Gift Ideas for Teachers

From Nathalie

We have featured Far & Wide Collective on the blog before, and I am so happy to keep suggesting them as a place to shop for gifts.  Far and Wide Collective is a fair-trade on-line marketplace for artisans in post-conflict and emerging economies.  I have bought for myself and for others from their site, and the delivery and presentation of the gifts is beautiful.  In December, I could not help myself and I did a “one for you and one for me” kind of shopping with these Afghan silk scarves ($60), which come in so many gorgeous colours.  They came beautifully wrapped in tissue paper folded like origami, all ready to present (or, um, open for yourself….).

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These geometric patterned notecards ($20) would also make a great end of year gift for a teacher.

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And I loved this post on how to write a thank you note to a teacher at the end of the year from fellow Savvy Mom Storyteller, Jan Scott.  I think you can never go wrong with personalized stationery for teachers, but what a special addition to make sure that you send along your own detailed thanks for the highlights of the year.

I’m nuts about stationery and books, and this gift idea makes me happy in so many ways: a bookplate stamp personalized for your child’s teacher.  From Etsy retailer Stamp Out Online.

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Or what about a great tote bag for your child’s teacher to carry around all his or her summer reading?  I love the bold impact of this one from Nicole Tarasick available on the One of a Kind site.

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From Beth-Anne

Nathalie is the best gift giver of anyone I have ever met. Receiving a gift from her is the ultimate! I once asked her how she always knows just the right thing to give and she told me her secret. She listens. She listens to what people are talking about, what people are planning and what people are saying. Hard to believe in a society where everyone seems to be tapping on their phones to post to their social media more than actually being social. So here’s my take on the perfect gifts to give teacher this year . . . first off, listen. Find out what their plans are for this summer and use that as a springboard to curate the perfect gift. It’s worth noting that the perfect gift doesn’t mean expensive or hard-to-find. It can be something simple or it can be a more elaborate group effort. Either way, it should be well thought-out and ultimately come from a place of sheer gratitude.

Here are few suggestions to help get you started:

The Foodie

This teacher can’t wait to sample the latest food trends on a patio, and has already planned supper club with friends to while away the summer. A gift card to a new resto getting rave reviews may be ticket but if this teacher prefers the prep to the pomp, then I would suggest one of these cookbooks.

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It’s perfect for the more unconventional cooks but beware, there are some naughty words that could get Teacher sent to the Principal’s office.

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Brown Eggs and Jam Jars is chock-full of gorgeous photos that make even me want to cook!

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Fellow Savvy Storyteller, Amy Bronee of Family Feedbag, recently published her much buzzed about book The Canning Kitchen – the perfect accompaniment to the bounty that summer gardens bring.

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This ash and wood salad bowl from Indigo is tops on my list. For some reason, I can never seem to have enough bowls and this one says “summer salads”.

But my favourite gift to give a foodie is something you’ve made. Baked goods, canned goods, pasta sauce . . . wrap it pretty and serve with your favourite how-to instructions.

The Traveler

This teacher has been meticulously planning their trip down to the nitty gritty details. Of course guidebooks are recommended but chances are this teacher has already highlighted and dog-eared every other page.

Literary travel books like We’ll Always Have Paris: A mother/daughter memoir are a great way to build excitement for a trip and supplement the facts gleaned from traditional travel books.
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Cookbooks featuring cuisine from the country is a way to whet the appetite for what’s to come. In the past year I have heard many travelers (and Paddington too) touting the glory of Peru. The Fire of Peru by Ricardo Zarate caught my eye.

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I also like the idea of getting a travel kit, like this one from Herschel, and filling it with all sorts of drugstore goodies like earplugs, sunscreen and bug spray.

The Binge Watcher

This teacher is going to score an A+ in relaxation this summer with plans of sinking into a vegetative state binge watching TV programs. My recommended favourite is Call The Midwife, granted not exactly up everyone’s alley so my second recommendation is True Detective.

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And you can’t score top marks for vegging without all the accoutrements. Gourmet popcorn is a must and while I have not tried this Toronto-based company, I just may have to because Tuxedo is calling my name!

From Carol

I have a strong practical streak and can’t shake the flawed practice of giving people what I like, so keep this in mind as you read on.  In a nutshell, I think giving soups in a jar is delightful. It’s giving both the gifts of nutrition and time, especially to one of our teachers who is also a single mom.  I love the idea of giving her what essentially amounts to a night off from cooking, but still having a pot of steamy nutrition bubbling on the stove.  You can make these easily enough, or Soup Girl has some wonderful options at the ready.

