Beyond the Apple: Gift Ideas For Teachers

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Beyond the Apple: Gift Ideas For Teachers
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You've seen her dedication and efforts and want to show your appreciation. But unless you know your child's teacher especially well, choosing a gift for her can be a real challenge. After all, for every teacher who adores a certain type of gift, there's another who groans inwardly at the sight of one coming her way. It's true that it's the thought that counts, but a special teacher deserves a special gift. Having some options to choose from can make finding that gift a lot easier.

No More Mugs, Please
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No More Mugs, Please

Before you start, know what to cross off your list of possibilities. Most teachers have more than enough coffee mugs and other items brandishing apples, blackboards or phrases that contain the word "Teacher." Soaps, lotions and candles are dicey; their fragrances may not be a favorite. And definitely eliminate the idea of baked goods. Apart from the possibility of diet restrictions or weight-gain concerns, some teachers aren't altogether comfortable eating foods made in unfamiliar kitchens.

Gift Cards
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Gift Cards

Gift cards are a convenient and typically favored option. Some teachers enjoy gifts they can use in their classrooms. An office or education supply store's gift card would be greatly appreciated. Other teachers, though, would prefer something they might enjoy away from work. For them, a gift card from a restaurant, shop, spa or cinema would be a win. To increase the odds of it being used, make sure the gift card is for something the teacher actually enjoys and that the spot is conveniently located.

Personalized Pottery
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Personalized Pottery

Something your child makes and personalizes can be a welcome gift. Take your child to a paint-your-own pottery place and let him paint a platter or flowerpot for his teacher -- or simply do it at home. Encourage him to decorate it with images especially for his teacher, things she favors or scenes that will bring back memories. And be sure he writes his name and class year on it.

Flower Power
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Flower Power

Another fine choice is a flower or plant. Perennials or biennials are perhaps the best, reminding the teacher of her special student for years to come. African violets or a flowering succulent are lovely in the house, while flowering bulbs, like lilies, hyacinths or tulips, will return every year when transplanted outside. Forget-me-nots send a sweet message and will typically reseed themselves year after year in a garden. What's more, you could always combine this gift with personalized pottery.

Canvas Tote
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Canvas Tote

Reusable canvas tote bags come in handy for carrying teaching supplies into the classroom or carrying groceries from the store. And this is another item that can be personalized. Have it monogrammed or get a printer to imprint it with something special. Better yet, let your child design the tote. Help him paint his own original designs and images on it; and again, be sure to include your child's name and class year.

Notepad: Customized
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Notepad: Customized

Teachers tend to write a lot of notes -- to parents, other teachers and school staff. Help her out by giving her a personalized notepad as a year-end token of gratitude. Local or online stationary and print shops typically carry a wide range of notepad styles, many with an education theme. If you're the crafty type, consider creating a special teacher's notepad with your child at home.

A Donation in Honor
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A Donation in Honor

A true teacher hopes to make a positive difference in the lives of the children she teaches. Let her know she has certainly done so for your child by making a donation in her name to a charity that funds education for children less fortunate than yours. Choose a charity that supports education globally, such as Alternative Gifts International, or domestically, like the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation or Communities in Schools. Find and verify education charities through the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator.

A Note From the Heart
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A Note From the Heart

A personal handwritten card or letter from you and your child is perhaps one of the most gracious and appreciated gifts a teacher can receive. Let her know how she's touched and changed your little one's life. If your child is old enough, have him write the note or one to include along with yours. And never imagine you're being "cheap" by giving a simple note! Most teachers will tell you the genuine, heartfelt notes of appreciation are the most valuable and treasured gifts they receive.

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