Each holiday season, there are plenty of "little" gifts you need to secure. "Little" is a misnomer. More often than not, these "little" gifts are for folks who help the world go 'round. Teachers, mail deliverers, music instructors, care providers, co-workers, neighbors.....the list goes on and on.
I have a lot of friends who are teachers. I listen to them. (Heck, I admire the fool out of them. They have chosen a career I know I am not meant to do.) One thing they have drilled into me: teachers do not expect gifts. They do not expect families to spend money on them. If a family feels compelled to present them with a gift, it doesn't need to be expensive.
RULE #1: Small gift cards are GREAT!
A $5 gift card can be great! Coffee drinker? Local coffee shop or Starbucks - whatever is closer to the school. Target? A teacher can ALWAYS find something at Target. Local grocery store? Everyone need to make a quick grocery run every now and then on the way home from work. Select a store near the school (preferably on the quicker route away from school). While it may seem boring to grab a $5 gift card to a generic store, we all run in and out of these stores and that is $5 they don't have to spend out of their pocket!
RULE #2: No coffee cups full of candy!
Apparently teachers get LOTS of coffee cups full of candy. They don't need anymore.
RULE #3: Homemade food is nice, but can be creepy.
This one was hard for me to wrap my head around UNTIL a teacher explained it to me. It is great that people want to share food with them. There are people who have issues with eating food prepared by people they don't know well. I can respect that. Keep it in mind when you are preparing food as a gift.
Additional gift options for teachers and others:
Levenger offers a variety of games during the holiday season. Many are moderately priced, such as: Story Cubes, Literary Charades, Ever After Memory Game, Orijinz, Tell Tale, Spot It, Name Chase, or Zip It. (There are more great educational games to consider for the offsprings and others on the gift list too.) My absolutely FAVORITE little gifts/teacher gift/stocking stuffer are book bungees.
Penzey's has some great spice boxes for small gifts: Kind Heart, Mini Gift Box, Grill and Broil Mini Gift Box, and Baking Mini Gift Box.
If you want some food treats to include, there are a wide variety of holiday options available at: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Earthfare, and many local grocers. I have found nice bowls and containers at Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx (not coffee mugs!).
Have fun. Be creative. Most of all, enjoy the act of giving!