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. The Art of Caramel

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—a 2016 Dime Red Blend from Sonoma, California. Give it to one teacher who really needs a break, or split up the flavors and hand them out to several teachers.

Find It at Winc for $50.

3. Library Card Tote Bag

This cotton tote bag lets the wearer proclaim their love of reading and nostalgia for 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 at Uncommon Goods for $20.

4. Personalized Moleskine Notebooks

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 at Moleskine for $20 and up.

5. Hot Chocolate Sticks

Three hot chocolate sticks
Amazon

Available in dark, milk, and white chocolate flavors, these hot chocolate sticks are a great no-fuss treat for busy teachers. All they have to do is swirl one around in hot milk for one or two minutes to make delicious hot chocolate. The six-pack gift box has two of each flavor and comes wrapped in a brown bow.

Find It at Amazon for $14 and at these other retailers:

6. Percy The Pencil Porcupine

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 at Uncommon Goods for $19 and at these other retailers:

7. Classroom Supply Pack

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 at Amazon for $40.

8. Great Quotes from Great Leaders Boxed Calendar

Great Quotes for Great Leaders Calendar
Amazon

Bring some inspiration to the classroom by gifting your teacher this 2019 calendar. Each day of the year features a different quote from one of the world’s foremost leaders and thinkers, from Mahatma Gandhi to Thomas Jefferson to Queen Victoria. They’ll hopefully learn something new, and their students will, too.

Find It at Amazon for $7.

9. 2019 Wildwood Planner

Front cover of the planner
Rifle Paper Co

A brand new planner is a great way to get a fresh start. Help your teacher gear up for 2019 with this beautifully crafted planner, which features a floral pattern on the cover and gold-colored accents throughout. It’s filled with inspirational quotes, a pocket in the back, and perhaps most excitingly, three sheets of stickers.

Find It at Rifle Paper and Co. for $34 and at these other retailers:

10. Fund A Classroom Project

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 at DonorsChoose.org.

11. Amazon Gift Card

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 at Amazon.

Microwave Your Food Safely With This Soft Silicone Lunch Box

ParentDiary
ParentDiary

Even if the contents of your lunch are healthy, the container you pack it in may pose a threat to your health. Heating up some plastic food storage containers can release harmful chemicals, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics warns families to avoid putting such products in the microwave or dishwasher. (And there's still some debate as to what constitutes a microwave-safe plastic.) But the All-Silicone Lunch Box, a storage product currently raising money on Kickstarter, is strong enough to stand up to a range of temperatures, allowing you to safely put it in the freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher.

This lunch container is made from silicone instead of plastic, making it a safer choice for kids and adults. The flexible box is easy to seal, open, and wash (either by hand or in the dishwasher). And whether you're using it to store leftovers in the freezer or heat up your lunch in the office kitchen, the All-Silicone Lunch Box is designed to maintain its shape and not leech anything unsavory into your food.

After originally releasing a single-compartment box, ParentDiary has now developed a lunch box with dividers, too. The container is now available with three compartments (perfect for snacks or bento boxes), or two compartments (with each side just big enough to fit half a sandwich).

The All-Silicone Lunch Box has over a month left to reach its $4000 funding goal and has raised $1000 so far.

Pledge $12 or more on Kickstarter by May 19 to reserve your own lunch box, with shipping set for June. For more packed lunch inspiration (including some other great silicone options), check out these products.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and 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!

13 Products to Keep You Dry on Rainy Days

Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

April showers bring May flowers … plus soggy shoes, wet hair, and dripping, broken umbrellas. If you’re looking to stay dry this rainy season, consider picking up some of this gear.

1. Bogs Auburn Boot

These are a rare find: Rain boots that are both functional and cute. Bogs gave us a pair to test out, and we’ve been tempted to wear them even when it isn’t raining. The Chelsea-style ankle-high boots have a slight heel and a zipper so you don’t have to awkwardly try to stuff your feet into them. They’re 100 percent waterproof, equipped with moisture wicking technology to keep feet dry (and stink-free!), and have a slip-resistant outsole. And thanks to gel cushioning in the footbed, they’re super comfortable. (The men’s version, available for $70, is also waterproof and is available in three colors.)

Buy it on Bogs for $120 or from one of the retailers below:

2. Levi’s Women’s Faux Leather Anorak Jacket

A woman in a maroon rain jacket

Levi's, Amazon

This hooded, rubber faux leather anorak jacket comes in 11 colors; it has zipper and button closure, plus adjustable cuffs, to keep the rain out. One reviewer described the coat as “practical yet stylish.” The best part? It’s machine washable.

