Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Teachers and presents....

Again, I need all you mommies out there for some advice.

Yes, it's that time of year again.

I used to be kind of thrilled that I was Jewish and didn't have to go through what seemed like the biggest pain in the ass (according to my friends who celebrate Christmas) when it came to buying gifts. I didn't have to buy X-mas gifts for anyone.

I send flowers to people like certain editors/publishers I like.

But now The Dictator is is full-time school and she has a number of teachers. And I have to buy these teachers X-mas gifts.

She has two main teachers.

But The Dictator also has a music teacher, a gym teacher, a french teacher, a mandarin teacher, and an after-care teacher who sometimes takes care of her when I can't pick her up at three.

Ok, so, my question is, "What the heck do people buy teachers these days?"

First off, her main teacher is a guy. And we all know how difficult it is to buy men presents...anyway. (This is just an added problem.)

Second of all, while I know all her teacher's names, I have no idea what they like to do in their spare time (Would a LCBO gift certificate be appropriate? Because if I had to spend my entire day with 12 toddlers, I'd think that's what I may want.)

I love all her teachers. And The Dictator loves them all too.

So I have to get them something good.

Now, I'm not opposed to gift certificates necessarily. But I would like to get them something a little different, like an actual gift. (That way, they also don't know the exact price of what you spent.)

So, my questions are as follows: What is an appropriate amount to spend on teachers?

What gifts have you given the teachers of your sons/daughters that they seemed to really appreciate?

And, of course, I will be getting a gift for the french/mandarin/music/gym teachers as well. And do they have to be as good as the gifts for the two main teachers?

Please, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe something you and the dictator make together; when I was a teacher's assistant those gifts were always the best! Or a gift bag-like a nice coffee mug filled with little things, chocolate, etc...

8:12 PM

Blogger Jayme said...

Hey rebecca. I know this sounds super corny, but if these teachers get anything from you, they'll be super stoked. I'm sure they know you are a successful writer, etc... and even the fact that you took time out of your day to think of them will mean a lot. OK, so that doesn't really answer your question... well, you have to get over the fact that it won't be 'what they've always wanted' because you're right- you don't know what they like and dislike. But for example, the gym teacher- girl or guy? (I forget already if you mentioned it in your blog). If it's a girl I think a LuLu Lemon bag would be great. If it's a guy, maybe, I don't know, dumbbells, weightgainer. That's a joke.

For the Mandarin or French teachers, what about some great cook book that pertains to that culture? You could also add some cool cooking utensils that that culture uses a lot in their cooking. If you go to a high end cook shop, they will be able to tell you exactly what that would entail. Super easy.

For the 'main teacher' something really great. I would say a gift certificate to a spa. I have one little girl, that I stay home with everyday, Lord help me if I have a classroom full of little people all day everyday! Who cares if he/she knows the amount- they will love you for some pampering!!!!

Don't know if this helps. I'm just using up the last bit of my energy before I go to bed.


10:13 PM

Anonymous Michelle said...

I teach pre-school, and the best word of advice I can give you is NO CUTESY TEACHER GIFTS. This includes "#1 Teacher!" mugs, plaques with poetry on them, magnets, etc, and anything woven or crocheted.

Gift certificates are nice - Starbucks, restaurants, whatever. Also nice: candles, etc...bath things (fruits and passion, body shop, etc).

I appreciate every gift I receive from my kids' parents, but good Lord...please no more mugs or hot chocolate powder.

You really don't need to spend much - $10 is fine, but $15-20 is the norm, I'd say. A card is nice, too. Remember, teachers just want to feel appreciated - we take care of kids all day long, and get a lot of slack (even those of us who are great at our just goes with the territory.) Any gift that says "thank you" and "thoughtful" is perfect.

Good luck!

12:11 AM

Anonymous Steph said...

Not sure about the male teacher but a gift certificate for a manicure or pedicure at a spa near the school might be nice...the ease of a gift certificate without the individual knowing you spent X dollars. I'd probably spend around $50 per teacher. Have fun!

4:27 AM

Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I struggle with this every year.
So, I think that the teachers that share equal responsibility should get equal gifts.
And then the teachers who don't do as much/aren't the main teachers should be equal to each other.
(like A list and B list, I guess)
And, not to add to your list, but you should also make sure to get a present for the school secretary if you have contact with him/her.
What we tend to do is make something from my son (like ornaments/cards/etc) and then add a gift. I've done little baskets in the past, but this year we're doing gift certificates for Indigo because these teachers are into that.
My dad was a teacher, and he was inundated with teacher mugs and chocolates. He appreciated them, but really, my parents have soooo many mugs still.

6:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it'd be cute if The Dictator made a card for her teachers herself. I know that'd be a lot of work, but it'd show effort!

Also, gift certificates sound great!

6:52 AM

Blogger Ali said...

starbucks gifts cards. always. or chapters. they are ALWAYS appreciated

11:00 AM

Blogger Bearette24 said...

Chocolate. Maybe fancy truffles (Lindor or such).

4:14 PM

Blogger Yiddishkeit said...


Last year, the class mother collected money from each parent and got gift cards for chapters for all 4 of my daughter's teachers. It was from the whole class. It made things easier, and was less expensive that way.

5:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless parents like you who actually think about these gifts... I am a kindergarten teacher and seriously, it means so much. I agree with the other comments about no cheesy gifts... not that you would. Seriously the ammount of crap I've gotten over the few years I've been teaching is stunning. And it makes me almost feel guilty that someone actually spend money on some #1 teach figurine that I promptly give to Big Brothers or whatever.
Anyways I have to say that I like gift cards the most. Lululemon, the Spa, a home store, chapters... those are my personal faves.... For the specialist teachers you definately do not need to give them as good a gift as for her main teacher but maybe a gift cert to a restaurant?? I know a lot of teachers at my school get those.
Can I also just say that as much as I love great gifts (who doesn't??) I really cherish cards from parents that say meaningful stuff. I swear in some weird way it makes me treat their kids better. Ok hope this helps!
Love your blog!
:-) Sarah

5:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do donations to UNICEF here as well as cards that spell out exactly what my husband and I appreciate about they teacher does for my son. As a teacher, I always appreciate cards, especially homemade one's the best. And the poster above is right on with her comment that anything that says, "thank you" will be treasured.

5:57 PM

Blogger Gabriella said...

This is Samantha's first year in preschool, she's got 5 teachers to buy for, maybe it sounds like I didn't put any thought into it but I bought them all gift cards for Tim Horton's, I've seen most of the teacher's at the one across the street from the school so I know they'd enjoy them.

6:19 PM

Blogger Jill said...

I'm a teacher. I have more snowman mugs and ornaments then I've ever desired. Do you kid's teachers a favour... give them a gift certificate for some coffee or donate money to a charitable organization in their name. I mean really, how many ornaments and snowmen mugs does a person need?

8:00 PM

Blogger Work-At-Home-Mommy-Venture said...

I find it all a bit much to tell you the truth. Personally I don't like a lot of gifts. I accumulate too much. I'm asking people to donate to charity now. Ironically I have an online gift store, but at the same time I believe we have to curb our consumerism at bit. It's a complete contradiction, I know....

10:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For many years I taught at an elite private school west of Calgary, the kind where you drove into the parking lot and could tell where the high school students parked (really fancy SUVs etc) and where staff parked!(minivans and the "I just graduated from uni 10 year old rusty sedan" I received everything from a gold platted cookie serving plate from Harrods to a Bobby Ore biography, WTF? The best gifts are homemade cards that have a really nice, touching, personal thank-you and gift certificates to the places mentioned above. Or if you can find out where the staff meets for drinks on a Friday after work or goes for lunch on PDs thats great too! It is sad but true, the cups end up in the staff room and the other "you're the best teacher ever" gifts end up going to charity or just plain thrown out. I mean really, how much "stuff" can one person keep. And never, never, never underestimate a nice bottle of wine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thats one gift that you know will be truly enjoyed!
$20-50 (depending on what you feel comfortable with and what you can afford) per teacher is plenty. Its nice that you thought of all the other teachers your daughter has too, so many times they go unnoticed for all their hard work! I hope that helps.

7:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a wife of a teacher - just no mugs please (unless they are really good ones). Each year there are atleast 5 more to add to our collection - and they all end up in the charity shop or a garage sale.

7:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get them the book Eat, Pray, Love - you said it helped you recently through a rough time and I think others might appreciate it too. It's one of those books that can help people through a variety of hard times....

1:46 PM

Anonymous Nicole said...

Okay, clearly I haven't been reading your blog very closely - I thought your daughter was in Calgary in a Jewish school? Are you in Toronto now?

My son's preschool teachers are getting Chapters gift certificates, and the "class mom" is collecting for gift certificates to a mall.

2:38 PM

Anonymous Catharine said...

My kids' school sent home a letter asking everyone to bring a loonie/toonie instead of a gift, and the teachers would make one big donation to Sick Kids. The not=for-profit literacy organization Frontier College has also created a teacher tribute program: (see "Thank a Teacher" at left). Teachers will appreciate the gift of knowledge.

8:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's very late, but maybe useful for next time. Homemade cookies!

8:25 AM


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