Y’all, what’s up with it being mid-November already? It totally took me by surprise, but I’ve recovered enough to present my second annual gift guide. It’s grown exponentially, as I’ve included ideas for everyone, not just boys. I’ll post it in installments so you don’t fall asleep reading.
I looked over last year’s post and I stand by all those gift ideas for the boys. The safes are being used. Drew was re-reading Little Lit just last night. The pillows are now beloved. The jump rope has been used for nefarious purposes, but I can’t be everywhere at once, can I??
Best of all, the boys have been taking music lessons and are collaborating on actual songs now, so the years of buying cheap instruments have paid off. You haven’t parented until you’ve tied a red bandanna on your head and moaned “Where do we go now? Where do we go now?” into a hairbrush while your kids drum and strum “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
I’ve divided the gifts into rough categories for easier browsing. Readers, please comment with additional ideas!
Today’s installment: Teachers, Babies and Toddlers
Some teachers, especially those instructing the higher grades, are not remembered at the holidays. Other teachers are bombarded with body lotion and apple-themed items. I went straight to the teachers themselves for gift tips.
Kimberly at Parenting Without A License put it well:
As a teacher can I ask you for the love of god, please, please, PLEASE take all apple related items off of your list. (This also includes all school bus, crayon, and “inspirational teacher” themed geegaws). Unless you’re dealing with a first year teacher, I promise you we have more than enough “Apple Crap.”
Oh, and another thing? Those gift cards to the educational supply/toy store? While appreciated, they aren’t the super fabulouso gift you all claim they are. Sure, we appreciate them, and it saves us from spending our own money on stuff for your kids, but think about that for a sec…What you’ve essentially done when you give a teacher a giftcard like that is say, “I bough my kid a present; you can pick it out.”
Finally, the home baked goods? Lots of teachers don’t eat them. The prevailing attitude being, “dude, I don’t know what your kitchen is like, or what your hygiene policies are. Also, I’m not sure if you baked these before or after little Jackson got a “D” on that report, so I’m not certain there wasn’t anything “extra” in the mix.”
Lots of parents give us mugs. Every year. For every occasion.
So, um, yeah. Teachers like wine. Or gift cards to restaurants. The movies are good too.
Personal letters telling us how much you appreciate what we do for your kid, however? We save those FOREVER.
Reluctant Prophet seconded the moratorium on apple related items: We could pretty much decorate entire houses with apple stuff, and still not run out.
What to give? Cash, gift card for spa or shopping, boat totes from LL Bean, cookbooks, Starbucks cards. Have the room mother collect money from all families and purchase one large gift.
A thoughtful reader noted that sometimes it’s uncool for teens to bring teacher gifts to school. She suggested mailing a gift card to the teacher at home or school, or dropping the gift in the office.
BABIES + TODDLERS
It’s been almost a decade since I had a baby, and the industry gets together and changes all the rules and toys and equipment every two years, so I’m hopelessly out of date on this one. I consulted Aunt Lulu, however, and we came up with some ideas.
When our boys wet the crib we had to change the whole damn deal (or stick the baby on the other end of the crib until he wet that end, too). Now there’s the Ultimate Crib Sheet which snaps over the real sheet and can be easily removed when wet. A family would need two– one to use and one to wash.
I’m sure we’ve discussed this before, but monogramming is a big deal in the South. Aunt Lulu says that she loves the sheet she got that was monogrammed with her son’s initials. She’s also seen them done with “God bless this precious child.” I might also suggest “Dear God, if I have to change this damn crib sheet again I might go ballistic,” but that would really be a gift for the parents.
The LL Bean Boat Bag made another appearance here. I’ve linked to the one that zips, which is key if you travel as much as Aunt Lulu does. I’m not as preppy as she is, so instead of the classic, I’d get one of these customized bags in groovy colors. I would order long handles, a zipper and an outside pocket to make it the most useful. Tip: Not sure what color to get? Look at the colors your recipient wears and decorates her house in and choose accordingly.
My nephew has something I can only call a Ball Popper. It has three plastic balls that go in one hole and pop out another, much to his surprise and delight. There are infinite varieties of this toy around.
I thought the Mini Masters Boxed Set looked awesome, as I am a fan of anything that causes children to accidentally absorb useful information. This is a set of four board books, one each with pictures by Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh and Degas. You can also get others, like Painting with Picasso, separately. Toddlers who learn that Van Gogh painted “Starry Night” when they are two will have a definite advantage when it’s time to study for the Art History exam in college.
You will not be popular with the child’s parents if you purchase a one man band or anything with thousands of little pieces. If you’re going to order from Young Explorers and hope to receive it before Christmas, well, I hope you placed your order last summer.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the gift guide. Feel free to suggest other teacher or baby/toddler gifts in the comments.
I still need a WordPress podcast expert to help me set up feeds for the blog and iTunes.