Are you struggling to choose a gift for your child's teacher? Can't decide between booze, chocs or Chanel perfume? Maybe you have no money to spend or think you should give £100. It's difficult to know what to do. And then there's the rest of the class to consider.
Pooling a contribution from everyone to get something significant seems like a great idea, but stop there. Many schools now demand that teachers declare gifts over a certain value (it varies from £20 to £50) as an anti-bribery measure. Others make sure pricey presents aren't accepted and are either given away or thrown out. Worse, a large gift could be taxable. Gifts worth over £250, and/or in the form of vouchers (especially for a service like a spa weekend) are particularly vulnerable. A box of Dairy Milk looks like the answer - but wasn't that what you got last year?
A quick perusal online of what teachers would actually like to receive is surprisingly instructive. Many say they don’t want expensive stuff or shop-bought ‘Number One Teacher’ tat (especially not mugs!). A simple thank-you card is enough. Alternatively, something home-made (especially by the child) is prized. So here’s some lovely SMM ideas for the perfect teacher present. Warning: it may take some time to organise …
1. Photographic memories: Get every member of the class to email a photograph of themselves to you and create a photobook online (see www.photobox.co.uk, for example). If it’s too expensive, print out the photos yourself and stick them in a scrapbook.
2. Personalised stationery: You can get your teacher’s name emblazoned across pencils, pens and all sorts of teaching aids for less than £10. Check out www.etsy.com and www.notonthehighstreet.com. Also, jam jars of highlighter pens or Sharpies with a message (‘you’ve been the highlight of the year’ or ‘you made a mark’) could be winners.
3. A class hamper: Ask each child to contribute one food or drink item they think the teacher would enjoy. The hamper doesn’t need to be wicker: use a large cardboard box and get the children to decorate it.
4. Gift card bouquet: Get lots of different gift cards for small amounts of money (£10 or £20) from the class and attach each to a paper cut-out of a flower. Glue each to a stick, bundle together and wrap completed ‘roses’ in tissue paper. Splitting collected money in this way helps get around potential tax or declaration rules and is a bit more interesting than just handing over M&S vouchers. If you can’t afford the cards, get each child to write a thank-you and stick it to the flowers instead.
5. Ask first: If all else fails, ask the teacher what she or he would like. If the whole class clubs together, they could afford a large-ticket item like a fun deck-chair or a barbecue. Alternatively, if gifts are discouraged by the school, the teacher will give you a heads-up and you can think of something else.