Design

Gift Guide #9: The Impossible-to-Shop-For Crowd (You Know Who You Are)

liz lemon thumbs up

Who’s left on your holiday shopping list? There are always a few people who are tough to buy for, so this month (in our weekly email) we asked who was stumping you the most. Your answers: grandparents, teachers, tweens and teens, co-workers and inexpensive gifts. Here are tons of ideas, most of which are under $25…

TEENS AND TWEENS:

What does one buy for a person who’s still trying to find their place in this world? How about a pretty piece of jewelry, a beloved makeup product for a natural glow, or the cutest llama planter (named Lloyd!). If all else fails, there’s always the gift of shopping. What teen doesn’t love to receive a gift card… or a big wad of cash?!

CO-WORKERS:

You spend hours with them, and yet, their gifts remain a mystery. Do not fret. One word: socks. Socks are the answer, and I love these anchovy ones. You could also try a grown-up version of their favorite 3 p.m. snack, or a charming mug or planter, to brighten up his or her desk.

TEACHERS:

To thank these heroes in your life, skip the mugs (so many mugs!), and opt for a heartfelt note along with a Target gift card. “It’s always nice to get a gift from the whole class,” says Kerry, a first grade teacher. “It doesn’t have to be big! It shows that there is a community that extends outside your classroom. Last year, parents pooled together $5 each to buy a gift card to my local bookstore for me and my aide, which was extra special since her hard work often goes unrecognized. Fresh flowers (Trader Joe’s even!) are nice, too.”

IN-LAWS:

For those hard-to-buy-for family members, a food gift (like this BROWN BUTTER chocolate bar) can do the trick. There’s also a sweet bangle that says “heart of gold,” or this maddening puzzle that changes color in the light. And a donation in their name is one gift that always works beautifully.

Thoughts? Are these helpful? Any other stumpers on your list?

P.S. Our winter guide to NYC, and… the complete 2018 Cup of Jo gift guide!

(Charity donation photo by HKI/Ian Christmann.)

  1. Sara says...

    For a funny gift for a friend, I bought for several people as a joke this year from Amazon bangles that are a flask. They come in a variety of colours and even come with a little funnel! They have been a big hit. My hairstylist screamed that it was even better than her engagement ring. I got the idea from the Shahs of Sunset tv show of all places.

  2. Megan says...

    I love your gift guides– but I still feel lost regarding what to get my son’s daycare teachers. I want to get something a bit more than a gift card– I mean they’ve changed ALL those diapers, haha! And really provided a home-away-from-home for my son when I’m at work.

    • Meghan says...

      I got our daycare/preschool teachers a thing of really nice hand cream (L’Occitane Shea Butter) because they wash their hands so much! It’s a luxury version of a staple they need but might not splurge on for themselves. I stuck a card in there that said: “for the hands that help me grow.” And I put it all in a brown kraft gift bag that I let him color all over and design. It added a personal touch. Don’t know if that helps you at all but I had the same problem — I agonized for weeks until I landed on this.

  3. Lindsay says...

    As a teacher, THANK YOU for the great suggestions — I’d love any of those. In addition to mugs (and Bath & Body Works products and Yankee Candles, womp womp…) I get sooo much SUGAR. Chocolate bars, boxes of chocolates, homemade cookies, etc. etc. I end up giving it all away… would much prefer some flowers or a gift card.

  4. I always try to buy sentimental gifts for my parents. It’s sometimes hard to think of something new and thoughtful every year. I ended up finding a music crank that plays the song (What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong) that my dad and I danced to at my wedding. I can just see him now opening the box, his head tilting to one side, and saying “awwwwww”.

  5. I work on the marketing team at Aura Frames and saw this comment thread come up in my google alerts.

    “Kelly” please reach out to me directly via support@auraframes.com – I would love to help you gift an Aura frame for your grandpa this holiday. All he would need is a WiFi connection to receive real-time photos from family members. It’s a very easy way for him to stay connected with you all.

    Best,
    Christine

    • Kelly says...

      Hi Christine,
      Your offer is so lovely and appreciated. Reached out to you last week. If you’re able to get back to me, I would love it!
      -Kelly

  6. Savannah says...

    I wore the heart of gold bangle for my wedding as my only jewelry because I listened to the song non-stop during wedding planning. I thought at the time that I should buy something more “precious” but I like wearing it now in my normal life with a toddler and remembering how it felt to put it on the first time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s really sweet, savannah!

  7. A Martin says...

    This website gives me life. If you are Latino or identify with our culture, check this out. They have Selena Loteria, Chespirito Loteria, Selena prints and air fresheners! Perfect white elephant gifts, stocking stuffers!! https://www.ruthlezzsociety.com/collection/la-washing-machine

    • Fiona says...

      remezcla also has wonderful links to amazing Latinx artists and artisans full of the best stuff – my fave i found through remezcla was Sandia Stitches and her Choncha and Mazapán embroidery – ALL the heart-eyes!

  8. Nancy Wallace says...

    My parents got my MIL a gift card to the local car wash. I think it was her favorite gift last year! I only wish I had thought of it first.

  9. Liz says...

    For those of you buying a teacher or teacher’s aid a gift card would you feel comfortable saying how much you are spending? My kids are in Kindergarten so this is our first year giving teacher gifts and wanted to see what the norm is.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      our class goes in together to give a gift card to the two teachers, and families typically seem to donate about $20 each (which is split between the two teachers). xo

    • MissEm says...

      I received between $15 and $25

    • cgw says...

      I am a teacher, and I appreciate anything that is given to me. That said, for my daughter’s (middle) teachers and aides (she is autistic and has an aide to help in two class subjects), I get them $20 gift cards to Target. It can add up, but I think it’s a small amount to pay back considering what they do to support her.

    • Sarah says...

      Liz (and all): please don’t forget the others in your school: the librarian, the art teacher, the music teacher, etc. …. These teachers see your children every week, most likely. They know every child in the school and yet rarely get a thank you in the way classroom teachers do. Not to say you have to spend money on everyone, but a genuine, heartfelt thank you note is sure to be appreciated — especially at those times like Christmas or Teacher Appreciation Week, when the classroom teachers are being showered with flowers and chocolates and gift cards.

    • Mindi says...

      @sarah Thank you for the shout-out (teacher librarian here). I had 600 students at my last school, and knew every single kid, first and last name, and something little about them, at the very least. It took years to build relationships, and it was so kind and thoughtful when families thought of me for gifts (I particularly loved flowers and plants, but the Target cards were appreciated, too!).

