Your kid's teacher doesn't need a coffee mug, a bottle of perfume, or a photo of your perfect child.
While there is no requirement for your child to give a holiday gift to his or her teacher, it is a pretty nice way to tell an educator "thank you."
My parents, both teachers, have received a wide variety of gifts from their students, and over careers of 30-plus years they have amassed some interesting items. I have compiled some favorites of theirs, as well those of a friend who recently retired from teaching.
How about a mug imprinted with "#1 Teacher"? No. That teacher's coffee mug cupboard was probably full long ago.
What about perfume? Nope. There are only so many gallons of Jean Nate that a teacher can wear in a lifetime.
Wouldn't the teacher love a framed photo of your child? No. (One of those really showed up one Christmas, in a popsicle-stick frame.) Do you have framed photos of customers or clients around your home?
Here are 10 better ideas:
At the same time, many people feel insecure about their financial future. Go figure.
If you ever wonder why so many Americans have money problems, consider this: Two out of every three of us have no limits on how much we intend to spend this holiday season -- even though more of us admit to feeling less comfortable about our financial security.
According to a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and released on Bankrate.com, 66% of Americans have no holiday budget. And 44% of us are less comfortable with our savings now than we were 12 months ago.
A survey for a deals website identified the qualities of those who love and those who eschew online coupons.
If you love online coupons, consider yourself among the best and brightest, and the well-off. Oh, and likely female.
- Bing: Find online coupons
If you don't, well, you might want to work on your attitude, if conclusions gleaned from a Facebook survey for coupon/deals site Deals.com are correct.
"Who isn't using coupons (other than the non-rich, that is)? Angry people aren't. Yes, people who identified with the sin of anger do not use online coupons. Angry people who are de-motivated, lazy and mostly male," Paula Sirois wrote in a post for Deals.com called "I'm a full price fool." (She doesn't seem angry but admits to not using coupons, either.)
Must we put up with bumper carts in the checkout line and people blocking the aisles to eat free food samples?
Nothing keeps me out of stores more than other shoppers.
Particularly in big-box stores, the noise level is often incredible -- even on the rare occasions when you're not surrounded by screaming kids and people shouting on their cell phones.
Curmudgeon that I am, I was delighted to see Ron Lieber's post at The New York Times Bucks blog on "4 guidelines for polite Costco shopping." Feel free to apply his advice to Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and anywhere else you shop. He did a humorous commentary on the topic for MarketPlace. You can hear a podcast here.
Continental lets you hold airline tickets for up to a week, but you'll pay. Is this a useful new service or just another way to gouge fliers?
Perhaps you once paid a fee to "lock in" your mortgage rate.
Now you can pay a fee to lock in your airfare.
Leave it to the airlines to find yet another fee: Continental Airlines now will give you the option of locking in a fare for 72 hours or seven days, while you decide whether to buy the ticket -- for a fee starting at $5 or $9.
In a new poll, children rated the brand names that mean the most to them. Some are easy to guess. Others are shocking.
Here's a scary thought: A new poll by market research firm Harris Interactive is recommending that corporations ramp up their marketing to children as young as 8.
Harris researchers asked 8- to 24-year-olds to rate brands for "familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration." The results for 18- to 24-year-olds were unsurprising: The top three most highly regarded brands were Google, Facebook and iPod.
But then it got a tad creepy.
More consumers say they're buying holiday presents that support a cause. What to watch out for.
Which would impress your socially aware teenage nephew more: a set of high-performance headphones, sales of which support AIDS research, or a heifer in his name in Africa?
It's the kind of question a growing number of shoppers are asking this season, as they look for gifts with a charitable tie-in -- while trying to dodge those that only say they do good.
New rules require that airlines provide on-time performance data for flights and that booking sites identify which airline is flying the plane.
Would you hesitate to book a flight if you knew it was late 76% of the time? How about 45%?
Airlines are now required to put that information at your fingertips on their websites, but a review by The New York Times shows that some make that information difficult to find.
- Bing: Last-minute travel deals
It's not the only mandatory disclosure that some travel websites appear reluctant to embrace.
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