Monday, December 8, 2014

Gift Guide for Caregivers

Gift Guide for Caregivers

I was chatting with one of my best friends recently, and she commented that a lot of her parent friends are on the look out for gift ideas for the people who help them care for their children. I love this idea, and I thought I'd play along!

Art: When I was a teacher in the Bronx, I had no money. I mean zero money. I remember one of my dear friends who was living off the City Year stipend, who also worked in public schools for her assignment, who used to eat leftover ramen. Art was a luxury we could not afford. I would have loved a piece of framed art like this, a beautiful calendar-or a gift card to buy something of my choice. Or what about something beautiful and festive for their home like these lights?

A useful item related to something they love to do (could also combine with a gift card to a related store or restaurant): what about
a gorgeous set of gardening gloves for the caregiver with a green thumb or an edible seed wreath for the babysitter who has taught your child the names of all the birds around, a tasting box from Hatchery for the foodie, or this incredible book for the bread baker.

Christmas Tree Memory Game: use pictures of your babysitter, teacher, or a grandparent as well as pictures of your child. Sit down together and teach your child how to play.

A gift from somewhere they've lived or visited and loved: Zabar's NY-centric gift baskets come to mind, or a state shaped cutting board, a best selling cookbook of Mexican food or New Southern cuisine.

Mini Storybook of Names: create with pictures of the two of them together and of the child's favorite people, too. Could also be a gift for child that you leave for the bedtime story the next time the caregiver is over.

I once had a neighbor who had been a nanny for many families over her life. She had pictures of the children that she cared for in her home as well as of her own children. While I think a huge picture of your child is over-the-top, a little frame one, especially if it includes the two of the, along with something else (like a gift card, bottle of wine, scarf, warm slippers...) could be really sweet.You can always have your child sign the glass of the print or even write a note on the back.

A luxurious, cozy gift for the reader or anyone who lives where it gets cold. Many caregivers won't be able to buy themselves cashmere, but you could.Ask your child to design a handmade tag to attach to it.

Gift cards are not off limits! Some of my favorite gifts as a teacher, tutor, and nanny for years were gift cards. The ones that work like credit cards are great, but better are the ones where I actually spent money like Amazon, Target, the movies, or generic places like Macys or Nordstrom. Put it in a paper bag and let your child go to town decorating it.

Also, don't shy away from gifts related to working with kids. It's not all of who they are, but teachers and caregivers love kids. A gift like Laugh Out Loud Jokes for Kids might be a hit! Have your child inscribe it, sign it, or stamp it with a footprint or hand.

I often think back to the funniest gifts I was given as a teacher. One was a set of shelves. Or hair straightening lotion. Another was a half burned candle with the body of Jesus on it (head had melted...), and, finally, a red thong with a cut out heart that came to me wrapped up in a fake rose. So whatever you give, give from the heart. Because those shelves came to me with a big smile, and I loved them...except the thong. That was just creepy.

Photography: Lauren Modny Photography
Party Styling:Love Always Hannah
Stylist: StartCloseIn

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