      One of the things our PTO coordinated to do around teacher appreciation week and the holidays was have the room parents collect money from each class (I think suggested donations were $20 per family, but there were families who definitely could not afford that, so others always stepped in). Then each class was assigned a specials teacher/staff member (art, Spanish, library, special ed, etc) and the room parents took some money out to buy a gift for the classroom teacher as well as the specials/staff member. For example, one year I got a really nice Visa gift card and a note from a 3rd grade class AND a 1st grade class. I was stunned!

      On a funny note: one year a colleague got a massage as a class gift…and the masseuse was the room mom! This particular parent was well-meaning but a wee bit, ahem, zealous… and took every opportunity to conference with the teacher. This ensured that the massage would be possibly the most awkward thing on the planet (oh, sure, I’ll get naked and lie on this table…and talk to you about your student?!) Eeek.

  10. mK says...

    I also send food to people like my mother, in-laws, etc. like Omaha Steaks. My grandmother lives states away and can’t cook much but she can put their premade meals in the oven and easily eat them. Also, I always send these a couple weeks after someone has passed away. They not only have meat dishes,but also fish, chicken, sides, and crock pot meals. It is always a winner.

    Also cheese! I have family in Wisconsin and there are tons of places including Wisconsin cheese mart that send a variety of gifts all around the country. Sending some sort of food from your area to a family member in another part of the country is always nice.

    I would also like to mention don’t give food or cookies to teachers. I have a lot of friends and family who teach and they all say they have to throw out any food gifts for a variety of reasons, so I would give them a gift card, even just for $5.

    The other great gift is to create an event! Plan a day with someone and it doesn’t even have to cost much!! Museums usually have free days or evenings, so and offer to spend time with that person at that free museum and then do some research and grab a happy hour
    meal or a cool take away that has to do with the museum in some way. Another great idea is to make a meal for someone at your home and play games after. Don’t have any games? Play charades!

    You’re a musician? Write a score for a friend or family member? Artist? Paint a small picture! A friend composed a piece for my wedding and it is my ultimate favorite and most memeorable gift!

    But the ultimate favorite is to watch your nieces and nephews or friend’s kids for X number of hours so they can have time on their own. Child care is expensive and this is always the favorite BY FAR!!!

    Non monetary but meaningful gifts are all around, just be creative!

  11. Em says...

    HELP!!! What to give my step dad in law? He cooks a lot, from the Americas Test Kitchen type cookbooks, and freelance edits, but anything he might need or want he buys himself! He doesn’t really watch movies, TV, or read; he is a homebody. Also, my uncle? He is always so hard to buy for; my aunt can’t even come up with ideas! He is up in the wee hours every a.m. baking bread for their deli and then crashes. He is interested in finances/money/saving/business. Thank you for all the tips from teachers/day care educators. So helpful! I promise never to buy another mug!

    • Emily says...

      I vote for a quality cooking knife and some new kitchen towels.

    • Emily says...

      what about some nice, high quality olive oil or other fancy food item? He might enjoy cooking with something nicer than he would normally purchase

    • Em says...

      Thank you so much, Emily! These are great ideas! (I will save one for next year, too!)

    • Sara says...

      In line with Emily’s suggestions, I recommend checking out https://www.mouth.com/ for some fun foodie gifts :) (think I may have actually discovered that site through CoJ!)

      Maybe your uncle would enjoy a subscription to a money/finance magazine? I always think that’s fun because it’s a gift that keeps giving throughout the year! And is maybe something he wouldn’t think to do for himself.

    • Melissa says...

      All the men in my family were geeking out on Thanksgiving over the Meater thermometer. I bought them each one for Christmas! https://meater.com/

  12. Tori says...

    COJ post request!! I usually get tickets as gifts for my boyfriend – we love date nights where we go do or see something new! So I’m wondering, what are some of COJ’s top recommendations for tickets/events/concerts/shows?

    What I’ve been jumping on recently – upcoming artists playing at locations like Bowery Ballroom ($18-25 tickets!) or SoFar Sounds! I also recently started trying to get tickets for The Magician at the NoMad which I hear is the ticket of the year!

  13. Lindsey says...

    I am loving reading these suggestions, so I thought I’d share what I got for these people. We are on a tight budget as my husband is in medical residency.
    For my MIL—a board game to play at our Christmas get-together; a pair of socks that say, “If you can see this, bring me my yarn” (she’s a big knitter and loves “themed” gifts); leather earrings
    For my FIL—a T-shirt made in the city we moved to a few months ago. It says, “The Mountains Are Calling,” and we hope he understands that by “mountains” we mean “your grandchildren” and will come visit.
    For the teacher—a target gift card wrapped up in a pretty plaid hand towel with a Santa spatula
    My own mom got an art print from Minted and my dad got a mug with the grandkids’ pictures…he seriously has everything he could ever need and more.

    • Sarah says...

      We’re in residency too! It’s tough to find gifts on all budgets.

  14. Kate says...

    That Heart of Gold bangle is beyond perfect!! Getting one for my mother in law and a few more for future gifts. Such a nice, heartfelt message on a simple, classic piece. Thank you!

  15. Andrea says...

    Who else bought themselves a Christmas gift? I generally lay off buying anything I need in November or December, in order to have gift ideas to give people for me. Over the last two months, I kept coming back to the idea that I’d like to put a big art puzzle together after Christmas, so I bought myself one when doing my other shopping. I am wrapping it and putting it under the tree. Thanks, Santa!

    • Sasha L says...

      Me!! I’ve never done before, but last night I ordered myself a pale pink velvet swing dress, super on sale. I’m so excited. I’m imagining petting sleeve repeatedly, like a cat.

    • jet says...

      .I never wrap anything for myself, but christmas is really the only time I go mall shopping, so I get myself a lot of things.

    • Nikki says...

      The Patagonia sweatpants are such a splurge ($70 bucks for sweatpants, seriously?!) but I love the company so much and think their things are great quality and they were flattering and soft so…. Merry Christmas to me!!!

      Also- side note I’m a 3rd grade teacher and my students families chipped in and bought me a visa gift card. Supposedly they collected $20 dollars in October (they say it’s easier then because you aren’t spending money on school supplies like in August/September and Christmas gifts so it’s easier to ask for it). They gave me half of the gift at xmas and half at the end of the year. Together I was able to buy all the supplies my boyfriend and I needed to go on a 4 day backpacking trip to Alaska. When I sling my beautiful Osprey backpack over my shoulder I think happily about those families and children. It was cash yes, but it was so lovely and allowed us to plan a trip with expenses we could otherwise not afford.
      (Also as a teacher who doesn’t drink coffee visa giftcards are a safe bet lol)

  16. LAURA says...

    my h&m clothing has lasted years!