Buy it on Amazon from $39 or at one of the retailers below:

3. Levi’s Men’s Rubberized Parka

A man in a black faux-rubber jacket

Levi's, Amazon

Levi’s also makes a rubberized parka for men that comes in three colors.

Buy it on Amazon from $72.

4. Sharpty Inverted Umbrella

An open green Sharpty umbrella next to the same umbrella as it looks folded up

Sharpty, Amazon

This highly rated umbrella opens in reverse—so when you close it, water stays firmly inside and doesn’t get all over you or the floor—and it's designed to withstand bursts of wind up to 60 mph. Made with carbon fiber and equipped with a C-shaped handle that makes holding and storage easy, it’s available in a staggering 26 patterns/colors, ranging from plain old black to the New York City skyline. And it’s big enough to fit two people underneath.

Buy it on Amazon starting at $16.

5. Drybrella

Two Drybrella bags next to a backpack and a purse with umbrellas wrapped in Drybrellas inside

Drybrella, Amazon

These polyester pouches—which accommodate umbrellas up to 12 inches long—are lined with microfiber so you can stash wet umbrellas in your bag or backpack without getting everything else wet.

Buy it on Amazon for $10 for two or at Walmart for $9.

6. Waterproof Elastic Gardening Headwear

A woman wears a hands-free umbrella on her head

MAGIFIRE, Amazon

Perhaps you hate when the wind blows your hood off, or maybe you want a moisture-free perimeter to keep the stuff in your hands dry. We’re not here to judge, merely to provide you with a product that could help solve your problems. This 36-inch-diameter hat has an adjustable headband and folds down to 10 inches for easy stowing. Its top layer is also reflective, which means you can wear it when you’re working in the sun, too.

Buy it on Amazon for $13.

7. Columbia Men’s Watertight Cap

A waterproof black cap

Columbia, Amazon

If elaborate headwear isn’t your thing, this nylon hat—which comes in three colors—will also work.

Buy it on Amazon or at Columbia Sportswear for $25.

8. Lightspeed Outdoors Sport Shelter

A blue and gray pop-up shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors, Amazon

If you find yourself at many of rain-or-shine events, considering picking up this pop-up shelter. At nearly 9 feet wide and almost 5 feet tall, it has enough space to fit four friends, and it’s equipped with sun protection and a PU coating, so it’s appropriate for both sun and rain. And it packs down small (49 inches by 5 inches) for easy storage.

Buy it on Amazon for $80.

9. Harry Potter Crests Color Changing Umbrella

A black-and-white and a colored version of the Harry Potter umbrella

Bioworld, Amazon

This officially licensed Harry Potter umbrella features Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff house crests and changes color when wet. The company also sells a Marauder’s Map-themed umbrella as well as a Hogwarts-themed one and one decorated with magical creatures from the world of Harry Potter.

Buy it on Amazon or Walmart for $17.

10. CloudTen Helmet-Shaped Umbrella

A woman peeks out from under a CloudTen umbrella

CloudTen, Amazon

In addition to looking a bit like Darth Vader’s helmet, this umbrella’s design makes it virtually impossible to blow inside out, even in the windiest weather. It’s also a good option for city dwellers—you’re less likely to take another pedestrian’s eyes out!

Buy it at Amazon for $23.

11. Mini Umbrella

A diagram of the size of the pocket umbrella open and folded up

Fidus, Amazon

There’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain without an umbrella—so pick up one of these ultra-small (just 6.6 inches) umbrellas and carry it with you at all times.

Buy it on Amazon for $15.

12. Alex Carseon Multi-Purpose Tray

Four images of the Alex Carseon multi-purpose tray being used to store boots, gardening tools, a bucket, and cat food

Alex Carseon, Amazon

Keep muddy boots and shoes contained with this polypropylene tray, which measures 30 inches long and 15 inches wide.

Buy it on Amazon for $17.

13. Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover

An Osprey rain cover folded up

Osprey, Amazon

Available in three sizes, this cover wraps around packs and equipment to keep them dry. It's equipped with reflective elements (which is especially helpful if you're biking), a cinch attachment, a hipbelt, and harness attachments—plus, it packs down small, so you can easily fold it back into your bag when the rain clears up.

Buy it on Amazon from $30 or at one of the retailers below:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and 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!

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