Great Gifts for Teachers – Day 5 of Shopping with Pragmatic Mom

Some school districts (ours is one) have an outright ban on gifts for teachers. While I understand the reasoning (“Here’s a Birkin bag, Mrs. Smith, Thanks for the letter of recommendation for Jimmy”), and that the idea is to make all things equal – it is not my favorite rule (but I am a first born and a great rule follower so that makes it tough). Teachers are one of the most underpaid and overworked of all professions (Disclosure,  there are teachers in my family), and they should get some semi-decent swag for the hard work that they do. I also know that more often than not, teachers go out of pocket for special school supplies. So is handwritten card w/cookies enough or do you slip a gift card inside? If you do, and I won’t tell, try Sephora, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or iTunes.  Sometimes a group gift gets around the rule, so pony up and be the one that collects the money and buys the gift, assign someone else the task of getting the card signed by all of the students. More work for you but you will help out a helpless rule follower and make a teacher’s day.
Maybe you can give gifts with impunity, gift cards are still nice or you can give books or a gift card to a local store that carries supplies for school,  something related to their work (Art teacher – art supplies). What is always welcome: cashmere scarves, sweaters, gloves, socks – pretty impersonal and nice, too (include the gift receipt to be extra nice). Holiday decorations (Hanukah or Christmas) and candles, lotion sets, anything homemade (see Friday’s post),  notecards from Paper Source or journal from chronicle books

capability mom loves the flour cookbookPictured is a kid’s journal but I would love it – I would also welcome the new Flour Bakery cookbook (add some sweet wooden spoons or a whisk and stick them both in a mixing bowl). Works for me!

If you know the teacher is a baker, don’t shy away from spices – I love Penzey’s penzey's spices– the catalog is great but the store is better (in Arlington, MA) – I went there a really long time ago with the writer of Verbatim. It was deliciously aromatic and on the way home we passed Lakota Bakery (which I had read about but not tried) and we had to go in – as in I screamed, “Pull over the car!” We purchased many wonderful treats and I was actually swaying back and forth in joy while eating a particularly lovely butter and chocolate cookie that a couple ventured into the store because of my ‘happy cookie dance”.  I really like cookies. You can even order these delicious cookies -or a cake –  from Lakota Bakery and cut down on your baking list.

One last idea, a plant. Sure, you can do a poinsettia or a white amaryllis or some sweet paper whites. Sounds boring? Not this time of year in New England! Go get a nice orchid (Trader Joe’s has them as does Whole Foods) or a big gorgeous flowering tropical house plant (just be sure to cover it well when you run it outside). Nearby Garden centers will have a nice selection and you will get a dose of green while you shop.capability mom loves winstons flowers The amaryllis shown is from a favorite flower shop – Winston Flowers where they make the most gorgeous arrangements and have the best flowers (delivery and in store).

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Pragmatic Mom. Each day, please visit her blog to see the other half of each post. Thanks!

Friday, Dec 10: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Sat, Dec 11: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Sun, Dec 12: Personalized Gifts: Fancy Return Address Stampers and Personalized Stationery from Pixie Chicago

Mon, Dec 13: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Tue, Dec 14: Tutors/Teachers

Wed, Dec 15: High Tech/Low Tech

Thu, Dec 16: Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Fri, Dec 17: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

Sat, Dec 18: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)

Sun, Dec 19: Dog/Cat

Mon, Dec 20: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Tue, Dec 21: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies or what I’ll be eating as the Marathon goes past my house.

capability mom's chocolate cinnamon cookies for the marathonHere is an amazing chocolate cookie recipe. I have made it for teachers, friends and for just us. The first two times that I made them I did not beat the eggs for as long as directed (I am not a particularly precise person and this shows in my baking)  but the cookies were wonderful and people asked for the recipe.  In any event, this time I beat the eggs for 8 minutes and they were incredibly light and gorgeous (sort of like the Earthquake cookies at Sofra although I will not claim that level of wonderful). So, precise or not, these cookies are crowd pleasers.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies


  • 16 oz, bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar

Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth (you can also put in glass microwave safe bowl and start with one minute in the microwave – increase time by 30 seconds intervals until melted). Remove from over water, cool to lukewarm.

Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla in large bowl until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. (Note: Start beating eggs AFTER chocolate is melted because it takes about 16-20 minutes for chocolate to cool to lukewarm). Fold in melted chocolate. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions.

Chill dough until firm enough to scoop, about one hour.  Can be made one day ahead. cover, chill.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets. Shape dough by scant 2 tablespoonfuls into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops crack and cookies are just firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

go runners marathon signA beautiful day for the Marathon and we will be out there cheering on the runners.  Happy Patriot’s Day!

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