I’m not sure how helpful this is for a gift guide, but honesty will reign, so herewith goes a plug for handmade presents.  I really enjoy making things, often with my kids, and I try to involve them with all of our gift-giving.  Handmade cards make frequent rounds, and this year I will be gifting some natural cold-pressed soap that I made.

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One of our teachers is also a health buff and loves his protein smoothies… we drink smoothies around here so know a dedicated travel jar for them might be nice.  Maybe for the mornings when he’s racing to work to teach our littles?  (How hard could it be to make one of these…?)

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Finally a confession: I also tend to contribute to classroom gift cards for the teacher.  It’s easy, it works, and we do try to personalize them to the teacher’s interests.  Let summer come!

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Gifts for Her

Here’s what we are crushing on and hoping to see under the tree!

From Nathalie

I’m all about books and one of a kind crafts.  And anything with images of houses.  Especially these.  Made by Stoneware Studio.  Again, all I did was enter “houses” into the search box at Etsy.  It’s a playground out there, I tell you.

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If there is a woman on your list who loves her nails done right and likes a little sass with her spa, check out this new line of nail polishes from Trust Fund Beauty.  With shades like What’s a Budget?, this package has humour and good looks.  This is Kiss Kiss Darling.  Perfect for the holidays.

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I think manicured nails look wonderful wrapped around a tumbler of scotch, and I don’t think that the guys should get all the booze.  I’ve grown to love a really peaty scotch.  (Check out this website that tells you how to pronounce the names of various types of scotch.  So funny.)

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I also don’t think that the guys and the kids should get all the gadgets.

Beth-Anne and I had a tour of the new Blacks store at Yonge and Eglinton today, and we got a demonstration of this super-fun printer.  The Fuji Instax Printer ($199) allows up to eight people to wirelessly send photos to print, and out pops a little photo that develops in front of your eyes.  So much fun for a party, shower, or family gathering.

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After meeting Avery Swartz from Camp Tech, who helped us with some issues with our blog, I’m feeling a lot more empowered to experiment, play and learn with and about my devices.  The folks at Staples very kindly sent us this Samsung Galaxy Tab.  I am very excited to have gadget of my own!  I have big plans for this baby.  I do all of my blog posts at my desk and from my computer, because my phone is way, way, way too small for my aging eyes the vast scope of my creativity.  This should help a lot!

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From Beth-Anne:

I never seem to have enough totes and this sequin and linen maple leaf design from Indigo appeals to my Canadian spirit.  Indigo, $49.50.

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I love this mug so, so, so much because reading is sexy! Maybe someone ought to pass the message along to some of today’s pop-starlets that booties are out and bookmarks are in! Indigo, $10.00.

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I have been following Carrie Synder’s blog for years and loved her critically acclaimed book The Juliet Stories so when Girl Runner came out, I was anxious to get my hands on a copy.   Nominated for awards and praised by her fans this book is the perfect read on a snow-stormy day.  Need more convincing?  Read Nathalie’s review here.  Indigo, $19.76.

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Not everyone is a fluffy slipper kinda gal, so if you prefer a more glam look, these Ruby & Ed velvet bow ballerina slippers in dusty plum do the trick.  Town Shoes, Ron White and Shop Vincent, $70.

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Coffee table books can add an element of decor to your home, but if they are not absolutely enchanting, what’s the point?  Vogue and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People is full of glamorous celebrities, trendy fashionistas, stylemakers and icons.  Eye candy and inspiration! Indigo, $37.95.

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Personalized stamps appeal to anyone who loves stationery and/or organizing.  For the baker, the book collector and the monogrammed obsessed these personalized stamps go far beyond the standard return address stamp.  Available in a variety of styles, colours and fonts.  Pretty In Ink, pricing varies.

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Canadian jewelry designer Jenny Bird has caught my eye.  Her designs are reminiscent of ancient times and reference powerful goddesses and rulers, and a departure from the dainty pieces and glittery statement necklaces that dominate the boutiques.  Wear a Jenny Bird and feel bold, feminine and graceful. Jenny Bird, a variety of styles and prices.

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Bill Baker, the creator of Consonant , truly cares about what we’re putting on our skin.  His passion and commitment to creating safe and effective skin care is evident in his un-ending desire to learn more and improve upon his award winning formulas.  Start the new year off right and remember Consonant’s philosophy: what goes on your body, goes in your body.  Consonant’s Healthy Skin Detox For Face, $99.00. 

