Say thank you to your childcare providers with any one of these extra special gift ideas—for a year of extraordinary circumstances—sure to bring a smile to their face.
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It's safe to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. Americans, reeling from a pandemic that's completely altered their sense of normalcy, are just getting back to their everyday lives. For many parents, that means resuming a more regular work schedule and sending kids back to school and daycare. For child care center owners and teachers, that means adopting even more thorough safety measures—including modified drop-offs and pickups, temperature screening, extra sanitizing, and frequent hand-washing—all in an effort to do their jobs and take care of our kids.

Sundays nail polish, Drunk Elephant B-Hydra serum, Hydro Flask, Ugg slipper
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Amazon (4)

In a time of uncertainty, parents can feel secure with their choice of child care. While many daycare centers could not survive being shut down from the pandemic, some remained open to the children of essential workers and others, still, were forced to furlough our kids' teachers. Now that doors are back open and our little ones are once again in the comfort of the classrooms they missed, it's clearer now more than ever just how hard daycare owners and teachers work.

That's why, as the holidays approach and you begin shopping, it's a good idea to consider more heartfelt gifts this year to recognize the daycare educators in your life. Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we've rounded up some ideas to give you a little inspiration.

1. Breakfast on You

When my toddler's daycare opened back up, my husband and I sent over bagels, muffins, and fruit for all of the staff to enjoy. You can treat your daycare center to a holiday breakfast—or lunch!—complete with goodies from your favorite local spot and, of course, lots of coffee. Just don't forget to check in with the center's owner ahead of time to make sure you schedule it at a convenient time.

For an extra special touch for your child's teacher, buy a coffee tumbler—we love this insulated one from Hyrdo Flask that can keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 6. Bonus points if you fill it with a sweet note from you or your child!

2. Opt for a New Mask

We're living with a new normal: frequent hand-washing, social distancing, and face masks galore. Why not lean in to that and give your child's teacher a little more variety with their choice of masks every morning?

These cotton face masks by Kitsch are soft and comfortable for prolonged wear, plus they come in a variety of patterns. And these adjustable face masks by Joah Love will fit every face shape and have a strap to keep them right around your neck when not in use.

3. Give the Gift of Relaxation

A spa day might not be in the cards due to the pandemic, but you can still treat teachers to some R&R—which, let's be honest, they could surely use after wrangling the under 5 crowd every day.

Give the gift of relaxation to your daycare teacher with this highly-coveted Naipo shiatsu back and neck massager—seriously, it's got rave reviews on Amazon—that'll have them unwinding in no time. And throw in a fizzy bath bomb full of essential oils by Lush to make their post-massage bath even more soothing.

4. Stock Them up on Hand Sanitizer

Pandemic or not, these teachers are around our germy little kids day in and day out—and let's not forget all of those poopy diapers—so hand sanitizer is a must-have. Target has a range of mini hand sanitizer bottles as well as super cute sanitizer cases—I mean, did you see this tie-dye one?—for under $5. Adorable: check. Practical: check.

5. Treat Them to a Manicure

Frequent hand-washing is the root of many a chipped nail—not to mention über dry, cracked hands. Treat your child's teacher to a new manicure, either with a gift certificate to your favorite salon in the area, or gift a shade or two of Sundays nontoxic, long-lasting polish. Don't skip out on a moisturizing hand lotion too. Target lovers (aren't we all though) swear by the Smartly unscented Hand & Body Lotion, and for $2.29 it's a no-brainer.

6. Help Them Prioritize Self-Care

Create a little basket to help your child's teacher make some time for self-care. Add in a Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask to help treat skin congested from all that mask-wearing and Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum to help bring moisture back into the face. These products will help your teacher feel luxurious, but you can also opt for some of your favorite drugstore buys to really load the basket up.

7. Keep It Personal

It's time to really get to know your child's caretaker. Take note of a color they wear often, ask them about the smell of their perfume or lotion, or a favorite drink. When it comes time to shop, keep those things in mind and buy that perfume they told you about or that box of tea they love. If you aren't sure, purchase something that reminds you of them or that you just can't get enough of—like a rich candle. Include a note about why you chose that gift and express your gratitude.

8. Consider Cozy

Let's be honest, 2020 has us all pretty homebound, so going for comfort this holiday season totally makes sense. The top cozy gift perfect for cold weather? Ugg Scuffette II slippers. But if you aren't sure of their show size, an oversized scarf in a luxe fabric—like this J.Crew oversized cashmere wrap—will do the trick.

9. Make It Homemade

The past few months have been rough on families, with career stability and finances really taking a hit. There's no reason you have to spend more than you're able to show your gratitude; opting for something homemade can be just as meaningful as spending the big bucks.

Your child's teacher will love freshly-baked holiday cookies—just print out the recipe or place them on a plate they can reuse!—or a special creation made by your kid.

10. Can't Go Wrong With a Gift Card

Still not sure? A gift card will allow your child's teacher to get exactly what they want this year. Try a gift certificate to a local restaurant you think they'll love or treat them to dinner at home with an Uber Eats gift card.

For the beauty lover, a Sephora gift card is just the answer. For the entertainer, a gift card for Williams Sonoma will be much appreciated. Want to leave it a little more flexible? Go with an Amazon or Visa gift card.

Whatever you decide, your child's daycare teacher will know just how much you appreciate them.