  17. JP says...

    Movie tickets gift card.

  18. Claire says...

    My 2 suggestions are: A gift subscription to The Sun magazine. No advertising, fabulous writing. My favorite magazine for ever and always.
    And delicious dried apricots from the Apricot King. We get them every year to enjoy.

    • Sasha L says...

      The Sun is so wonderful. What a thoughtful gift that would be.

    • Jane says...

      Just want to third the comment on The Sun. It is truly a year round gift. I originally received as a gift years ago and every time I receive in the mail, I steal away to read cover to cover.

  19. Anne says...

    Before my grandmother passed, we would get her a small basket from Harry and David, usually one with a few pieces of fruit, a cheese, and maybe a chocolate treat. It was small enough for one person, not too unhealthy, and a treat to get fresh fruit in the winter.

    • jet says...

      Yes. I used to get my mil harry and david pears–huge treat for those who lived in the depression.

  20. Wednesday says...

    For my hard to buy for this year I did Giordanos pizzas. Free shipping and a cost of about $20 a pizza when bought in sets of six. It’s not more ‘stuff’, it’s a special treat and an easy dinner some night this winter. Can’t wait to give a taste of Chicago to family in Iowa…

    • That’s exactly what I gift to myself on my birthday every year….😀

    • Veronica says...

      THIS is a great idea

    • Nikki says...

      I LOVE sending food. I send Baked by Melissa cupcakes to my sweet out of town friends when they have their second or third children (they have so many clothes, but late night cupcakes, come on!) or my friends going through rough times, or for engagements or congratulations… anything really! It’s a bit of an expensive, $48ish for 25 mini-cupcakes, but they get rave reviews and it’s just a small gesture I can do (instead of flowers). I send them about once a month or so I wish they had a loyal buyer club haha

  21. liz says...

    Need help getting with an idea for my boyfriend’s dad pleeease! He’s older, one of those “old fashioned manly men” ie: likes to work on cars, ride motorcycles, and do yard work, doesn’t care at all about fashion and barely knows how to use his iphone so he’s not really into gadgets. he’s also still recovering from a lot of surgery this year so I worry that he might not be up for doing a lot of the typical good experience gifts. He’s also the sweetest man ever and has done a lot to help us this year so I don’t want to get him something too small/thoughtless. any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    • Maggie says...

      Does he like to read? My dad fits that stereotype, and I always get him a couple books for Christmas. He loves WEB Griffin, Tom Clancy, and Dale Brown. Those, coupled with a cross word-esque book (I’ve gotten those, Word Roundups, and the Now I Know Trivia book), a nice card, and maybe some snacks would round out a nice basket.

    • Laura says...

      He might like a vintage or reproduction tin sign to hang in the garage?

    • Taylor says...

      I have a couple ideas!
      –A subscription to a nice, glossy motorcycle magazine (there are a couple of these and they have dedicated followings, it’s pinterest for bikers!)
      –some sort of food/meal delivery to help him during his recovery (if he loves meat, a steak of the month delivery, or a local veggie delivery subscription)
      –Comfortable home clothes (I got my dad the sweat pants from outdoor voices and he loooooves them and he doesn’t care that it’s hip or anything, they’re just so comfortable and he can wear them to the grocery store)
      –if he likes yard work generally, maybe a nice indoor plant he can tend too, there are pepper plant sets and mushroom logs, The Sill makes gorgeous indoor plants that ship

      You sound like a kind daughter in law-ish, I’m sure whatever you and your boyfriend choose to give him will be very appreciated!!

    • Katie says...

      Does he have a favorite sports team? Pro or college? We always default to sports-related shirts/hats/accessories/gifts for my dad, who sounds just like your boyfriend’s dad. Also, we once got my dad a pair of wool-lined slippers that were a surprisingly huge hit — good luck!!
      https://www.ugg.com/s/UGG-US/men-slippers/ascot-slipper/191142827065.html?source=shoppingsite_PLA:%7bcampaign%7d:&kpid=:::ggl:&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkN3rhJCd3wIViCaGCh14HAwREAQYASABEgIGqfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    • Julie says...

      what about a book? maybe he’s not a reader yet, but if he’s recovering from surgery a book may be nice! I gifted my dad Red Notice by Bill Browder last year and he loved it!

    • Katie says...

      My grandpa sounds very similar (loves working on his car especially) and every year my mom buys him a different kind of light. As in, some years for example its a set of LED headlamps with multiple colors, a higher end ultra bright flashlight, or a new light for his workstation. It has become a tradition and if you look around you can find some pretty cool stuff. It might not be the coolest or most creative gift but it’s always something that he can use and it provides my mom with a general framework each year when she goes to hunt for something. Plus they usually aren’t crazy expensive. You can look on Amazon or at Cabelas. Basic auto parts supply stores possibly too.

    • If he’s recovering from surgery, my vote would be something cozy. A soft sweater or sweatshirt (is he into his alma mater, a sports team, a favorite city?) Sheepskin slippers? A scarf?

    • Liz says...

      Thank you for all these wonderful ideas!! Very helpful!! Another thing i thought of after reading others comments (in case anyone else is in a similar situation) one of those fancy ice cream delivery gifts sounds awesome.

    • TD says...

      If he’s a reader – I HIGHLY recommend Endurance by Alfred Lansing. It’s a fantastic day by day account of Shacketon’s voyage to Antarctica. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but it seriously was one of the most gripping books I’ve ever read. Make sure it’s the Alfred Lansing one, as there are a few versions out there by other authors, and he was the only one with direct access to the survivors’ journals.

    • Julia says...

      What about a model car/airplane kit that he could tinker with while he recovers? Or a fun board game to play with family?

    • Sara says...

      What about a pocket knife or multi tool, steaks (like from Omaha Steaks), a nice pair of slippers, or a “coupon” for a nice homemade dinner?

    • Liz says...

      Love these!! Thank you! You guys are the best! Now I have too many ideas haha, going to try to pocket some of these for when his birthday rolls around. xo

    • Sasha L says...

      TD, oh my gosh, I love Endurance, such a thrilling read. Highly recommend, even if you’re not a self evowed Shackleton nerd.

      What a fantastic bunch of recommendations in these comments! COJ readers are the best.

    • My dad was similar-ish… not into cars or motorcycles really, but outdoorsy, liked to work on/fix things all the time, not into tech gadgets or fancy clothes. He didn’t read books (so many books for dad-type recs below!) but loved his National Geographic magazine subscription (there was always one next to the toilet, lol)!

    • Mk says...

      I would recommend some food delivery service. Omaha Steaks makes good precooked meals that are easy to put in the oven and eat. But there are tons of other meal delivery options out there as well.

