Friday, September 29, 2006

Gifts for Students, Participants, or Attendees

While we're on the gift-giving subject, sometimes teachers like to provide simple, low-cost gifts for their students just to say "thanks" or to help the remember key lesson points or to celebrate certain holidays.

Here are some reliable web-sites where you can purchase token gifts items inexpensively or in bulk.

Magnetic Express (decorative magnets)
A Promotional Outlet (for larger quantities)
Oriental Trading Company (very inexpensive, even for small quantities)
Carnival Source (like Oriental Trading Co.)
Pin Mart (for lapel pins, lanyards, bracelets, etc.)
Crown Awards (for trohies, plaques, ribbons, and such)
Fun Express
Gifts in Bulk (for nicer gifts and favors)
Bulk Foods (for just about any food gift you can imagine)
Christian Book Distributors (great prices, especially on close-out gifts and bookmarks)
Making Friends
Educational Innovations
Visual Image Plus (for custom bookmarks)
Save on Closeouts (bulk liquidations and party supplies)

And for bulk teaching supplies, try these sites:

Really Good Stuff
Smile Makers (a division of Staples)

Also, don't forget about these perpetual discounters (stock changes daily):
E-bay's Wholesale/Bulk Lots (by category)
Christian Book Distributor's Gift Store Bargains

These are just some basic ideas. Maybe some of these web sites will springboard your creativity when it comes to showing your students how much you appreciate them!

'Til next time,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

It seems that many of you who visit this site are looking for teacher appreciation gift ideas (at least that's what my search-word stats tell me). And I'm glad. Teachers need to know they're appreciated.

Most of the teachers in our program know we appreciate them (at least I hope they do), and we try to let them know through several means:

1. We offer (and budget for) a teacher incentive program: if they complete certain training tasks, we purchase a teaching tool or resource for them at our expense (up to $25), It's our way of saying "thanks" for their hard work and investing in their growth and development as teachers.

2. We give thank-you gifts. They're not expensive and are truly just tokens of appreciation, but the teachers seem to value them. Here are just some of the things we've given over the years:

  • Plants (potted flowers, hanging baskets, single-stem roses, etc.)
  • Teaching idea books (to springboard creativity)
  • Devotional books (to encourage their hearts)
  • Leadership books (to encourage their roles as leaders)
  • Paper weights with fitting sayings (to remind them of some relevant truth or encouraging idea)
  • Bible memory-verse cards with decorative holders (for their reflection)
  • Mugs: you can give funny mugs or fancy mugs or inspirational mugs or teacher mugs--any mug consistent with your teachers' interests will do.
  • Food: fruit baskets, gifts baskets with teas, coffees, nuts, cheese/crackers sets, popcorn tins, home-baked goodies, prepared ready-to-make mixes with recipes (hot cocoa mix, soup mix, cookie mixes, etc.) packaged in mason jars or zip-lock bags, etc.
  • Reader gifts (book lights, book marks, etc.). Most teachers are readers.
  • Blank, lined journals and pens. Many teachers enjoy writing.
  • Gift certificates to restaurants, books stores, on-line sites (like amazon of CBD) or teaching supply places.
  • Decorative magnets
  • Hand-written thank-you notes (probably the most appreciated thing of all)

3. We host a once-a-semester Teacher Luncheon that we put on for the teachers at no cost to them. A few people volunteer to prepare food (something easy, like sandwiches or wraps or soups or quiches) and decorate a room (or host at a home), then we invite the teachers to come and enjoy a meal together just for fun (no agenda).

4. We try to support our teachers however we can: offering training events, making ourselves available to help as needed (with copying, or room set-up, or getting equipment set up, etc.) or to brainstorm ideas, praying for them, etc.

5. We recognize them and express our appreciation to them publicly once a year (at end-of-the-semester functions or other leadership meetings).

These are just some of the ways we've tried to let our teachers know how much we value them. Many of the things we've done we've been able to do at little expense (keeping our eyes out for gifts bargains, recruiting volunteers to make or provide things, hand-making treats or gifts, hand-writing notes, buying in bulk, etc.). Or sometimes the students go in together on gifts, everyone contributing just a dollar or two.

Be creative, and don't let cost be an issue. At the very least, hand write a thank-you note (a lost art these days). Teachers often serve thanklessly, so let them know you appreciate and value them. Your simple words of thanks may encourage them far more than you know!

'Til next time,


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Don't Forget Time to Be Still

Well, our Bible-study program is back in full swing, and September has been filled with the usual plethora of details to manage.

In the midst of our Fall hubbub, my dear hubby turned 50 years old, and to celebrate we took a day off for hiking.

I snapped this picture at Lake Jean, 2.5 hours or 130 miles northwest of here, just as we were preparing to sit down for a late afternoon lunch after six hours of strenuous hiking.

I thought this image captured well the spirit of Jesus' standing invitation to us to sit and sup with Him in quiet, stillness, and reflection. It represents rest and intimacy and conversation in the midst of what otherwise could be non-stop activity. It portrays rejuvination after hard work.

How long has it been since you or I have taken time to be quiet and still? How long since we've dined with our Savior?

I think the question is appropriate as we begin another semsester of service. In our busyness, let's not forget to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and to take time for renewal. Jesus did (Mark 6:32; 46), and so should we.

'Til next time,
Joan Posted by Picasa