I happen to know a lot of teachers. I'm not sure why this is, but pretty well every second person I know is a teacher. My brother is a teacher, his wife is a teacher, half my friends are teachers and actually, I'm a teacher (at least for 4 hours a week.) So when it comes to teacher's gifts, I should have lots of experience.
At the school my kids go to, it is customary to give a cash donation for each teacher to be added together as a group gift from the class. Usually, it's a gift certificate to the local mall. I'm not a huge fan of this custom. I can see the attraction of a large gift certificate, but really it takes away from any sort of personal, meaningful gift. Also, I am pretty sure that most teachers spend the gift certificate on groceries and not on something special for themselves, like it was intended. I don't usually take part in the group gift and try to find something small, but significant, that we can give. It feels a little weird to do this when everyone else is going in on a gift together, and the final amount of the gift certificate always reflects the one parent (me) that didn't go along with the group plan. So there have been many years where (out of guilt) I give to the group gift and then give another smaller gift in addition. Ah...the complexities of gifts for preschool teachers...This year I am firmly refusing to take part in the group gift!
I have watched in admiration at the gifts my sister-in-law gives to my niece and nephew's preschool teachers. Of course, they all come from Giving Gifts! As a teacher herself, she knows what gifts other teachers would appreciate and surprisingly they aren't often the same ones that I would have thought. This year she is giving 7 gifts - one to each of her kids preschool teachers and each gift is a puppet and book for them to use in the classroom.
She matched up the puppets and books perfectly, so that the teachers can use the puppets to tell the stories in the books. I would have always assumed that teachers wanted a gift they could use themselves away from school, but she swears that they will love a gift they can use over and over again in the class. What a perfect way to give back to the school, as future kids will benefit as well. Nancy thought that the Anamalz gift sets would make perfect gifts for preschool teachers too.
Last year, she gave all the teacher homemade cookies in Nkuku Cups. I love this idea, something for them to enjoy right away and something for them to keep forever. They can use the cups at school for drinking, or on their desk for pens or they can take them home. Nkuku cups are so beautiful, they will definitely appeal to everyone.
In the past I've given MiniSax Bags (they make great lunchbags and all teachers bring lunch to work with them). I've also given waterbottles (everyone appreciates a new waterbottle, especially teachers that spend the day talking), notebooks (everyone can use a new notebook, especially if you dedicate the inside cover and have your child sign and draw a picture) and Envirosax Bags (the perfect gift for any occasion).
I also think Cup Sleeves (teachers love coffee!), Swell Insulated Bottles (for hot coffee/tea and cold water) and Reusable Snackbags (filled with chocolate or candy or other treats, maybe your child's favourite snack) would make awesome gifts.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Would you contribute to the class gift, give a gift on your own, or do both? If you are a teacher, what great gifts have you received and/or would you love to receive this year?