      You said he likes motorcycles? Has he watched Sons of Anarchy? (I LOVED/ LOVE this show) you could buy him a box set of all 7 seasons so he has something to watch when he recovers. Good luck!

    • Jennifer says...

      Some comments mentioned Endurance about Shackleton’s trip to the South Pole. You might also consider another book: Endurance (same title) by Scott Kelly, about his recent year in space on the International Space Station. I listened to Scott read it on Overdrive (so I very much recommend the audiobook if you have a recipient who likes to listen to books!), and it was gripping and interesting. It would be perfect for guys who were in the service, space nerds, people interested in the current state of international politics…. The list is long. I highly recommend it.

  22. Colleen says...

    Help! Does anyone have suggestions for “handmade” gifts? It’s required for my boyfriend’s family’s gift exchange this year. Can’t really do baked goods as there are diet restrictions involved :(. No kids in the family, so it can’t be a finger-painted masterpiece :) I’m also not very crafty and trying to keep it budgeted under $50.

    • Brooke Anderson says...

      I think your best bet is one of these! Search the web/pinterest for the recipes with the best reviews:

      DIY Bath salts
      DIY bubble bars or bath bombs
      DIY sugar scrubs
      DIY scented candles

    • Erin says...

      I know you said no baked goods but what about other consumable things? A friend of mine once made a bunch of vanilla extract bottles from vanilla bean seeds and vodka (I’m sure you can find a recipe online). Another friend made homemade hot sauce. I was so happy to get both of these!

    • Monika says...

      Homemade vanilla extract

    • Lydia says...

      What are the diet restrictions? I find that food items are often even better for people with restrictions because it shows that you took the time and really thought of them to get it right. They also miss out on a lot of the usual holiday treats that they can’t eat and probably get a ton of gifts they can’t eat from people who don’t know them well. Baked good can be tricky with restrictions but there are a lot of other food items that are easier.

      Candied orange peels are an easy but festive and fun treat and work for anyone except people who can’t have sugar or citrus. If people can’t do sugar, savory spiced nuts are good. If they drink, I find that infused liquor is always a hit and with fruit and herbs there are so many options to customize it.

    • Stasha says...

      -Handmade wreath or swag (Depending on the plants you choose, it could work in other seasons too)
      -Cutting/division from a houseplant you already have
      -Handmade cloth napkins (Purl Soho has great patterns!)
      -I third the vanilla extract!
      -Limoncello (super easy)

    • Julia says...

      You could use a website like shutterfly and make a photo calendar or notepads or coasters or something like that. You could use family pictures, or take some nice nature pics or something like that. Handmade, but very little actual crafting involved.

    • d says...

      Try hitting a local craft show; our town has them at a few local elementary schools on Saturday mornings. I usually hear about them through lawn signs.

      Or, just go to Mountain Rose Herbs, buy a large bag of French clay, repackage it in smaller personal size containers and Voila! you have a home-made gift facial mask.

      good luck!

    • Sara says...

      Herb infused salt or butter or olive oil? Or, let’s be honest, vodka?

    • Kate says...

      I second the shutterfly calendar suggestion. I do these for my family every year. You can personalize the calendar itself with birthdays on the actual dates, including pictures of people’s faces. The calendars are inexpensive when they have a 50% off sale (almost all the time). They take around an hour to make once you get the hang of Shutterfly’s software. Its much easier to use on a computer than a mobile device, in my opinion. My family goes WILD for them. I make everyone’s a little different, include different photos, etc., and they all enjoy looking at them when we open gifts.

    • Erica says...

      thekitchn.com has amazing DIY gift ideas.

    • liz says...

      photo book, recipe book, crochet scarf (easy to learn a basic stitch and quick to make if you get extra chunky yarn), homemade kombucha is super easy

    • Emily says...

      Homemade limoncello! We have done this as a homemade gift and its a hit! Pretty easy too!

    • laura k says...

      beeswax candles- you get a kit with beeswax sheets and the wick- you simply roll the beeswax sheet around the wick and you are done- beautiful colors, yummy smell, very little time to create ( like 5 minutes!!!!). easy peasy

  23. I’m a high school teacher, and yes–no more mugs!! However, coffee to go in those mugs is totally different. Each year I seem to get a ton of Starbucks gift cards. They keep my in coffee for awhile!

    • Lindsay says...

      I’m a non-Starbucks-drinking-teacher, and I end up reselling all my Starbucks gift cards on Cardpool for about 75% their value…

  24. Heidi says...

    Our teachers fill out a “My Favorite things” form and the room mom will send out a copy of that around gift giving times like Christmas and Teacher Appreciation. It has their favorite colors, flower, candy, hobbies and other fun stuff. We are getting them gift cards to go to the movies and some boxed Trader Joe’s chocolate peppermints to sneak into the movie theater.

    • Sasha L says...

      This is brilliant!! And those are such nice gifts for your teachers.

  25. Jill says...

    My nephew is 17 and we’re getting him a gift card to his local gas station so he can fill up his tank. As a former teacher and the wife of a veteran teacher, gift cards as the best! Teachers in my state earn very little money, and my husband and I can’t really afford to do date nights. It’s really appreciated when we receive a gift card for a movie theater or restaurant. Teachers receive some pretty funny gifts. One year my Jewish co-worker got what he was told was a Christmas brick. It was a glass brick with Christmas lights inside. He asked us, his Christian co-workers what it could be, but we had no words…

    • Brooke Anderson says...

      Same for my mom, a teacher with 25+ years of experience in VA. She has gotten way too many kitschy “Pinteresty” gifts over the years, but is always thrilled to receive gift cards to Starbucks, Target, and other retail or theaters.

  26. Kelly says...

    The person I’m struggling to find something for is my grandfather. He’s 90, has Parkinson’s, dementia, and is now in a small one-bedroom assisted living facility. Things are not wanted or necessary. He doesn’t really eat out (I used to get him and my grandmother restaurant gift cards, but she recently passed away).

    It’s not really a “thing” I can give him, but perhaps I can set him up with an easy way to see family photos? He (for the most part) still remembers family members. He’s also a great grandfather as of this year and always asks about her. If it’s easily accessible for him from the computer (just a click from the desktop), he’ll be able to navigate it. Any tips for programs would be welcome.

    • Brooke Anderson says...

      I was thinking about a photobook service where a copy of books you would make from your phone’s Favorites roll (or Instagram feed) could be mailed to him monthly – ever tried Chatbooks? The only downside would be the books are kind of small (6x6in.) if he has vision problems.

