11 Brilliant Gifts for the Teacher in Your Life

iStock
iStock

Few people play such an important role in young lives (and parents’ lives) as teachers. Whether they lead kindergarten or university classes, educators work tirelessly to serve their pupils—and don’t always get rewarded as well as they should. Give back this holiday season with gifts that are (mostly) classroom ready.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. A THANK YOU NOTE; FREE

iStock

Sometimes the best things in life don’t cost anything at all. Let your favorite teacher know how much they’re appreciated with a hand-written note. Chances are, they don’t hear it enough.

2. ART OF CARAMEL X DIME 100; $65

This sweet and salty gift box includes four different flavors of caramel corn, like Kentucky Bourbon Black Pepper and Honey Graham. Each flavor is designed to accompany the bottle of wine included, the Bordeaux-style 2015 DIME 100 red blend. Give it to one teacher who really needs a break, or split up the flavors between multiple teachers.

Find It: Winc

3. LIBRARY CARD TOTE BAG; $20

This cotton tote bag lets the wearer proclaim their love of reading and nostalgia for the analog catalog systems. It has a useful little pocket inside to keep keys or a cell phone accessible and it's perfect for carrying home heavy textbooks or lesson-plan binders.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

4. PERSONALIZED MOLESKINE NOTEBOOKS; $19 - $25 EACH

Taking down notes and making to-do lists can be a personal activity, and these notebooks reflect that. For an extra $5, they can be personalized with any text (up to 12 characters), giving you the opportunity to emboss them with a brief thank you note or the recipient’s name.

Find It: Moleskine

5. ALTER ECO SEA SALT TRUFFLES; $6

Sustainable, ethically sourced foodstuffs let you give delicious treats with no guilt. The dark chocolate in these gluten-free, organic truffles comes from Ecuador, and the sea salt from Guérande, France. They’re certified Fair Trade and are 90 percent cocoa.

Find It: Thrive

6. PERCY THE PENCIL PORCUPINE; $19

This porcupine-shaped pencil holder is both utilitarian and whimsical, letting your favorite educator show some desktop flair. It’s made from glazed clay and stands about 4 inches tall, with room to hold more than a dozen pencils.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

7. CLASSROOM SUPPLY PACK; $20 AND UP

Some teachers need classroom supplies more than they need trinkets and holiday sweets. Amazon’s classroom supply pack bundles together basics like pencils, art paper, notebooks, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, and glue sticks. Even if your favorite educator doesn’t need a new pair of scissors for their classroom, one of their deserving students might.

Find It: Amazon

8. JOTBLOCK; $15

With so many subjects, schedules, and student names to keep in their heads, you could forgive a teacher for being a little absentminded. Jotblock is both a desk organizer and notebook pad in one, and includes two pens, gold paper clips, and binder clips, ending the scourge of having to hunt down a pen to take down that latest thought or phone number.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

9. JANE BAKES; $8

Not your typical holiday cookies: These treats from Jane Bakes are low in sugar and high in fiber—but don't taste like it—so you won’t be adding too many sweets to a teacher’s already full pile. The mason jar containers give the cookies a more elevated vibe than traditional boxes.

Find It: Jane Bakes

10. FUND A CLASSROOM PROJECT; PRICE VARIES

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you really want to help out a classroom, give some cash to a local project on DonorsChoose.org, a site that allows schools and educators to crowdfund classroom projects. Help purchase computers or printers for the classroom, sound systems for dance classes, standard classroom materials, and more.

Find It: DonorsChoose.org

11. AMAZON GIFT CARD; PRICE VARIES

If you don’t know exactly what kind of supplies a classroom needs, leave it up to the teacher in question by giving an Amazon gift card. Whether they’re looking to fund an art project or just buy basic supplies for kids, they’ll be able to put the money to good use.

Find It: Amazon

25 Back-to-School Products That Earn High Marks

iStock
iStock

New school style: Whether you're starting college, shopping for the kids, or just want an excuse to treat yourself to new office gear, Mental Floss has you covered. Equip yourself or a loved one with these stylish and functional school supplies.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. COFFEE AND DOUGHNUT POST-ITS; $13

coffee and doughnut Post-its
Courtesy of Post-it

Add some flavor to your notes with the two-pack set of coffee and doughnut Post-its. Each of the 60 sheets is 3.20-by-3 inches.

