift. A favourite lunch place, somewhere they can buy school supplies or any other place you’ve heard them mention are some other ideas.

GROUP GIFTS

You’ll have to act now, but all it takes is one parent slipping a letter into each child’s backpack. Invite interested parents to send $5 or $10 per teacher to school in an envelope addressed to your child. Collect the cash, buy a larger gift, sign the card from all the kids whose parents donated money. I guarantee a lot of the parents who receive that letter will happily let you do the shopping on their behalf. Get a gift card for a spa, a nice restaurant or anywhere else where your teacher might want to spend a bit more money over the holidays.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Does your child constantly run out of pencil crayons and glue? Odds are good that his/her teacher does as well. Stock them up with markers, erasers, pencils, glue sticks, and whatever else they might need. For bonus points – buy them a pack of personalized labels (just check the shipping dates to make sure they’ll get here on time!).

 

Just to reiterate – gifts are appreciated, but not mandatory. Really. And while teachers will be appreciative of whatever you do give them, first ask yourself whether they would want 20 of whatever you plan on giving them. Twenty notes of appreciation? Yes. Twenty Christmas-scented candles? A bit overpowering. Twenty bedazzled photo frames? Eek.

 

 

Gift Guide: Gift Cards

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At Christmas time, people become very divided on the issue of gift cards. One group of people love them for their quickness and ease of purchase. Those same people probably love to receive them as well and shop happily for themselves, selecting the exact item that they want. The other group of people see it as completely impersonal, the lack of thought required defeating the purpose of giving a gift.

Though there is some validity to both sides of the argument, gift cards do provide a great option for families who would like to cut back on the amount of tangible ‘stuff’ that is given and received at Christmas. Toys can be overwhelming. Gift cards can be more than an ‘easy out’, they can also be an invitation to share in an experience at a later date. Here are some of our suggestions:

Coffee Shop

A Tim’s GC is a quick and easy way to say thank you to an adult, but for a child this can be a much bigger adventure. Something as simple as a $5 card allows for two outings for a spontaneous treat. Hot chocolate and a donut? You’ll have to look hard for a kid who wouldn’t want that, from toddler to teenager. A coffee date with your kid is a great opportunity for a little one-on-one time, allowing them to pay makes them feel grown up and special. Tuck one of these in their stocking and schedule an hour over the Christmas holidays where the two of you can get a cup of cheer. Maybe they’ll even splurge on your coffee.

Book Store

Children love hanging out at the library, which is why many book stores have adopted a similar ‘hands on’ philosophy in the kids section. Touch. Read. Look. Play. And Mom, break out that wallet and pay. Or not! A book store is another one of my favourite places to let my children take time and explore. New authors, new stories, new doors opening to their imagination. I have a hard time saying no to a new book, so a GC is a win-win for all of us. A kid in a candy store has nothing on one of my kids in a book store, and allowing them to make their own choices is a great way to encourage that love of reading.

iTunes

If you have any sort of iPad/iPod/iPhone then you probably already know the value of an iTunes GC. While it is easy to stick to those free kids apps, sometimes it is nice to be able to drop a little money on the ones you have to pay for. Music is also a great iTunes purchase or a couple of episodes of their favourite cartoon for those long car rides or endless waiting room waits. Give them the GC as a gift or use it yourself and wrap a bow around the iPod as a hint of where to find their gift.  Continue reading

Gift Guide: Charities and Donations

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In honour of Giving Tuesday, we are starting our 2014 Gift Guide with a few options for gifts that support some of the top causes both local and globally. If you want to give a gift that will start a ripple effect, this is the list for you. Charity gifts are a fantastic way to recognize people who are hard to shop for or for professionals who are unable to accept tangible gifts or for people who just don’t want anything. Please note that since many of these gifts are online, you will need to purchase/donate sooner than later in order to have it all come together by Christmas.

Unicef Canada: Survival Gifts

Choose from over 60 Survival Gifts from Unicef that help children in need around the world. Gifts begin at just $9 for two bed nets to prevent malaria and hit every price point up from there with food, vaccinations, educational supplies, toys, medicine, safe water supplies, and many more. Recipients can either receive a paper card or a personalized card for the gift in their honour.

Plan Canada: Gifts of Hope

Similar to the above, Plan Canada has gifts that help children around the world. Their gifts begin at $10 and go up from there, including gifts such as fruit trees for $15, stacks of books for $60, and a baby buffalo for $250. With Plan Canada you also get the option of mailing a card or emailing a card to the recipient for the gift purchased in their name.

World Wildlife Foundation: Wildlife Adoption

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