I've tried a few different ideas for Christmas gifts for teachers over the past few years. I have several good friends who are teachers so I polled some of them for ideas of what not to get. No mugs (obvious), no homemade gifts by kids (sounds harsh, I know, but the teachers don't know what to do with them afterwards and feel bad throwing them away), no wine (in case they don't drink). With all that in mind, I've normally stuck with something small from Ten Thousand Villages and then baked them some goodies based on what I already know they like. This usually seems popular. This year however, Emily's teacher announced right off the bat in September that she LOVES chocolate brownies and I've already heard that many of her students' families are giving her brownies. So, while I am willing to put myself out there and say that it's possible that I make the best brownies EVER, I'm not going to make Mrs. B any brownies.
So, what to do? I started with getting each teacher a can of Ten Thousand Villages Milk Hot Chocolate (super yum). And I was thinking of taking the easy way out with a Chapters gift card but then I got a small catalogue in the mail from Unicef. It's entitled Unicef Survival Gifts 2011/21 Gift Guide. You can view the catalogue online here .
The first page of the catalogue reads: "Give gifts from our carefully chosen Survival selection, and give children what they need most to survive and to thrive." The next page of the catalogue has a detailed map of where the Unicef Survival gifts will go (some to Central America but most to Africa). The gifts are divided into sections: Health, Education, Water, Food, Emergency and Play.
I was intrigued but assumed that, like most Living Gift programs, none would be priced at what I budgeted for teacher gifts (around $20 per teacher). I was wrong.
You can buy pencils for a school for $20 (that is 1,000 pencils), water purification tablets for $20, a Plumpy'Nut packet (peanut-based food for a child) for $10, therapeutic milk for $25, a writing and sketching pack for $10, and storybooks for $23.
I chose the pencils for schools for one teacher and the storybooks for another. There are also lots of gifts in the $30 range as well. I particularly like the Art-in-a-Box for $30 and the Literacy Pack for $30. I will be mailed a card for each teacher that will inform the teachers that these particular gifts have been bought in their name.
I think they'll appreciate these gifts a lot and I know there are children in Africa who will appreciate them even more. It feels good to do something like this and to know that I'm not adding to a pile of gifts that aren't really needed. I think it also sends a great message to my kids about eschewing consumerism and using your money where it is really needed and that giving a gift doesn't have to be about buying something tangible. It can be about finding a different yet meaningful way to express your appreciation for someone that also helps someone in dire need in the process. I hope that they see how well this represents the meaning of Christmas when they present their gifts to their teachers.
I can see this becoming a yearly tradition for teacher gifts for our family.
What do you normally do for teacher gifts? If you're a teacher, what do you love to get? Or dread?