Find It: Amazon

2. PACKIT FREEZABLE HAMPTON LUNCH BAG; $16

PackIt Freezable Hampton Lunch Bag, Blanket Stripe
Amazon

This spacious lunch bag is designed with a freezable lining, so it can be folded and placed in the freezer. When you're ready to take it on the go, it'll be ready to chill your food for hours. Bonus: It's also lead- and BPA-free.

Find It: Amazon

3. MONSTER REUSABLE SANDWICH BAGS; $11

Orange Monster Reusable Sandwich Lunch Bags
Amazon

Save the Earth and amuse little students with these reusable, dishwasher-safe bags. Each set of four includes two sandwich bags and two snack bags—all with an easy-to-grip opening.

Find It: Amazon

4. BENTO BOX FOR KIDS; $40

OmieBox Bento Lunch Box With Insulated Thermos For Kids
Amazon

This three-compartment bento box is roomy enough to fit a hearty, healthy lunch. The BPA-free container—available in five bright colors—is leak-proof, easy to open, and comes with a built-in thermos.

Find It: Amazon

5. LARGE MONTHLY PLANNER; $15

Large Personal Monthly Planner
Amazon

JStory's minimalist planner is made of thicker-than-average paper and includes a column for notes. And the blank design offers flexibility: You fill in the dates yourself.

Find It: Amazon

6. ORANGE LINED NOTEBOOK; $9

Rhodia Staplebound Orange Lined Notebook
Amazon

French brand Rhodia earned a strong following among artists and designers for its high-quality paper that's unbelievably smooth. The cover is sturdy so you can take notes anywhere.

Find It: Amazon

7. HONEYSTICKS BEESWAX CRAYONS; $23

crayons
Amazon

These sustainable crayons are made of 100 percent beeswax from New Zealand. (They smell like honey, too!) The thick shape is perfect for toddlers to hold.

Find It: Amazon

8. MOPHIE POWERSTATION XL; $66

external battery
Amazon

An external battery is a must for days when shuttling around campus from classes to clubs to rehearsals is unavoidable. This slim rose gold option has two USB ports and is compatible with both smartphones and tablets.

Find It: Amazon

9. CABLEKEEP; $13

Nice GLD-02 Goldie CableKeep
Amazon

This helpful gadget for iPhones holds both your power adapter and USB cable while keeping them tangle-free. It also functions as a stand for your phone when the Cablekeep is plugged into the wall.

Find It: Amazon

10. PARKLAND BAYSIDE KIDS' BACKPACK; $28

Parkland Bayside Kids Backpack
Amazon

Tote books in style with this eco-friendly backpack, featuring a polyester exterior made from recycled water bottles.

Find It: Amazon

11. LEGO BRICK BACKPACK; $50

LEGO Brick Backpack
Amazon

This whimsical statement backpack from LEGO features a padded handle and shoulder straps, so it's as comfortable as it is cool.

Find It: Amazon

12. HERSHEL NOVEL DUFFEL; $81

Herschel Supply Co. duffel
Amazon

Class up your gear with this stylish duffel from Herschel. It features a padded shoulder strap and a special compartment for those dirty cleats.

Find It: Amazon

13. ANTIQUE BRASS PHARMACY FLOOR LAMP; $50

Dawson Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Amazon

Overpower dim dorm room lighting with this brass floor lamp. Its height can be adjusted from 33 inches to a maximum of 55 inches, while the arm can be adapted to shine light at a variety of angles.

Find It: Amazon

14. EGYPTIAN COTTON TOWEL SET; $24

bathroom with towels
Amazon

This set of soft Egyptian cotton towels from Amazon's Pinzon brand includes two hand towels, two washcloths, and two bath towels—all listed as 100 percent cotton and at an affordable price.