      There are also digital picture frames that will do slideshows. If you visit him periodically you could update the frame with newest pictures. Or if you buy a more expensive one it will allow the frame to be updated remotely.
      http://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-digital-photo-frames.html

    • Erin says...

      Maybe make a simple slideshow that goes with a beautiful song from his life. I know that there is a lot of research around the beneficial effects of music for people with dementia :)

    • Clare says...

      When my grandfather moved into a nursing home, my mom set up a digital photo frame that automatically rotates through pre-loaded images. She filled it with family photos and updated it occasionally with new/different ones.

    • Summer says...

      How about a nice photo book? One that he can flip through….I created one for my Dad this year. I picked through vintage photo’s and new photos. I used Snapfish to create mine. Chatbooks has really nice books also!

    • Christy says...

      Nixplay frame! We bought one for each set of grandparents, and they love it. Multiple family members can upload pictures as well.

    • mado says...

      If he has internet, what about making him a private instagram account with a desktop shortcut? It might take some work to upload a good set of old pictures but then you could add pictures as you get them. Or, print out pictures and make an old fashioned album!

    • Emily says...

      It sounds kitschy but we gifted my grandfather a digital photo frame this past year for Christmas. He can follow his kids and grandkids on Instagram through it and we can email photos to a certain email address that will automatically update it. The photos are never the same and keeps him up to date on what is going on in our lives!

    • Lindsay says...

      What about one of those digital picture frames that you can load lot of pictures onto and it’s like a slideshow?

    • TipsyJwalker says...

      There are frames available where you can send live picture updates to the frame. So he wont have to do anything. He just can sit there and watch old and new pictures go by. https://auraframes.com/

      Also, google home assistant works similarly. You just have to set it up to a google photo album. A plus for the google home assistant is that he can ask google to watch a show ( if its hooked up to streaming service, Netflix, Amazon prime, etc) watch youtube, listen to an audiobook or podcast.

      Good luck! Happy Holidays!

    • Allyson says...

      Set up an instagram account for him, and then make instagram the home page on his web browser, so whenever he opens the browser, instagram will automatically pop up and he can scroll through his feed.

    • Hi, Kelly! This is a “thing” recommendation, so apologies, but my fiancé’s cousin gave their grandfather a woven blanket that had a picture of their family screened on it, and it was his favorite gift he ever received, especially when he was battling brain cancer. I’m giving one to my grandma this year and I know she’ll love it just as much as he did. I got a Groupon for fleece blankets from CanvasOnSale (https://www.canvasonsale.com) but haven’t received the order yet, so I can’t give an honest review of how it looks, but I know there are companies that screen photos on blankets all over the place! I’m sure whatever you get your grandfather is going to be wonderful. Happy holidays!

    • Jenny says...

      I never comment, but struggle as well with wanting to keep my grandparents/family connected (military family fun). We got my in-laws a digital photo frame a few years ago. I can’t find the brand but google pulls up a lot. The one we got has an app that anyone can add photos to and then send them to the frame.

      They love it and often receive new photos of their grandchildren from our siblings in-law. If he has wifi it may be something easy for you to send updated photos to. Plus they continuously circulate as a slideshow so he could enjoy them all the time.

      Also if you have Amazon prime photos, google photos, or even use shutterfly, you could maybe put a link right on his desktop that leads to an album you and your family update remotely (free option!).

      Just some thoughts!

    • Julia says...

      Having something soft when you’re in an institution is really helpful, so a supersoft small throw blanket could be a really thoughtful gift.

      Also, our nana (my husband’s grandma) LOVES getting snack gift baskets. The saltier/sweeter, the better. She invites other ladies in her home into her room to indulge with her.

      There are also those fancy digital frames you could set up to rotate family photos.

      But most importantly, he probably just wants time with you.

    • Amber says...

      Hi Kelly, just wanted to say I’m thinking of you and your fam this holiday season! My father-in-law (only 70), also has advanced parkinsons with lewy body dementia, and it’s very hard. He recently moved into a memory care facility, and we’ve given him just old fashioned picture frame collages for his room, as he isn’t really that capable with or interested in technology at this point. He also loves sweets, so we’re sure to bring him chocolates, etc when we visit :).

    • Em says...

      I am in the same boat, Kelly, with my 94-year-old Grandpa, who is deep(er) along the way of dementia, just now in a memory care center, and a new great-grandpa, too. HUG. My sis, husband, and I went together to get him a “fidget blanket” off Etsy. It is a super soft lap-sized quilt with different fabric textures and a few items to feel–something to be comforting and play with in his hands. My mom is framing 8×10 versions of a few family photos for his walls, large enough so he can easily see them, so that is an idea, too. I have also considered a stress ball or something like that and lotion for his hands. We got my out-of-town Grandma a Grandpad as an easy way to constantly share photos and videos of the baby. Grandma isn’t crazy about the device but she loves the photos, videos, and video calls. I hope this helps. My heart for all of you going through this with loved ones . . .

    • Sarah says...

      Hi Kelly – I have a similar situation with elderly grandparents. They don’t have access to a computer or smartphone so I have trouble sharing photos, but I did send them a coffee cake from Zingerman’s – a great bakery in Michigan, and sentimental for me/us since we celebrated my law school graduation there. They love the coffee cake and share it with friends and visitors, and solves the issue of not wanting to send a “thing.” Friends of mine use Tinybeans and Moment Garden to share photos of their little ones and that seems like a big hit.

    • Hey Kelly! I just realized I posted my last comment in the wrong spot on this thread so you might not get the notification. I saw your post thanks to Google Alerts – I work for Aura Frames. Our frames are perfect for your grandpa. As long as he has WiFi, you and your family would be able to send photos to the Aura instantly in house instantly from your smart phone.
      Please reach out to me (Christine) and I’ll help get your grandpa set up.

    • Jennifer says...

      Hi Kelly! We have a grandma in the same situation as your grandfather, and the absolute winningest idea has been a family calendar created with family photos—we use Shutterfly, but there are lots of other places that can print one, too. One great tip I got from my mom, who worked for years with dementia patients, was to use large pictures on each page, with large print font giving the names of the few people in the photo, so they can be easily placed. My grandma adores the family photos and it provides an opportunity for nurses and other caregivers to ask her about her family. Other family members now request a copy of the calendar as well. (Or you can gift them, as well.) Also? You can do this every single year forever and it doesn’t get old.

    • Kelly says...

      Thank you all so much for your kind words and suggestions. Really and truly. I knew about digital frames from years past, but I had no idea there were ones you could upload pics to wirelessly now! Where have I been?! That seems like the best option for him. I had worried about him accidentally deleting an icon off his desktop (he’s done it before and didn’t know how to get it back). Albums, I worried about accessibility and storage (would he be able to get it on his own?). Again, thank you all. Sending warm thoughts and best wishes to those in similar situations during the holidays.