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The Mophie, a mobile battery pack to extend the daily life of your smart phone is the ideal gift for the social media junkie.  Available in a variety of colours but it’s this champagne colour that has made my wish list.  Mophie, Prices vary.

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A great gift for the cottager or the city dweller.  These hand-made vintage style map prints on pillows with 100% down-filled inserts are available with maps of Muskoka, Prince Edward County, Georgian Bay, Toronto and more.  County Cupboard $69.99.

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Don’t forget to stuff her stocking with all sorts of baubles and treasures.  Be sure to add Make Up Forever Artist liner.  The colour palate covers the range from basic black to deep plum.  Sephora, $24

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Socking Stuffers & More: For Her, Him and the Boys

Need some holiday gift-giving inspiration?  Here’s a round-up of some of my favourites.

For Her

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Come to Bed Red nail laquer

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EOS Pomegranate Raspberry Lip Balm

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Compact Mirror from Indigo

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Downton Abbey Series 1-3

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Personalized locket, holds two-three pictures, from Undine

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Gimme Brow by Benefit

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Hanky Panky 

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Nutella: The 30 Best Recipes

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Funny Sticky Notes

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Adult-size Onesie

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Handcream

For Him

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Where Chef’s Eat

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Thumbprint Cufflinks

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Slang Flashcards

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Anything from The Garlic Box

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Anything with the Hudson’s Bay stripes

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Men’s work week socks

For The Boys

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The Olympics are coming up!  Paint your own Babushka dolls.

imgres-4Scrabble Magnet Set

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Storm Troopers USB 

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Crayon Roll

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Support your favourite team with Fan Bands

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Make some music and build your own ukulele.

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Dragon Hands Temporary Tattoos

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Lego Erasers

In The Wake of The Christmas Tornado

Christmas hit this house like a tornado leaving in its wake a mess of wrapping paper, boxes and lots of new toys.   Before the holiday my boys purged their nest to make room for new loot and to give new life to their old favourites.  The boys readily donated their gently used toys to a local charity that was seeking donations.

The two weeks between Christmas and the return to school passed in a peaceful blur.  With no schedules dictating what to do, we enjoyed spending time together as a family and indulged in several pajama days playing with new toys, reading new books and over eating delicious food.

Some of our favourite gifts from the holiday:

Lego, Lego and more Lego . . . and some Playmobil too!

We spent several hours tediously arranging and re-arranging Lego and Playmobil sets.  The four-year-old has a vivid imagination and readily integrates the sets to create complex battles between swashbucklin’ pirates and the Queen’s knights.  It continues to amaze me how a set of plastic cubes can be the catalyst for learning about medieval history.  Together we spent many more hours thumbing through books about castles, catapults and cannons as well as searching Google for answers to the many, many questions that were sent my way about pirate life, scurvy and Egypt (because the natural transgression from Medieval life is mummies, tombs and pyramids!).

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The Boogie Board

A gift from Nana, these Boogie Boards have seen lots of use since being unwrapped on Christmas Day.  The Boogie Board is an LCD writing tablet that erases with the click of a button.  The four-year-old practiced his printing while the 6-year-old played Xs and Os with any willing (and some not so willing) participant.  I wrote the boys a goodnight message on each of their boards that first night, and since then they have been asking for one every night.

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Two Greedy Italians

I bought this book for my husband for Christmas – a fantastic cook who needs no help in the kitchen.  Tired of all the reality-based Food Network shows (where are you, Nigella?), we started watching Two Greedy Italians on TLN.  The pair criss-cross Italy, highlighting local fare that extends beyond spaghetti bolognese.  The beautifully photographed book makes a welcome addition to our collection of cookbooks (that I rarely use but love to admire).

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Cleaning Set

Remember the saying: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?  My two-year-old son lives up to my university nickname of “Monica” (the cleaning-obsessed, neat-freak character on the 90’s sitcom Friends).  This adult-like cleaning set comes with all the fixings required to give a home a good clean but sized perfectly for little hands.  This gift from his aunt and uncle are the perfect addition to his vacuum.

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Wii

Santa spoiled the boys (and cashed in his Shopper’s Optimum points) with the Nintendo Wii.  Is it wrong that the grown-ups in the house have gotten just as much satisfaction from this gift as the kids?  I never thought that I would say “family time” equals “video game time” . . . but a little bowling and some Just Dance 4 is a guarantee for lots of laughs.

