In a few days it will be Memorial Day, two words that are, of course, code for: white pants, grilling, and holy-sh*t-there’s-so-much-to-do-before-school-ends! If you’re like me, one of the things that inevitably falls through the cracks until the very last minute is teacher gift ordering. Not this year! To pre-empt the angst, I’m figuring it all out now. Or at least after I take care of the other dozen things on my falls-through-the-cracks list. (See: immunization records to camp.) Herewith, some go-to ideas (both storebought and DIY) from a star-studded panel of teachers, friends, and bloggers: Marcie Cuff of Mossy, Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo, Yolanda Edwards of Momfilter, Alana Chernila of Eating From the Ground Up, Caroline Fennessy Campion of Devil & Egg, Donna Duarte of Motherburg and one or two from yours truly. First gift up (above) from Joanna: Silk Peonies ( Terrain, $24).
Totes McGotes! Because it’s so much more exciting than the ABCs! Click on your teacher’s initial to see your options. If you’re feeling ambitious fill it with a beach read. (Alphabet Bags, $12-21. They are UK-based and ship worldwide with delivery options that seem reasonably priced, but I would order like RIGHT NOW to be safe.) –via Donna
Homemade Dulce De Leche A sugary, milky, gooey sauce that’s takes ice cream, coffee, and waffles to new levels. To make: Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler. Bring water in the bottom pan to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover the pan and continue to simmer for about an hour. (You will need to add more water to the bottom of the pan if it simmers off.) Check on the milk occasionally and stir–it should thicken and gradually change colors from milk-white to butterscotch to a light caramel color–then you know it’s done. Let the dulce cool and then place in a jar. (Chalkboard Labels: Martha Stewart for Staples.) Keeps in the fridge for 2 months. —via Caroline
Gift Cards Much as I’m sure they hold their class photo mugs near and dear to their hearts, most of the teachers canvassed for fave gifts had no problem stating their preference for Gift Cards. For a Blow-Out, a spa, a mani-pedi, the coffee shop where she gets her lattes, any place where pampering is on the menu. One teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous, said his favorite gift is credit at the local gourmet store where they sell alcohol. “Because what I really need at the end of the year is a drink.” (Above: Drybar gift card, $35 – $40; select cities only) —via Joanna and Yolanda
PB&J Candy Bars. Sharing not allowed! (Three to a pack, Sweet Lydias, $15) — via Joanna
Seed Bombs No, those are not meatballs. They’re mudballs made of compost, native seeds, and clay, and packed by human hands, then placed in a little handmade bag. “Just throw and they will grow,” as Marcie says. See her site for the how-to. (Mossy, $DIY) — via Marcie
Customized Address Stamp To make her correspondences even prettier. (Ampersandity on Etsy, $28 to $36) — via Joanna
Perpetual Calendar to offer a welcome grown-up moment on a desk cluttered with lots of un-grown-up moments. PS: The kids will get into it, too. (MOMA, $15)
Homemade Iced Tea. Include with a note about relaxing summer mornings. To make: Combine 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers, 2 tablespoons dried rose hips, 1/2 cup dried spearmint leaves in a 2-cup jar. Seal with a lid and shake. (All ingredients available in the bulk section of Whole Foods.) To make Iced Tea: Steep 3 tablespoons tea mix in 2 cups boiling water for 15 minutes. Sweeten with a bit of honey or sugar, let cool, and combine with 2 cups water. Serve over ice. — via Alana
Classroom Prints Affordable art to make the classroom…classier. (Gallery Nucleus, $25-30; above: print from Jon Klassen Print Collection) — via Alana
Dinner: A Love Story I hear the writer’s super nice and will mail personalized messages that you can stick on the inside cover if you get in touch with her before June 10. ($19)
PS: Three years ago, this is what I did for the girls’ teachers. If you are looking for labels, Brooke from inchmark took care of that.
I have seven teachers to buy for, and am stuck as usual. Nice ideas, thanks!
In Paris people go all out, I think it’s insane that teachers except watches and designer bags! And that’s the norm!
I remember buying proudly buying boxes of chocolates for my favourite teachers as a child. It’s sad that those days seem to be long gone!
xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog
I have ordered things from Alphabet bags before, and I LOVE their products and their customer service! Totally great stuff!
