Tag Archives: Christmas

5 Gifts for Teachers that are not Starbucks Gift Cards

It’s the holiday season and amid the excitement and final exams, many people are thinking about what to give their own teachers or those educating their children. Now, first and foremost, as a teacher I must say that we do not expect or demand gives from our students or student’s parents. When we do get them, we are quite touched. That being said, I’m often asked by friends and families what to get the teachers in their life that aren’t just “another Starbucks giftcard!” Don’t get me wrong, Starbucks gift cards have fed my caffeine habit for many years, but I realize that some want to be a little more personal in their gift giving. Here are a few ideas for gifts for the teacher in your life.


Educators love to read! If your student is in a subject specific class (think science or history), a book on that topic is great. As a US History teacher, my students have kept me in David McCullough books for years and I love them. If you need a little inspiration, try the New York Times Best Seller list. If you know the teacher has an eReader and you have a little extra change to throw around, consider a Kindle Unlimited gift subscription.

Gourmet Coffee

Instead of the Starbucks gift card, if you know you have a coffee drinker, consider a nice coffee mug (even one personalized by your child) and an assortment of gourmet coffees. I got this one year and it was fantastic! I was pretty upset the year the mug broke.

Event Tickets/Passes

These can be surprisingly inexpensive and lovely personal gift for a teacher. Are they a coach? What about tickets to the local professional or college game? Music teacher? Tickets to the local symphony. Annual passes to local art, science, and history museums also make a great gift. Even passes to go to a movie are a wonderful treat for an educator; you can often pick these up on a discount at Costco or the movie theater itself. If you have a few extra dollars, consider giving them a MoviePass gift subscription. These gifts show the teacher that you know they need some well deserved leisure time.

Extra School Supplies

This one may seem boring, but trust me it’s one of the best gifts you can give. Educators often buy school supplies out of their own pockets and mid year (the holiday season) is when they start to run low. Sending in extra reams of paper, pencils, pens, tissues, and whatever else was on that “back to school” supply list you got in the fall will be valued you like gold. You’ll be saving your teacher’s pocket book and brightening the learning experience for others.

A Hand Written Note

I cannot stress this one enough. The most thoughtful and treasured gifts I have received from students were thoughtful, hand written notes. I keep them in a drawer and pull them out to read periodically. If your child is old enough to write, ask them to list two to three things they really enjoy about the teacher’s class and what they have learned. Trust me, long after your gift has been forgotten, this one will be treasured.

I hope that you and your have a wonderful holiday season! To the other educator’s out there, finish strong!

Wicked Children Beware of Krampus!

Krampuskarten, courtesy of Wikimedia

Krampuskarten, courtesy of Wikimedia

While American children fear a stocking full of coal, German children learn to behave to avoid being snatched and eaten by Krampus! Featured on German “Krampus Cards,” Krampuskarten, he frightens young children into behaving during the Yule season.

To learn more about this frightening consort of Saint Nicholas, check out the article on the Smithsonian or the Wikipedia Article!

Pagan roots? 5 surprising facts about Christmas

When you gather around the Christmas tree or stuff goodies into a stocking, you’re taking part in traditions that stretch back thousands of years — long before Christianity entered the mix.

Pagan, or non-Christian, traditions show up in this beloved winter holiday, a consequence of early church leaders melding Jesus’ nativity …

Pagan roots? 5 surprising facts about Christmas.

Dormice & Other Saturnalia Gifts


Roman Dice Players from Pompeii courtesy of Wikimedia

December 23 marks the end of the Roman festival of Saturnalia, a celebration during which gifts were exchanged, debts forgiven, and drunken shenanigans ensued.

It was one of the longest and most opulent festivals of Ancient Rome – many of its traditions enduring the adoption of Christianity and seen in the celebration of Christmas.

Today, the History Girls Blog highlights some of the most popular (and sometimes odd) gifts exchanged at this time of year in their post: “Dormice and Other Saturnalia Gifts.”

Christmas Truce in No Man’s Land – December 1914

Men from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers meet their German counterparts in no man's land somewhere in the deadly Ypres Salient, December 26, 1914. (Smithsonian Magazine)

The famous (and at one time infamous) story of the Christmas Truce of World War I is one of the most indelible and inspiring stories in history. In December of 1914, a group of Germans in the trenches of “No Man’s Land” lit festive fires in their trenches, began singing Christmas carols, and sending wishes of a “Merry Christmas” to their adversaries on the other side.

In spite of its inspiration, the event (at the time) was highly controversial and a military logistical nightmare:

Their truce–the famous Christmas Truce–was unofficial and illicit. Many officers disapproved, and headquarters on both sides took strong steps to ensure that it could never happen again.

Later, in a letter home, an English soldier recorded the event in detail for his family:

‘Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.’ For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity—war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn—a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired.

To read more about the famous Christmas Truce, see the article on the Smithsonian Blog.

My Students Brighten Up My End of Semester – With Holiday Cheer

Any teacher can tell you that the end of the semester is always a struggle – rushed deadlines, end of semester grades, students that can smell the winter break around the corner, in addition to all of your own at home stress and focus. Apparently, forcibly drugging children is considered “wrong” and “illegal” by some people, so we have to push through it.

Today, two of my students reminded me why I love my school (and the kids that I teach). Today, during lunch, two of my kiddos decorated my office with some holiday cheer! It gave me the extra shot to get through… at least the next 24 hours.

Christmas Tree & Handmade Garlands

More hand-made Garlands

Handmade Icicles