1. A Note of Thanks: This and only this. Sit your child down and have them write a real, honest to goodness thank you. Have them write a rough draft. Check it over with them. Ask them for specifics. Have them handwrite it in pen. Double-check for spelling and punctuation. Have them sign their full name. These are the things we keep, year after year, for always.
2. Fancy Hand Soap: And by fancy, I’m talking anything prettier than the 98¢ stuff. This is without a doubt the number one gift that goes on giving in my classroom — it makes our sink space more pleasant, the room smell more lovely, and hand washing all the more regular. There’s just something about the school-issue, commercial grade soap that lends itself to some kind of sadness, but thanks to the good fortune of biannual student gifts, we’ve kept off the stuff for two years and counting. (We just replaced the last of a lemon basil with this season’s offering of a pomegranate argan oil blend and the classroom cheer is off the charts.)
3. Cheerful Thoughts: The subtitle for this OrangeArt Press edition runs “For the Robust, the Ragged, and the Recuperating,” which sounds suspiciously like the rallying cry in the staff room these days. It’s a favorite of my family’s for those days you might need a pep talk from the likes of Thoreau, Whittier, or Louisa May (“Now I am beginning to live a little, and feel less like a sick oyster at low tide.”)
4. Morning Tea: I keep my classroom cupboard stocked as if all of Buckingham Palace might show up for 4:00 scones, but only because one small steaming cuppa can go a very very long way on a school day — especially a throat-soothing lemon/ginger blend for that teacher voice strain. Clipper Lemon & Ginger (UK only) // Cat Mug // Marbled Mug (vintage).
5. Snazzy Scotch Tape: Another entry in the completely practical category, while bringing a dash of good cheer to the classroom. Post calendars and notes on the wall with something that doubles as adorable.
6. Pretty Pens: The grading experience takes on new joy at exponential levels when you take those blasted plastic Bic pens out of the equation.
7. Gift Card: Ten bucks at the closest craft store gives us the perfect excuse to make excuses for that liquid gold leaf on our next art project without worry over a classroom budget (Thanks, Joshua!). A few dollars at the local bookshop make for a gloriously guilt-free browse and cozy Christmas dreams come true. (Last year I curled up with The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I’ve already got plans for Madding Crowd this Boxing Day. Thanks, Sean! Thanks, Kathryn!)