At the end of the year, what teachers really want are gift cards. Short and to the point. The End.
Wait, what more can I say about "End of the Year" teacher gifts?
Growing up I used to think getting money as a gift was so boring compared to my friends who received actual gifts that they opened and got to enjoy instantly. It didn't help much that my mom would usually take an envelope that she would use for bill payments (the kind where you can't read thru the envelope because it was dark inside) and literally wrote -To: Barb Happy Birthday! Love, Mom and Dad on the outside and seal it with cash inside. Why bother with a card when you can just use an envelope? Maybe it was a Filipino thing but mostly everyone I knew who wasn't Filipino got items and not cash from their parents. It was only until about two years ago that I held onto the notion that giving gift cards was the equivalent to the safe, boring, lack of imagination or creativity gift as I had received growing up.
Nowadays, HOWEVER, I'm totally on board with gift cards for teachers! Would I rather give them envelopes of cash? Sure. These heroes work their tails off and help shape the future for our children. Even though boxes of chocolates, bath lotions and coffee mugs are thoughtful gifts, there is only so much re-gifting these teachers can do if they get 20 of these. So go ahead and give them what they really want - a gift card that allows them to buy something that they actually want and will use. Imagine that. If you want to be creative, you can pair it with something to go with the theme. Last year I gave teachers the best ice cream scooper (Pampered Chef - contact me for a rep, I have a great one) and gift cards to three or four different ice cream shops in the Twin Cities. This was a win-win (thoughtful pinch) for all because I supported a mom with her business of Pampered Chef and the teachers got a great kitchen tool plus a gift card to buy whatever they wanted at the ice cream shops - even if it ends up being coffee instead of ice cream.
This year I wanted to support another mom who sells for Stella and Dot. Back in February, I bought all the female teachers jewelry and it is perfect because it helped the hostess get something she wanted, it helped the mom who sold the jewelry and I'm hoping the teachers really like their gifts. If they don't, they will exchange it for something they want. Along the same lines as a gift card, I put a little thoughtfulness in what I chose for each teacher. But if she wants something else, it's a credit towards what she wants. Finding something you like at Stella & Dot is super easy.
You've all seen the popcorn tubs filled with candy, popcorn and movie tickets. Or the traveling coffee mugs with the coffee gift cards. The garden themed watering can, gloves and a gift card to a garden shop. How about sunscreen, bug spray and an REI gift card? Some unique gift cards that could get these teachers out on the town are ones to a paint and drink venue, comedy club, bowling or spa finder. When my class of moms wanted to chip in for our parent educator everyone picked up their own gift cards from bread shops, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, restaurants, and we put it in a delightful Stella & Dot wallet. I have also given a little I.D. card holder (by KT Designs) filled with a couple of small value gift cards so teachers can collect their gift cards in one place or use the card holder when they sport their cute clutch purse for a night on the town.
Another win-win is there are some schools that sell "script" which means you can buy gift cards for popular stores, restaurants etc. The same gift card will instantly give a percentage back to a school or fund raiser which will help support their cause. So you pay $15 for a $15 gift card to Starbucks and the school gets a % of that sale - there is no extra cost to you for helping someone else. That's a pinch. Ask around, I bet you'll find someone who sells script as their fundraiser.
The point is, you can do a whole lotta win-wins, if you plan ahead. Do my childhood "cash-in-an-envelope" gifts belong in the same category as a win-win? Not too many people dislike cash. And oh how I'd love to give our teachers envelopes of cash but I think there are laws that prohibit that. Besides, I guess you can call me old school - I'm a sucker for thoughtfulness!