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Top Ten Ways to Ensure You’re Ready For Christmas

One of the biggest problems with Christmas is that it tends to sneak up on you. There you are, having just finished the last piece of Hallowe’en candy, and BAM! It’s December and you haven’t purchased a single gift. Here are some easy-peasy ways you can ensure that you’ll be ready to put your feet up on Christmas Eve:

10.Convert religions. Stat.

9. Foment dissent among Santa’s Elves. Hire the deserters to be your own minions.

8. Start shopping earlier. Like, in January.

7. Leave your Christmas Lights up all year (Use red and white lights and they double as Canada Day decorations. Clever!)

6. Train your children to make hors d’oeuvres

5. Scrawl “Return to Sender” on Christmas Cards as they arrive. Saves time and postage!

4. Cook two turkeys at Thanksgiving.

3. Clone yourself

2. Pimp out the Elf on the Shelf

And the number one way to be ready for Christmas on time:

1. Everyone gets Chia Pets!

In all seriousness, it’s now three days before Christmas, and I’m indeed the creature stirring at all hours, trying to figure out how to bend time and space so that I can get everything wrapped, baked and ready for the weekend. I’m highly unqualified this Christmas to offer any sort of advice on time-saving, but I do know one thing: a sense of humour is crucial to getting through Christmas, or any other holiday, relatively unscathed. That, and wine. Lots of wine. Drink enough of it, and you’ll forget you had anything else to do!

From my house of chaos to yours: Merry Christmas.

Dear Santa

Custom Santa Suit, http://www.costumers.com

Image via Wikipedia

I fear, my red-suited friend, that your days are numbered around our place.

You see, I think the boys are on to you. They may be little, but they’re pretty savvy. Sebastian used his mad interrogation skills to get me to confess to being the tooth fairy today. Two days of questioning and I crumpled like wet cardboard.

While I was laying there, prone, Daniel piped up with, “Yeah, and I bet Mommy’s Santa, too!” Yeah, I know. How’d he figure that out already?

You’ll be happy to know that I shut down that conversation as fast as I could. I sent Daniel my best “not NOW” look, changed the subject quickly (my stock reminder to them to hand in their homework works well for many occasions) and sent them on their way to school. Crisis adverted.

I think. But I swear I saw a look of triumph in Daniel’s face. My insistence in your existence may now fall on deaf ears.

So Santa, if this is to be our last Christmas together, I have to admit something.

If the boys are savvy to you, if our explanation about the physics of how you can be present in multiple shopping malls at the same time no longer seems plausible, if I can no longer use your exhortation to “be good!” as a crutch (“if you don’t stop that I’ll call Santa!”) then I really won’t be upset. At all.

As you know, you’ve hardly been an active participant in our Christmases. They boys only ever get one gift per year from you. Growing up, I knew kids who got nothing for Christmas except the Toronto Star Christmas Box . And it struck me, even as a kid, that this seemed inequitable. Why would you give some kids multiple presents, and others…..just one. And so, as parents, we’ve tried to even the playing field, intending that along the way, we’d also teach them about gratitude (that gifts are given and accepted and not just conjured up as by magic, so the gift requires acknowledgement) and about how blessed they are to live as they do. It’s hard to teach them to be gracious and modest about their blessings when Santa spoils them, but not other kids.

We’re not unimaginative grinches. We acknowledge the joy and magic that you bring to Chrismas each year. I once had a friend who refused to tell her kids about Santa, since she didn’t believe in lying to them. That always seemed to me to be a bit disingenuous. Parents lie to their kids all the time. I lie to mine when it’s necessary, to keep them safe, protect their innocence or get them to the dinner table. So we’ve willingly fostered a belief in your existence, brought the kids to see you, written you letters, and allowed the boys to be kids, to believe in your magic. And who knows? Maybe you’ll get letters from my boys this year, and I hope you’ll forgive their spelling mistakes.

But if not, please don’t be too upset. I’m kind of looking forward to a different understanding of what Christmas means. I love giving gifts. I love to spoil my boys – I really do, and I admit that we do spoil them at the holidays. But when we take our boys to buy a gift to donate to children who have less than them, when we teach them about charity and giving and volunterism – all things we feel are so important, it will be nice not to have to continue to explain how you fit into all this.

Merry Christmas, Santa.

Marcelle.