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Personal Shopper: Gifts for Florence's Future Teacher Friends

Says Florence: "It's graduation season, and two of my favorite girlfriends are graduating. Both are becoming teachers, so I'm thinking along the lines of items for their professional wardrobes or something to help them let loose from the stress of KIDS. My budget for these gifts is around $30 each. Any help is always appreciated. Thanks!"

Hi, Florence, this is Marian. My mom was an elementary school teacher before she retired, so I feel like I should be at least somewhat qualified for this one! Mom used to laugh (nicely, but still) about the young teachers who would start off the year refusing to "dress like teachers" only to discover that jumpers are better than cute tops if you don't want to flash your midriff while you're leading a P.E. session, that your pockets need to be huge if you're going to have chalk and keys and stuff in them, and that gorgeous high heels are fairly painful when you barely get a chance all day to sit down. A watch, though, is a necessity, and this cute 1) Skinny Tortoise Leather Watch is on sale for just $10 right now at Urban Outfitters. And if there is NO WAY THEY ARE FORGOING THEIR CUTE SHOES, you can always bow to practicality, tease 'em a little, and get them 2) this variety pack of Foot Petals ($25).

If they want to relax during lunch or recess, or after school, another good choice would be 3) a compact all-in-one tea brewer and cup like this rather elegant one from Eight Cranes ($30). All it requires is loose tea and hot water. And continuing with after-school unwinding, Mom always had a ratty boom box and some CDs that were rather cooler than "Goober Peas" and the "Garden Song" tucked in a cabinet. I've included a 4) five-disc box of club anthems ($17), but if your noble friends would rather have rock, or whatever else, I'm sure you can substitute something appropriate. And instead of the boom box, maybe 5) a set of folding MP3 speakers like these ($25).

The last item is a little beyond the stated price range, but I thought I'd throw it in just in case. One of the ways you can always tell a teacher is by the enormous ring of keys, for things like classrooms and storage rooms and front gates and back gates and multipurpose rooms and good grief. (See: those pockets.) 6) The Keyport ($varies), though, is a nifty custom device that stores several key blades within one head, meaning that it takes up a lot less room than one of those jingling keychain monstrosities. It can even be outfitted with additional gadgets like a USB drive and a flashlight.

Congratulations (and many thanks) to your friends, Florence! Drop us a line back?

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