It’s that time of year again, end of school, when teacher gifts and other such presents are given to those special people in our children’s lives. To me, the thought of purchasing the “right” gift here in China is intimidating. If you’re a Room Mom, you have the added pressure of asking for/collecting money from other parents in the classroom (not always easy!), and then you often have to come up with the entire gift plan on your own.
I think one reason it’s tough is because you want to show enough appreciation for the person who teaches your child every single day. It’s a hard job, and they deserve kudos for a job well done. But since you might not know the teacher on a personal basis, discovering what they’d appreciate can be a bit of a challenge.
I did a very informal poll of people – including teachers – to find out what are some familiar ideas, some new considerations, and maybe what the teachers secretly wish you’d think of! Hopefully, it’ll help you come up with the perfect gift for your teacher this year.
1. Teachers seem to appreciate a money collection from the class for one nice collective gift. It may seem impersonal, but it will likely mean more representative of everyone in the class. Also, keep in mind that teachers will try to hang on to things that are easy to carry around from one post to another.
2. Have the teacher select classroom books at the book fairs throughout the year, and buy them on the sly. The students can sign them with a note to the teacher and give them all to him/her at the end of the year.
3. If the teacher is into any charitable cause, give a donation in his/her name. One suggestion was a panda reserve where you can name a panda cub.
4. Create a scrapbook with each child’s picture in it, and include quotes from the child about their favorite memory of their teacher/class/grade/etc. (or letters for older students).
5. Jewelry! Women often love jewelry – see if you can find out what they like to wear (you need to be observant throughout the year) and add to their collection.
6. Birthstone bracelets. Along with the above, jewelry can be easily and inexpensively made in China. Something to highlight each child in the classroom would include birthstones from each of their birth months, a rainbow of gems.
7. Does the classroom have a theme? Stars, animals, objects? Being creative with a collection that represents the class might be a nice gift.
8. Restaurant vouchers – If your teacher has a favorite cuisine or specific restaurant, see if a gift voucher is available there for a lovely date night or family night out.
9. Spa vouchers are an indulgence that some might not take the time to do themselves. If possible, keep the treatment open-ended so they can tailor-make the gift for them.
10. Trip vouchers might seem like a high price tag gift, but think about it. ANY head start on a vacation package is a welcome one, and a gift like that might give a nudge to the recipient to go ahead and make those plans.
11. Ok, vouchers are a pattern here. While I often wish for the endless gift card options back home, there are surprisingly many businesses that have or will create the gift vouchers you need. Think about coffee, movies, sports lessons, ice cream and more!
12. Homemade goodies are hard to resist. They are personal gifts from the heart, and they can be shared by family and friends, too.
13. Photo gift items from coffee mugs, playing cards, t-shirts, stand-alone picture frames, etc. can be a keepsake from the entire class.
14. The male teachers all desire “cool gadgety” things. Think unique electronics or a grand gesture from the Apple store.
15. There’s a “leather lady” in the Shunyi area that custom makes leather clothing and accessories such as jackets and bags – always an indulgent gift.
16. Visa gift card (or other such cash cards) available wherever the teacher’s home leave may be.
17. Bikes or biking gear – a necessity in Beijing!
18. One-of-a-kind artwork, IF you know the teacher’s taste.
19. A “For You and the Family” gift/voucher (such as restaurant or entertainment) and a “For You” gift/voucher (such as a spa). A nice nod to the teacher as an individual as well as something to share with others.
20. Christmas ornaments to create annual reminders of particular students/classes/
21. Bottles of wine with wine glasses.
22. Practical serving items such as water bottles, coffee mugs, spill-proof travel mugs.
23. Pampering beauty items – lotions, bath soaks, perfumes and more.
25. Keepsakes that are from the students as a unit, such as quilts with personalized squares, clothing items with handprints or messages, etc.
26. Personalized cards, letters, or any heartfelt words from the students themselves about what their teacher means to them. Everyone desires a little pat on the back and praise for their efforts, and teachers are no different in that respect!