I love those prints. I gave tomato plants this year and they seemed to be a hit.
Nice ideas, but school gets out tomorrow here in the South.
I usually do either homemade gifts (cookies, bread, nut butter, jam) or bottles of wine.
Love the chalkboard labels. I might try to get some of those.
So crazy about you guys in the south. I always forget about your schedule! We have a full month remaining up here in the Northeast. Maybe some of these good for camp counselors?
Also try this website for beautiful personalized stationery from a Garden City, NY based designer: http://milopaper.com/giftshop/
Sent the teachers’ gifts to school with the kids today (the school year is done in Nebraska tomorrow). This year we did measuring spoons from anthropologie. I’ll have to remember these ideas for next year’s teacher gifts. Always looking for something unique – they usually get a lot of candles and body lotion! 😉
I’m a teacher. I teach in a rural community and some of my favorite gifts have been… a bouquet of flowers picked by the child, a loaf of fresh homemade bread, a potted herb plant, and homegrown produce. I do accept the brownies, cookies, and fudge gracefully, but my waistline really doesn’t need it.
These are great ideas and as a teacher, a note (or drawing) from the student is way better than a 2 pound box of See’s candy! And, while I love homemade jam (making it and eating it!), my cupboards are a bit overwhelmed still from the winter holiday supply… Coffee gift cards (or the above flowers) are like gold:-)
Jennifer & Jorena: Love hearing from teachers, thank you! If there are more of you out there, please weigh in with your vote from these dozen or so ideas and let us know if you’ve ever gotten something super crazy special that you’d like to share.
I hate to say it, but we have had zero luck with the seed bombs. ;-(
These are very lovely. However, the very best teacher gifts really are notes from your child about something they loved during the year. Second to that, we like something we can use, i.e. cash. Foodstuffs are thoughtful, but we wind up with a trashcan full at the end of the last day. Much better to give your teacher money for school supplies or other things she uses to make the classroom experience more fun and personal for your kids.
funny, my preschooler just gave her teachers your biscotti and boxes of their favortie teas for something relaxing.
Truth be told, my favorites are heartfelt notes from the kids. Also, anything they made. The creme brûlée in a mason jar does top the list though… or the *single* (delicious) zingermans chocolate with a lovely note. The dulce le leche above would make me swoon. The bags are gorgeous, but I feel a bit overwhelmed with pricy gifts. Grateful, but overwhelmed. The prints for the classroom (or great books) would be awesome, but I feel like I’d really need to know the teachers taste to buy them artwork. The bread mentioned above would be a total winner.
All great ideas. I taught because I loved teaching obviously…not for gifts. I appreciated anyone’s thoughtful gesture. But I must say that everyone usually has the same idea and after teaching many years, I have so many totes, candles, hand made gifts, etc that I just have them all stashed in a box. Truthfully I spent hundreds of dollars out of my own pocket teaching so the best gifts for me were gift cards to teacher supply stores, target, etc that I could use to enhance my classroom.
Oh God bless you! I have been a high school teacher for the last five years and the primary teachers are the ones who get all the gifts sadly. I get it, at primary school there’s only one teacher but still, us HS teachers work our butts off too!
There are so many cute ideas!
Given that many teachers are now buying classroom supplies from their own money, I’d probably give a gift card that could be used as they desire.
For some reason I just love selecting teacher gifts, so I was excited to see this post. My daughter has 3 preschool teachers, so I got them each a personalized notebook from Minted. I think they’re so pretty! Check them out:
I know it’s not creative or clever, but it’s what they really want. I always give gift cards to Target or AmEx. We often get a bunch of parents to chip in and buy a gift card for them. We all know teachers don’t really want krafty gifts that moms make. Handwritten notes or pictures from kids are a different story. But I can never get my kids to make one.
You wouldn’t believe what I saw at West Elm this weekend – a tote that quotes you exactly “totes ma goats” with goats on it! Too cute! Had to share…
I made the Dulce de Leche to give as gifts. It really is awesome. We are all just standing around the kitchen with spoons licking the pot. My husband can’t believe there is only one ingredient. I dropped some on the counter, then decided to sprinkle Maldon Sea Salt flakes on it before swiping it up with my finger.
Thank You for this!!