Schooling this year… phew! Where do we even begin?! While the climate, setting, and atmosphere has looked different from week-to-week, one thing has remained consistent: Teachers are remarkable educators who have given their everything to create the best learning experience they possibly can for their students.
As a teacher myself, I can confidently say that teachers never expect holiday gifts from their students. But I also know that a lot of families like to acknowledge educators with something before the winter break.
In 2020, the list of what we might get our teachers looks a little different. We aren’t able to see all of our teachers face-to-face, which can make it complicated to give cards or gifts. Before purchasing anything, be sure to check in with your child’s teacher. Are they comfortable with sharing their address so you can mail them a gift at home? Do they have access to their school and classroom during virtual learning? If so, is the building allowing families to mail or drop off gifts at the school?
If these options feel complicated, consider gifts you can send through an email instead.
So what do teachers want? I can help with that!
For the Classroom:
- I have a rubber stamp that says, “Mrs. Gilbert was here!” It’s one of my favorite things to reach for and randomly plunk down on student work. It can be a fun and personalized gift, and ones like it can be ordered through places like Etsy or Shutterfly.
- Laminating passes, signs, forms, documents, or literally anything else I can get my hands on is so satisfying. I bet the teacher in your life would appreciate a small laminator and laminating sheets for their own classroom so they can cover everything in plastic.
- Give your favorite teacher the gift of more time. As many schools are moving to 100% virtual learning, teachers have been putting in lots of extra hours to recreate lessons that can fit with an online platform. Teachers Pay Teachers is a website where teachers can sell and purchase lessons and units to other teachers. I have happily spent a good chunk of money this year to save me the time of reformatting and re-imagining many different assignments. Get your favorite teacher a TpT gift card sent straight to their email and make them so, so happy.
- I love having magazines in my classroom. While 2020 might be a year where it’s hard for teachers to share magazines with students, they are a great resource for articles and model texts to share with students. Magazines like Zoobooks Magazine, National Geographic Kids, or Cricket are great for elementary school, and National Geographic, Wired, or The New Yorker make good resources for upper grade levels.
- If you’re the type of person who likes to take charge, a class memory book can be a stunning and thoughtful gift. Collect pictures and memories from all the students in your child’s class, and put them together in a memory book using an online photo platform like Shutterfly or support local with Out of the Clouds.
- Chocolate! Teachers get so much chocolate as gifts, and for good reason. Chocolate is never a bad idea. If you want to get fancy, buy from a local chocolate shop like Rocky Mountain Chocolate, Duluth Candy Co. or L’Apothicaire.
- Food box subscription boxes like Hello, Fresh help your child’s teacher think less about shopping and cooking. Or give them the gift of delicious baked goods, and buy them a local taster’s box subscription from Duluth Best Bread.
- Support teachers and local restaurants in one fell swoop. Purchase gift cards to area eateries. Most have transitioned to curbside pickup or delivery and many local favorites, like Pizza Luce and Duluth Grill, offer gift card deals so you can purchase several cards and get an extra amount free (and then treat yourself to a non-cooking night!).
Practical but Indulgent:
- I’m the kind of teacher who will put a fan on my face and a space heater on my feet. Now that I’m working from home, I can do what I want without the judgement of teenagers. Your child’s teacher might be just like me. Help them stay cozy and/or cool with a small space heater or fan.
- Teachers love fancy supplies! Stationery, pencils, flair pens, or a pack of lovely blank cards from Hucklebeary makes for an indulgent and personal gift.
- Teachers are stressed out. Help them unwind at home with a spa gift basket: put together socks, bath bomb, face mask, and scalp massager in a cute bag. Or make it easy on yourself and order a pre-made gift basket from a local company like Sweet Land Farm or White Spruce Market.
- It’s 2020: The year of the face mask. If your child is still in school physically, cloth masks and anti-bacterial hand sanitizer are a lovely gift to show teachers that you are thinking about them and want to keep them safe and healthy. Locally-made cloth masks can be found at Dock5 (Available at DLH Clothing)and AdventureUs.
Outside the Box:
- For the teacher who loves the outdoors, (not me, but I know many!), help them get out there! A Minnesota State Park Pass lets them get out into the great outdoors, and a gift card to Trailfitters or Frost River will ensure they’re properly supplied for adventure.
- Everyone loves fresh flowers and plants. Although I’ve managed to kill over half of the potted plants in my possession, I like the challenge. A delivery of flowers or a plant from Flora North would be a nice gesture. Or if you want to be more festive, and also give them something they probably can’t kill, consider a holiday wreath from Duluth Flower Farm.
- Help your child’s teacher think about something other than teaching for a while. Help them to hone a skill or discover a new hobby with gift certificates or subscriptions to things like Skillshare, Masterclass, or local places like Duluth Folk School and Yarn Harbor.
From the Heart:
If you ask any teacher about the gifts they treasure the most, and they’ll probably tell you about the ones that cost the least. Personal notes, letters, or cards from you and your child are things that most teachers hold onto for a very long time. I have a box in one of my desk drawers at school full to the brim of every letter, note, and card I’ve been given. When I’m feeling low or have a particularly hard day, I spend a few minutes going through some of them. I still have letters from kids I taught 12 years ago. Teachers don’t need stuff, but we do like to be appreciated.
What to Avoid?
Teachers have enough coffee mugs and teacher ornaments, and although some teachers might disagree, I would avoid alcohol. Many people don’t drink, so unless you know the teacher very well, I’d avoid it. It’s also smart to avoid homemade food stuffs, especially this year. With that said, please don’t think we’re unappreciative of every single time someone thinks of us! If the only 5 spare minutes you have in a day is spent running into Walgreens and your little one finds a “You’re the Best Teacher” coffee mug that they absolutely must get, the teacher will be overjoyed.
Let me say this one more time: teachers aren’t into teaching for the gifts. We are in it to make connections with other humans. We are in teaching to watch our students learn, explore, and grow. As a high school teacher, I get very few gifts but the best gift I get every year? My students. (Okay, and maybe the chocolate!)