Find It: Amazon

15. WHITE MARBLE MACBOOK KEYBOARD SKIN; $12

White Marble MacBook Keyboard Skin
Nordstrom

Protect your keyboard while adding a little luxury to your Macbook with this white marble keyboard skin.

Find It: Nordstrom

16. MAGNETIC CHALK BOARD; $18

chalkboard
Amazon

Get organized with this wood-framed chalk board, which comes with chalk and two vintage-style magnets.

Find It: Amazon

17. COFFEEBOXX SINGLE SERVE COFFEE MAKER; $230

portable coffee maker
Amazon

This ultra-durable single-serve coffee maker is great for the dorm as well as the campground. It's water- and dust-resistant and works with K-cups.

Find It: Amazon

18. TRAVEL MUG; $25

 Zojirushi SM-SA48-BA Stainless Steel Mug
Amazon

If you need java to survive, pick up this sleek vacuum-insulated travel mug, which features a splatter-free push-button lid. It's also lockable, so you won't be that person who spills coffee in class.

Find It: Amazon

19. SIX-PACK OF STACKING DRAWERS; $32

stacking drawers
Amazon

Stack these versatile transparent drawers to create a dresser so you can fit your huge wardrobe in your dorm room.

Find It: Amazon

20. FACETED TAPE DISPENSER; $7

gem tape dispenser
Amazon

This elegant copper tape dispenser will give your desk some class. It's also weighted, so you can grab with ease. (Roll of Scotch tape included.)

Find It: Amazon

21. COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE; $84

microwave
Amazon

Master the art of dorm room microwave cooking with this 1000-Watt model, featuring that all-important popcorn setting.

Find It: Amazon

22. SATEEN SHEETS; $18 AND UP

sheet set
Bed Bath & Beyond

These 400-thread-count sateen sheets feel silky to the touch: They're a simple way to make your dorm room feel luxurious.

Find It: Bed Bath & Beyond

23. TOUCHSCREEN MIST CLEANER; $10

Two-In-One Spray and Microfiber Cloth
Amazon

Use this screen-safe spray to remove dirt and fingerprints from your phone. It comes in a bottle that's coated with microfiber cloth so you can spritz and wipe all in one.

Find It: Amazon

24. MESH SHOWER BAG; $13

 Saltwater Canvas, LLC Zip Top Mesh Shower Bag
Amazon

No more feeling around outside the shower curtain for your shampoo. Take this quick-drying mesh shower caddy right into the stall with you.

Find It: Amazon

25. MINI FRIDGE WITH DRY ERASE BOARD; $250

 Igloo FR326M-D-BLACK Erase Board Refrigerator with Neon Markers
Amazon

Make your dorm room unique with this fun fridge that has a dry erase exterior and comes with neon markers so you can write notes directly on it. No paper and magnets needed. It also includes a freezer unit and ice cube tray.

Find It: Amazon

The Brilliant $20 Gadget That Will Keep Your Beach Umbrella Firmly Anchored in the Sand

iStock
iStock

Failing to properly secure your beach umbrella is more dangerous than you think. Tumbling, airborne umbrellas can be a safety hazard, with the potential to collide with beach-goers. Recently, a woman in Maryland was struck in the chest by one that was carried away by high winds.

Usually, it’s simply a matter of inconvenience—chasing a rogue umbrella is not how anyone wants to spend their day. Today recently broke down some preventative measures to help keep umbrellas secured, including using a rocking motion to bury it in the sand and making sure at least one-third of it is underground. You also want to tilt it into the wind so the gusts help keep it secured. 

The best way to avoid umbrella-related mishaps, though, is to opt for a sand anchor. These cheap-but-effective devices are like giant screws that bite into the sand for a much more secure fit. You then place the umbrella pole in the anchor. You can find the Beachr Beach Umbrella Sand Anchor, which fits all sizes of umbrella, for $19.97 on Amazon.

Experts like beach superintendents also advise you to consider taking down umbrellas if it's too windy and never, ever bringing a patio umbrella to the beach. With a larger surface area to catch wind, they can be extremely dangerous.

[h/t Today]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER