Nfld. & Labrador

$20 Lady: No more knick-knacks, no more mugs; good gifts for teachers

Columnist Dara Squires has bargain-focused ideas for Christmas gifts that teachers will truly appreciate.

I have a motley assortment of friends and acquaintances. Coincidentally, a lot of them are teachers.

From the tattooed activist education student to the prim and proper parlour-curled retired school teacher, their response when asked “what’s a good Christmas gift from a student?” was pretty unanimous.

At least in what not to get.

Christmas ornaments, mugs, knick-knacks: just say no.

That “world’s greatest teacher” apple-shaped ornament is just an obvious present choice! And for those of us who can’t afford Hallmark presents, the dollar store has a wealth of fun mugs. Parenting blogs the world over abound with ideas for teacher-presents that involve decorating or filling a mug.

Unless this is the teacher’s first or second year, they already have full shelves.

So what to give? And especially, what to give on a budget?

Feeling good about being so cheap

Once again, I attempted the impossible: three teacher presents for $20. This was my hardest challenge yet — not in terms of finding something, but in feeling good about being so cheap.

A Tim Hortons gift card and a bath bomb can team up to make a lovely Christmas gift for a hard-working teacher. (Dara Barrett)

If I could afford it, each of my children's teachers would get a day at the spa. As it is, I haven’t even had a haircut in over a year, so that extravagance is a little outside my budget.

Although, the other thing I heard from the teacher-friends I asked? A lot of them think parents spend too much on their gifts.

The best gift I ever gave was a give-what-you-can class gift. Parents put money in an envelope kept in the school office and wrote their name on the outside.

I don’t know how much each family gave, but I do know that we were able to buy my son’s two junior kindergarten teachers a day at the spa and a luxury spa basket from all the parents.

These may not look so great right now, but they will smell awesome when they're finished shower disks. (Dara Barrett)

It’s a great idea if you know your kids’ classmates. Going in on a quality present is better than settling for something unsuitable that you can afford.

This year, though, I can’t do that. So after polling my friends, I settled on their second choice: Tim Hortons gift cards. [I'll get to their first choice soon enough.]

Tim's cards are convenient and generally go over really well. Three $5 cards are $15.

With that, I added sparkly Christmas bath bombs I got on sale last year for the rock-bottom price of 3 for $1.

A disk drive

I also made “shower disks," which are basically baking soda and water hardened into a disk and then “flavoured” with an essential oil. The baking soda was $1.49.

'Tis the classroom cold season, so to help the teachers’ health I used an immune-boosting essential oil blend that I have on hand and the few drops worth I used probably cost about 50 cents.

The disks dissolve and release their aromatherapy while you shower. It's a great gift for those Monday morning blahs.

You might be wondering what my teacher-friends' first choice was.

I can’t imagine why a classroom of screaming, sneezing kids would inspire such a desire, but the overwhelming response was alcohol.

I’m never comfortable giving alcohol to people I don’t know well, but a couple mini bottles and a pack of hot chocolate makes a great kicked-up Christmas treat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dara Squires is a single mother of three, working, living, and scraping by in St. John’s.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now