Teacher Gifts for the Pinterest-Challenged

I am terrible at crafts.

As a mom in 2018, I feel like there needs to be a support group for that. We could each take a turn, standing in a room, and recite, “I am terrible at crafts.” Then we disclose all of our crafting fails (like when I spent hundreds of dollars on a vinyl machine that sat in a drawer for a year and a half, doing nothing, because I didn’t accept that I was terrible at crafts), and then we eat store-bought baked goods until we either forgive ourselves of our shortcomings or are numb to the pain of our shortcomings.

The end of the school year is coming, and it's a time that seems to shine a spotlight on all crafty shortcomings. I think the idea behind this is that with multiple children in school, gifts can get expensive, so this allows you to provide something that is thoughtful but inexpensive.

Or perhaps it’s just like high school all over again, except instead it’s shaming me for not knowing how to adequately use a hot glue gun instead of a flat iron. Regardless of emotional and psychological barriers to crafting the perfect teacher gift, here are some ideas for those of us who break out into a cold sweat at the mention of Pinterest:

  • Gift cards. Sure, they can be impersonal. But think about the wide range appeal, the ease in wrapping, the ability to grab it in the check-out line at the grocery store when you are buying milk at 9:00 at night. Get a gift card that allows the teacher to treat themselves to a coffee or ice cream, or to get something lovely at the bookstore. Get them a gift card to Target, because everyone loves Target. Everyone.
  • Office supplies, fun edition! Yes, office supplies can be fun! Brightly colored sharpies, fun shaped post-it notes, and markers designed for sniffing that won’t make people think you might have a drug problem.
  • A thoughtful, handwritten note. Speaking fully as a social worker, I know what it feels like to be in a profession where you want to help people, and frequently only hear any feedback when things go wrong. Think about it; the last time you emailed your kid’s teacher, it was probably because something wasn’t working out well. So writing a note to express your gratitude that your kid has a safe place to learn every day can mean the world to someone who often only hears about the bad stuff.
  • And finally, a quote from the comments section of an article I read when researching teacher gifts: “One year my husband brought home another large box of gifts he had received from his early elementary-aged students for Christmas: a couple of fun ties, several boxes of chocolates and chocolate-covered cherries, mugs, ornaments, gift cards, items related to his hobbies, homemade treats, and many lovely cards and notes from students and families. Then I noticed a ceramic collie (dog), which was medium-sized and chipped in a couple of places. It looked like maybe it had been around for awhile (sic). I asked if the staff had a white elephant exchange or where the collie came from. He explained that it was a gift from a student who really didn’t have anything…but wanted to give something special. I don’t think any gesture or gift could have honored my husband more.”

So be thoughtful. Or don’t. The options are endless, even when you aren’t on Pinterest.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.

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