    • C says...

      My father was in a similar situation. He loved looking at the large, ever changing digital photo screen of family pictures.

  27. Jill says...

    Other school parents and I have made a breakfast for all the teachers… casseroles, coffee cake, bagels, fruit, etc. My casseroles are in the oven as I type this!!
    Another idea my husband did at work was to have a food truck come and each employee could get a coffee or tea and muffin/cookie at break. It was a big hit.

    • Mk says...

      That’s nice but teachers I know can’t accept food. For allergy and actually security reasons.

  28. Julia says...

    I bought the “heart of gold” bracelet for my SIL a few weeks ago— can vouch that it’s very pretty in person. Just the right weight.

  29. Laura says...

    My husband’s 95 year old grandmother who still loves receiving presents! And “pretty” things to boot so nothing practical. How many scarves and jewelry can I gift her over the years??

    • Betsy says...

      If you are in the same city, give the gift of your time. Take her out to lunch or dinner. My boyfriend’s 95 year old grandmother was transferred to a locked Alzheimer’s unit last fall. She was starting to wander off & get lost. But she calls it prison. We try to take her out of prison every other weekend for lunch. Her son takes her to church, and then lunch, every Sunday. I think the gift of time and reminiscing is the best gift out there. She thrives on the attention, and the unit workers always comment on how good her mood is for days afterwards. We also bring her Trader Joe’s flowers and she loves having fresh flowers.

    • Cait says...

      An amaryllis plant? It will last longer than fresh flowers, but has beautiful flowers on it and they’re around this time of year in stores.

  30. Karli says...

    Lots of teachers on here but I thought I’d add my 2 cents! Something I’ve been gifted a few times is a movie gift card. It is such a treat to buy yourself a Gold Class ticket (less chance there’ll be kids in the cinema!). It is a real treat!
    This year I received an insulated water bottle and I thought that was a very thoughtful gift as well.

  31. Bonnie says...

    I’m an early childhood educator, and my favorite ever class gift was when every kid in the class shared his/her favorite recipe (the parents put a picture of the child and the recipe in a shutterfly book) and then they each included one ingredient for the recipe in a cooler bag. For example, I got star anise for an Asian dish, risotto rice from an Italian family, and even a 4-pack of beer to accompany a recipe for burgers! It might be too much to organize with a class right now, but tuck this idea away for June. The cookbook is one of the few teacher gifts I’ve held onto after 13 years of teaching…

    • Gina Hoffman says...

      I love this so much! Totally stealing this idea for my daughter’s kindergarten teacher for the end of the year! Thank you!

    • Bonnie says...

      Gina– that teacher will feel so loved!

  32. diana k. says...

    Every year I tell everyone in my life that I don’t want gifts and only if they really insist do I send them a link to my to-read list, which details all the books I would enjoy receiving. EVERY YEAR I still get an incredible amount of stuff I don’t want/need/have no room for. I know the intention is probably good, but I DON’T WANT IT!

    No more succulents! This trend has made people think that everyone is eager to care for another living thing. I’ve killed many a cactus, and I guarantee the “unkillable” plant you gave me will not make it past February!

    No more mugs! Especially not filled with year old chocolate!

    No more bath bombs!

    No more sheet masks!

    ABSOLUTELY no clothing you’ve picked out for me, no matter how well you think you know my taste or the size of my body, please stop!

    NO MORE CANDLES!

    No more scalp massagers (why did I get 2 of these last year!!!!)

    I still appreciate socks though!

    • Katie says...

      I love getting socks too!

    • I just laughed so hard at your comment! I agree, people really mean well and they delight in giving, but it’s unfortunate when it’s just another THING. I do love socks, though.

    • Sasha L says...

      We can all agree on socks. Yes to socks.

    • Summer says...

      Your issue with succulents is my issue with orchids. How many beautiful plants must I watch slowly die?

      I like socks too (I also still like candles and bath bombs too).

      The description of the year old chocolate in the mug deserves a standing ovation for it’s accuracy.

  33. Megan says...

    Handwritten notes from kids and parents are my most appreciated gift as a teacher. When I am having a rough day at work, reading through notes and cards keeps me going. It helps me remember that my job is bigger than tests and data and is all about the impact I have on my awesome students and their families.

  34. A says...

    Not a H&M gift card. Please, no fast fashion.

    • H&M is actually a fairly GOOD company in terms of sustainability and fair trade. They even have a clothing recycling program. It may not be the best clothing company, but it’s certainly not the worst.

    • liz says...

      agree with A, no h&m!! nothing I’ve every bought from them survives more than a few washes. no matter what their practices are, they don’t make things to last, they make things to inevitably make their way to landfills. also who knows what kind of dyes/processes they use (pollutes AND uses an insane amount of water) to keep the prices so low.

  35. Joaquina says...

    From a school district employee: NO MORE MUGS!!!
    For goddsake our staff cupboards are bulging at the seams with mugs.
    Please, I beg thee thoughtful families of our students; handwritten cards
    or bookstore gift cards are so appreciated.

    • diana k. says...

      hahaha, I second this.

  36. Lana says...

    I bought my preteen neices fun gel face masks, good razors, shaving cream and a bandaids and sleep masks that look like sloths. Hahaha!
    Each year I get my mother-in-law a book I’ve enjoyed and framed pictures of our kids. Sometimes she loves the books and sometimes she doesn’t. Either way it makes for interesting conversation the next time I see her.
    My 85 year old grandma has dementia and loves to eat ice cream, (actually that’s all she eats) so we set up a Schwann’s delivery for her. It frustrates her when she runs out and people can’t drop what they are doing to bring her some.
    My eight year old desperately wanted an iPhone, but there’s no way on earth she’s getting one. Instead, because I want her to have some freedom without me worrying sick about where she is,
    we got her Relay. I can’t wait to see how it works! We also got her Alexa because she always thinks it’s hysterical to ask it to tell her butt jokes and what the weather is like where her grandparents live.

    • Jill says...

      Yes! Gifts they’ll use up to the last drop and also love, are the only gifts I’ll give :)))

    • Francine says...

      I am curious: Do you know that your pre-teen nieces already shave? Or do you intend for it to be an “if ever the need arises” gift (like the pouch with period pads, a calendar to mark the days on and emergency taxi money(!) that my mother gave me when I was ten)?

    • Francine says...

      Just wondering: Do you know that your pre-teen nieces are already shaving, or is this a “whenever the need will arise”-gift (like the pouch of period pads, cute calendar to mark the days and emergency taxi money my mother gave me when I was ten)? Love the inclusion of band-aid, definitely necessary (still at my age…).
      We have “step-nieces by marriage” who are pre-teen and I am wondering what is usual at that age in terms of grooming.

    • Jean says...

      I love the “book I enjoyed” idea!

    • Mel says...

      These are all GREAT ideas. Stealing the pre-teen ones for once my nieces are older. I know as a pre-teen I would have felt SO special to get this. Also, the Grandma one made me smile.

    • Jess. says...

      The ice cream for your grandma is the nicest thing ever. And Schwann’s is the best! It’s what my grandma always used to have. xoxoxxx

    • Colleen Wenos says...

      Oh my gosh your grandmother’s so sweet. Sorry about the dementia part – went through that with my dad. He had a gentleman on his nursing room floor that used to burst into song, “Da-da-dadada-da-da-dadum…” and the nurse explained he used to work at a carnival. I guess the positive items and memories stay somehow.

  37. Rachel says...

    And another teacher here. A few ideas:
    *A bottle of wine or champagne! I received it one year as a teacher, and it was great. As a grade level, we opened our bottles, sat around and talked about the kiddos. It was a nice send off into break. If the teacher does drink, it’s a nice little treat. If not, they can bring it to a holiday gathering. Champagne is always a winner!
    * A slightly nicer version of a basic item. Teachers often don’t have tons of money to throw at luxury items. If you know they like coffee, something one step up from grocery store would be great. Really applies to anything. Some slightly nicer tea or granola or chocolate.
    *Gift card to a restaurant near work. It was so nice to be able to dash and pick something up every now and then.

    Of course, attaching a note (with as much from your kiddo as they can do) really makes it tops!

  38. Katie says...

    I also thought, “Boner mug! Perfect gift for my brother!”…and he’s 40.
    Thanks for the inadvertent LOL…glad I wasn’t the only one!

  39. Savannah says...

    I saw the “book nerd” mug before I read the caption and thought: weird move by coj with the BONE mug for this particular gift guide! Not the case as it happens.

  40. Emily says...

    This is my son’s first year in day care. What do you give to the wonderful people who look after your kids? The woman who looks after our son is Jewish, so I’m not sure of the etiquette on a Christmas gift. Can I do a year-end gift? I’d appreciate some suggestions.

    • Sasha L says...

      As a preschool teacher I very much appreciate gift cards, to restaurants, Target, Amazon.

    • Eliza says...

      I don’t actually get teachers gifts…instead I do a donation to Room to Read in their honour (education for girls!) with a heartfelt note about how lucky we are to have them as a teacher and why we love them. Caregivers probably also would appreciate a similar gesture (or maybe not, but I would!)

      Otherwise…I know it sounds thoughtless but I really appreciate when people gift me small gift cards to places like Starbucks because when I’m on a budget those little luxuries are the first to go…but if I have a gift card to somewhere specific I get to have the treat and not go over my budget, so it actually means a LOT to me!

    • Annelies says...

      Last year I gave some luxury hand cream to the people working in my son’s day care and they loved it. They are constantly washing and sanitizing their hands so this is something they definitely appreciated in the colder winter months.

    • Bonnie Winn says...

      A new year’s gift? Just a plain thank you gift? Amazon/bookstore/Target gift card. Restaurant gift certificate. Champagne. I’m an early childhood educator and these are always my favorite. There are so many sweets this time of year that I never want extra cookies or chocolate… If you do something kidish (like with a drawing or a picture of your child), it’s fun if it’s useful, like a tea towel or a cookie platter.

    • Jess says...

      Emily,

      Get her a belated Hanukkah gift! I like to give a pampering gift to those who help take care of my loved one like a gift certificate to a nail salon that is near their place or a bottle of (Kosher) wine.

    • Kelly says...

      Friends of mine who work in day care and pre-school have greatly appreciated useful things related to their work or things to pamper themselves with. Do you live in a wintry area and are crafty? A knit hat could be great. Does she always have her nails painted? A gift certificate to a local nail salon, perhaps? Truthfully, I also really think there’s no harm in asking. “I’d really like to treat you to something special as the year closes. What’s something you would really love?” It doesn’t diminish the thoughtfulness in my eyes, and you know that she’ll really like it.

    • Elissa says...

      I think cash is best for day care teachers (and I think a year-end gift is totally fine for non-Christian teachers). My kids have graduated now, but we had seven years of day care and I know the teachers always really appreciated it. At first I felt a little weird, but it’s guaranteed to be useful!

    • Samantha says...

      It could be a Hannukah gift :)
      I can’t speak for everyone obviously, but I think in general people appreciate the thought (which is what it’s really about in this case) regardless of whether they personally celebrate Christmas or not.

    • Kelly says...

      A cash bonus. My daughter is 2.5 and has been in daycare since she was 4 months old. Our first holiday season there I asked all the other parents what they were giving (it’s a 9 kid daycare) and they all said they give a cash bonus. We even all agreed on an amount so no one would look bad (again, not necessary and only because there’s 9 of us) – the cost of one week at the daycare split amongst the 3 main staff people (with the head woman getting slightly more). I added a succulent and card for each of them with the money envelope last year.

    • Jess. says...

      Can’t go wrong with something around Thanksgiving (though a little late this year, obvs) or Valentine’s Day, in my experience. “We’re thankful for you! We love you!” Gift cards, flowers, food are thoughtful gifts that make people feel appreciated. xox

    • Nancy says...

      At our day care we’ve give gift cards to coffee shops or restaurants in the neighborhood. The teachers generally get an hour lunch break so giving them a little treat that they can pick up during their break is nice. Also Amazon gift cards. At our day care the typical gift is $20-$25/teacher. And definitely a hand written note. We have our son “sign” the note by tracing the outline of his hand, it’s a sweet reminder of how little they are.

    • Nina says...

      You could give her a gift today. Gift cards for nails or a massage are always nice. Or to Sephora or Ulta or Sally’s. Book stores as well. My son’s daycare provider LOVED starbucks so I always got her gift cards for them.

    • Mk says...

      Charity is nice (I say this as someone who has worked at non profits, NGOs and the UN) but I think a gift card is great bc charity is thoughtful but teachers, and even more so preschool and daycare teachers (no pension, sometimes bad or no health insurance) don’t get paid enough. So if you can give the gift to them!

  41. MissEm says...

    I’d heard so many teachers say that a handwritten note is the BEST gift they get and as a parent, I thought they were just being nice, but then I worked as a teacher’s aide and they were 100% right. When you invest in these young people, it means the world to know that your work has been noticed and has made a difference in someone’s life, even in a small way. It’s worth more than any random gift (that said, bookstore gift cards are also the best). And yes, don’t forget the aides and assistants! Chances are, though they don’t do the lesson planning, they do: teach sometimes, read books with your child, talk them through a hard moment, sit with them while they cry, help them with their work, encourage them when they’re struggling, notice when they’re doing well, supervise lunch and recess, work through fights and arguments, help them get their snowpants on (ugh, snowpants!) or discreetly change when they’ve had an accident, and love your children as much as the main teacher does. Aides are often overlooked at the holidays and end-of-year, and even though most aides don’t do the work for any recognition, it’s nice to feel seen and appreciated.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for this!!! the sweetest. and such a good reminder of how much wonderful and kind things teachers do.

      PS just confirming: when you say a handwritten note, do you mean from the kids? (versus the parents?)

    • Paige says...

      In response to Joanna’s question- I teach second grade and a note from either the kids or parents is treasured! I have kept a lot of my sweet notes from over the years but my most special letter was from a parent at the end of the year which expressed how much she appreciated the love I poured into her son. He was one of my most difficult kids, but I invested so much time into him. I feel like sometimes the hardest kids in class end up being the ones that have the most impact on my heart. Sometimes in the beginning of the year I have to think to myself that this “hard” kid is going to have a very special place in my heart come spring time.

      Also, aides and other classroom helpers are wonderful! I wish our school district had the funding to have classroom aides and support staff! We need them!! <3

    • Sherry says...

      Also a teacher here- a handwritten, thoughtful note from the student OR parent is worth it’s weight in gold. If you (as the parent) are the one writing it, try to mention some of what your child appreciates as well as your own ideas.
      I can still remember some of the words written to me almost 15 years ago!

    • Lindsey says...

      YES! I know cash can feel a little bit awkward, but pre school teachers and teacher’s aides make so little money, that some extra cash around the holidays can really make a difference in their lives. A friend of mine who taught pre-school said it was the difference between being able to fly to see her family or not.
      Pre-school teachers and aides work SO hard, and usually for such little pay, that I think it’s almost the most respectful gift, because they can use it however they need it.

    • MissEm says...

      Either from the parent or the child! I also remember when I worked individually as an aide for a kindergarten child with Down Syndrome, his mother gave me his first day of school photo at the end of the year with his name, in his own handwriting, on the back and a thank you for guiding him through that year. It meant so much, and I loved the visual reminder of him.

  42. Olivia says...

    Am I the only person who read the pin and thought “please god no one tell me what they’re reading!” A few suggestions, sure, but ugh some people drone on about plots of books they love…someone read the synopsis of every book they bought in an order from amazon this week…please no

    • diana k. says...

      I see it as an upgrade from the usual “tell me what you’re watching on netflix”

  43. Kate says...

    We have personalized notepads for my sons teacher as I noticed at parent teacher night she was using photo copied stationary.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so sweet!!

    • diana k. says...

      This is brilliant and so sweet.

    • Morgan Rose says...

      I am a teacher and I would LOVE THIS! Also post-it notes, a fancy pen or anything other fun desk things. Teachers love desk things!

    • Gina Hoffman says...

      This is a brilliant idea!

  44. Virginia says...

    My boyfriend and I are getting his mom an unlimited Kindle subscription for a few months — she’s a huge reader so we’re also gifting Michelle Obama’s new book as well, but hoped she would enjoy being able to pick some of her own too. Will report back on how it lands, ha!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s such a great gift!!

    • chris says...

      We have kindle unlimited and it isn’t very good. In fact this comment is reminding me that I need to cancel it. Yes, they have over a million books but most of them are lousy and you end up paying for the good ones or still using your library app for a free version.

  45. Corinne says...

    For my in-laws and parents we like to choose one of L.L.Bean’s gorgeous fresh Christmas wreaths, or pick special tulip and daffodil bulbs from Terrain for a gift that keeps giving come spring.

  46. Claire says...

    Another teacher here: I think a thoughtful gift would be some fancy pens (to make grading more enjoyable), a gift certificate to a local bookstore or place to buy classroom supplies, a handwritten note, or a plant for my classroom. Any gesture of appreciation or recognition is so lovely though! I’d only note to be careful of giving anything “Christmas-y.” My dad, a former teacher, is Jewish and relieved so many Christmas ornaments – so thoughtful, but ultimately not a part of his life.

  47. ellie says...

    If I’m organized enough I start my daughter off early to make a note/picture for each teacher. When she was too young to write I had her dictate what she wanted to say, including what she loved most about each teacher (“Ms Sue tells the best jokes”, “i love everything about Ms. Denise”, Ms. Patti has the biggest smile that makes any day better”.)

    This year we did socks with cheetahs for her teacher (because teacher knows my daughter is obsessed with cheetahs) and a hand-written note with a picture she drew.

    I’ve also potted plants into nice planter and given them as gifts to coworkers and teachers. And the gift card is HUGE! They spend sooooo sooooo (too much) of their own money on the students.

  48. Cynthia says...

    Yes to skip the mugs! As a newly retired teacher, I have all the mugs I need and then some. Gift cards to Target or any store are greatly appreciated. Handwritten notes are the best. Novelty socks are a fun gift, too.

  49. I definitely thought that Book Nerd mug was going to say boner. Which is probably because I spend all day with 7th graders.

    • Laura says...

      Me too!

    • Deidra says...

      You aren’t alone. And I’m a prude stay at home mom who avoids middle schoolers! 😆

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      laughing out loud :)

    • Becca says...

      me tooooo. hs teacher here and their humor rubs off lol

    • Lana says...

      ME TOO!!! 😂

  50. Ingrid says...

    As a 45 year veteran teacher, I know what I loved more than anything: the handwritten note. I saved every single one. My second choice is a gift card, or some classroom supplies. Please, no mugs or things that smell…. I loved my kids, but I didn’t need more stuff…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this makes my heart swell! thank you so much for sharing. xo

  51. Kenzie says...

    SO.MANY.MUGS.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  52. Trish O says...

    Cute ideas, but teens are so hard. I have two. My good friend (also the mom of many teens) thinks they are easy. She says “I love you. Here is cash. Happy Holidays” Yep, that is what they want…boy or girl. teens….

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!

  53. Whoa the FIRST comment is from Europe? Thanks for the timely list. Cracking up over socks w anchovies in them. 🤣

  54. Rachel says...

    I saw the book nerd mug and gasped at the thought of you suggesting I buy my co-worker a “bone” mug. Haha.

    • Brittany says...

      I definitely had the same thought!!! Haha.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha