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I'm a teacher. Each year, I dig out the bag of Christmas tree ornaments I've received over the years from my students. I carefully hang up ornaments shaped like pencils, chalkboards, crayons, rulers, and the ones that say, “#1 Teacher!” I have snowmen holding apples, angels dressed as teachers holding apples, photo frame ornaments shaped like apples, and three ornaments featuring children gazing adoringly at a teacher who is holding, yes, an apple.

Last year, my husband said, “Our Christmas tree looks like a teacher store threw up on it.”

Needless to say, I don't need any more ornaments from my students. I also don't need any more coffee mugs or earrings shaped like tiny little school buses. Actually, I don't need any gifts at all. I truly love my job and feel blessed enough to be able to do what I love. But, being a parent myself, I know that children love to give gifts to their teachers, even in a poor economy.

So what can a mom do? Plenty! The following are some inexpensive gift ideas for that special teacher in your life that she, or he, is sure to love:

  • A plant. Plants freshen up the classroom, and they’re even more meaningful if it's a cutting from a plant you have in your yard or if it's something your child grew himself. Personalize the pot with stickers or paint to make it even more special.
  • Homemade baked goods. Yes, I know you've heard this before, but I'm telling you: We love them. Especially those of us who have children. It means we can give our own children homemade cookies without having to actually make them ourselves, or we can take them to a party and pretend we made them ourselves. The key here is the word “homemade”.
  • Advice. Kids say the funniest things. One of my favorite gifts was a book I received from my class when I was pregnant with my third child. It was full of advice about how to take care of a baby – written by second graders. I almost went into labor just from reading that book. Ask your child to write down her best advice about how to be a good teacher. It will entertain her teacher far more than any musical ornament ever could.
  • Books. No, I am not talking about any “Chicken Soup for Teachers” books. Please, no. Instead, get your child's teacher a book for the classroom. Picture books with holiday themes are terrific for elementary school teachers, such as books about Martin Luther King Jr. or Valentine's Day. Teachers of older students will appreciate books of funny poetry, such as anything by Kenn Nesbitt, or a copy of the latest Guinness Book of World Records.
  • School Supplies. By the time second semester rolls around, the children have worn out their markers, run out of paper, and broken all of their pencils – and so has the teacher. Believe it or not, a package of construction paper, a set of dry-erase markers, or even a blow-up globe or new world map will be mightily appreciated by any teacher–just make sure it doesn't have anything to do with apples!

This has been a guest post by April from Eagle Point, OR
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