Thanks to Eirene, the lovely GIT mom, for taking over my blog for today so I can spend some time enjoying the holiday season with my little guys. She is a wonderful resource for moms like me who tend to get stressed and overwhelmed during the holiday season, and today she is sharing her ideas on how to make one of my holiday to-do’s a little bit easier. Read on to see what about what teachers really want for Christmas (and as a teacher in Chicagoland for almost ten years, I can tell you that her list is totally and utterly spot on).
I do not want to waste your time moms, because, let’s face it: we are the ones normally honored with the gift buying duty. And, why is that? Why, why, why? That’s a topic for the sociologists, I suppose – and if we have some gentlemen reading this, too, welcome! Join us in the holiday gift buying frenzy! I want everybody to BUCKLE UP ‘cause it’s one crazy ride. But, I promise it doesn’t have to be if you follow this simple gift buying guide for your kids’ teachers.
I don’t want to start out negatively by telling you what teachers absolutely do not want, but I feel I must. Are you ready? Teachers literally cringe upon opening the following items and talk behind your backs, so don’t be that loser mom.
Stop fooling yourself that your child’s teacher can’t live without your fruitcake or other baked goods. I am just being honest. Save yourself tons of time slaving over your hot oven.
They also don’t want any more:
• Holiday-themed candy
• Anything “apple” related
WHAT IS THE #1 GIFT TEACHERS DO WANT?
Cold, hard cash. Don’t you like cash? Don’t you love when you find surprise cash in your coat pocket? Do you think teachers are different from us? They aren’t! When I polled teachers to find out what they really want for the holidays their #1 answer was cash. Like US Magazine says, they really are just like us.
At my kids’ school, parent representatives from each class will collect up to $50 per child from families who are interested in contributing to the staff gift fund. Contributions are completely voluntary and no record of donations is made available. Cash is collected in two ways: a direct handoff to the parent rep’s child in an envelope or by an electronic payment service like HipChip. HipChip was formed several years ago to help groups collect money. To contribute electronically, you simply click on a link where you can choose your donation amount and easily and quickly make your contribution to the gift fund. At our school each class has a point person that sends reminders about where and when to send the cash. If you feel you can take on one more task this holiday season volunteer to be the point person because then you’ll get to control gifting something fab instead of a glittery holiday sweater.
Many schools have a no cash policy, so if that’s yours the next best option is gift cards. Every single teacher I spoke with lit up when they said gift cards. Again, let me repeat myself: Don’t you love gift cards, too? Trust me, your child’s teacher is a regular human being with the exception of having the patience of a saint and dealing with/teaching your child lovingly seven hours a day. Your teacher will feel warm and fuzzy if she opens up your holiday gift and sees a gift card because she can use it for things she really does want versus chucking a banana loaf in the garbage.
The top stores teachers want gift cards from are Target, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Do not overthink this gift choice… after cash, of course. Buy them and your holiday shopping to-do list is DONE!
And, let’s be clear: even a $5 gift card is appreciated and not considered being cheap. Teachers understand times are tough. Gift cards are so easy to purchase from grocery stores, Walgreens and online. Check out cardpool, a website that sells gift cards at a discount.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express buyers beware! You may think you’re making it easy on your teacher by giving a general purpose gift card when in reality you will be paying even more because they add a purchase fee of $3 to $7 to your cost. This is definitely not cool.
The next great idea is to go the more personal route and give them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or for a service like a manicure.
LOCAL GIFT CERTIFICATES
Purchasing gift certificates from local businesses is a wonderful idea that helps support your community! Here is why to buy locally owned:
1. It’s fun! You are immediately bringing joy to the business owner and impacting her business and her family’s pocket instead of a super rich faceless CEO running Target or Wal-mart.
2. You’ll strengthen your community. Local businesses are owned by people who live in your town, go to your church or synagogue, donate to local animal shelters, and coach your Little League teams. When you spend money in their stores and cafes, you support your neighbors.
3. Shopping at small businesses keeps money in your community to help finance schools. Hello, that’s what we are talking about here… as well as police and fire departments.
4. You’ll create jobs. Local businesses create local jobs. Often, these are jobs that pay better than those at chain stores.
