It’s that time of year again, when we are thinking about what gifts to give teachers to thank them for being so amazing with our darling children. I decided that our teachers probably have enough mugs and chocolates long ago, so decided we would opt for handmade gifts and charity cards, and sometimes our classes collaborate on a special group gift.

Alongside selecting the teacher gift is the task of coaxing children into writing Christmas cards for their friends. Once they do write them, and receive them in return, they appreciate the effort that has been put in. But I have to ask, why do some parents insist on sticking candy canes and chocolates to the envelopes?

Firstly, most kids don’t like candy canes anyway!

Secondly, the half eaten, sticky ends inevitably get dropped somewhere, typically in the car, and the ensuing warm summer days set it into a gooey-peppermint smelling, sticky mess for frustrated parents to later discover and prise off. Or the chocolate santa will be forgotten, and then melt in their pocket or school bag, attracting ants and creating an even bigger mess.

Thirdly, do they really need the sugar and fat? Must we associate Christmas with even more junk? How did foiled-chocolates in the shapes of little balls (closely resembling Easter eggs) become a Christmas product – I think marketers snuck up on us with them! It is already the silly season, children are already excited and they will get enough Christmassy over-indulgence over the whole month of celebration. It’s not ‘just one more’ when 80% of the places we go are handing them out.

Our children have been fortunate enough over the past few years to receive some really thoughtful little trinkets as token gifts from their friends.

Some token gifts received or given include a:

  • personalised special message written by the giver in the recipient’s card,
  • little bauble glued with glitter,
  • small decoration in the shape of the recipient’s first initial,
  • hand-made felt finger puppet,
  • reindeer food (tinsel, oats, glitter in a little bag with instructions),
  • small bag of marbles, chalk, string and instructions for classic games
  • little book,
  • multi-colour pen,
  • toy car,
  • pencil with a decorated pom-pom topper,
  • eraser
  • pencil and note-pad,
  • home-made green and red playdough,
  • Christmassy hair elastics,
  • hand-made beaded bracelets.

None of these gifts were expensive, and all of them were enjoyed more and longer than a lolly or chocolate. The internet is full of great little craft and gift ideas, just search google or pinterest.

So this Christmas, as you think about whether to stick a small gift to your child’s friends’ Christmas cards, please consider if there is something inedible, inexpensive and more enjoyable that the children will like. The extra thought and message you send to others will be worth it.

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