5. When you shop small, the bulk of the money you spend and most of your taxes stay local. For every $100 you spend in a local small business, $68 stays in your community, versus $43 when you purchase from a chain store. And, no money from online purchases stays local.
6. You’ll get amazing toys. Walk into a toy superstore, and you’ll find aisles of pink and blue plastic that’ll end up at Goodwill by spring. At an independent toy store, you’ll find toys that will spark kids’ imaginations, help them learn, and be a lot of fun. A Chicago favorite is Building Blocks Toy Store.
7. You get money back. If you’re an American Express cardholder, register your card in advance. Then shop in one of the many listed independent stores and restaurants on the American Express “Shop Small” map — and get up to three $10 statement credits. Register at ShopSmall.
SPOTLIGHT ON LOCAL CHICAGO BUSINESSES
Get together with your mom friends and pool your money for a larger gift certificate to a spa for a day of pampering because who doesn’t want that?
A perceptive and empathetic massage professional with an intuitive understanding of her clients’ needs, Gayle offers sessions that are both healing and transformative. The cozy private office is on the Northside located in West Lakeview. Parking is available. Brown line stop across the street. Evening and weekend hours. We love teachers!
For $10 off mention TEACHERGIFT. Regularly $95 for one hour and $135 for 90 min.
Fight the negative effects of stress naturally with CranioSacral therapy or an Energy Healing at NowStudio. A beautiful studio, located in Logan Square. Intuitive and Astrology Readings can help you learn to be your best self and let go of the negative stuff that holds you back. Help your teacher relax, refocus and have more clarity to feel and function better.
This modern urban salon and spa is rooted in the European tradition. Features a full range of essential and luxury services in a relaxing, elegant salon atmosphere above Chicago’s famed Oak Street. Offers no-chip manicures, purifying skin care by European-trained estheticians, healing body treatments and a pampering package that will leave your child’s teacher glowing. Your recipient will sink into a comfortable chair with a magazine, plus a hot tea, coffee or champagne. “Cold” and “sterile” are words not in their vocabulary. Clients notice, as do first-time visitors. At STĪL Salon and Spa, regulars and new visitors are a priority.
Enjoy 30% off any skin or nail care services when you mention GIT Mom. Call (312) 487 2812 for an appointment, details or possible restrictions.
For the Kids
Give the gift of Family Playtime or a few hours of supervised play in their playroom. Gift cards available in any amount up to $200. This is a great option for professional development days, vacation days, etc. where the teacher parent needs to make other arrangements for their own children. Located in Lincoln Park. Call 773-661-9944.
Purchase a gift certificate to shop her website of artist designed clothing and art prints.
Or, buy your teacher a piece of custom home décor like a painting of the Chicago Flag on reclaimed on wood, $60.
Give the gift of delish-o-ness! Gift certificates are available in $10 increments or give the gift of an experience ($26-$40 for classes in cupcake-, cookie-, or cake-making).
Two locations: UIC and Lincoln Square. Call 312-852-4441
Sweet Buddha will custom make your holiday baskets and the gift cards can be attached to them in one knock-out presentation. They are a great gift all on their own, but feel free to attach a gift card of your liking to them. Baskets start at $35. Name your price and they will do the rest!
When giving gift cards, you can also add some flair with these fun ideas (or scour Pinterest for more):
- Wrap a bow around a liter of soda and attach a note that says, “Pop quiz: who is the best teacher? You are, I’m so lucky to have you!” Attach a movie theater gift card.
- For male teachers, wrap up a shammy, car wash soap and a gas gift certificate.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER
Whatever you decide to give make sure to include a note expressing your gratitude for their hard work this year. Know whatever you buy, your child’s teacher will love it because they love your child.
Eirene Heidelberger is a Chicago-based parent coach and a mom to three boys. Her business, GIT Mom, is dedicated to helping parents Get It Together so they have more time for the activities they most enjoy. When Moms have the right tools to create family balance, they have the freedom to create happy mommy time for themselves. Happy confident moms raise happy confident kids! Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about how she empowers moms.
Need more gift ideas? Here are my suggestions for absolutely everyone on your “nice” list.