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The wealthy teacher

Use a little present sense for all those treats from Santa. Try Alison Brace's suggestions - they'll please your bank manager...and all good girls and boys

It's that time of year again ... and if you are thinking of buying presents for your class, then do it now if you want to avoid shelling out a fortune at the last minute.

Firstly, though, check what the school's policy is on giving gifts. At some schools - particularly secondaries - it is thought inappropriate. At others, a Christmas card for each child is enough.

However, if your school is one of those which likes to spread a little festive cheer wrapped up in shiny paper, then you need to check the ground rules. Is there a budget set aside for present buying or is it something taken care of by the fund-raising friends of the school?

If it is down to you, then you will not want to break the bank. And, if spending your evenings lovingly preparing handmade gifts is not your idea of what constitutes a great time either, then set a budget and shop around.

Woolworths, the Poundstretcher chain and supermarkets all do bulk lots of pencils, notepads and seasonal tat at very reasonable prices.

Ordering over the internet is, of course, the best way of avoiding the High Street madness - and also of getting some of the best deals. If your budget is pound;10, then how about Festive Friends Magic Slates from Baker Ross? Just pound;9 for a bumper pack of 36. That's a mere 25p each.

Or, for the same price, how about Flying Snowmen or Reindeer Gliders? These are also from Baker Ross at pound;9 for 36.

If you are looking for something slightly more educational, then try Brainwaves' range of bookmarks - pound;3.50 for 30 brightly coloured pieces of card marked with slogans like "Reading is Cool" and "Books are Fun".

If you want to throw in a pencil, why not opt for ones with "Merry Christmas from your Teacher" written on the side, for just pound;2.75 for a pack of 12 (less than 23p each), from Primary Teaching Services Ltd?

To cut costs further, get together with colleagues from your year and buy in bulk.

That way you could all reduce spending - and, just as importantly, every pupil will receive an identical gift thus cutting the squabble factor right down

WHERE TO LOOK

Brainwaves

www.brainwaves.net

or 08000 325454

Baker Ross

www.bakerross.co.uk or 0870 458 5440

Party Pieces

www.partypieces.co.uk or 01635 201844

Letterbox

www.letterbox.co.uk or 0870 6007878

Primary Teaching Services Ltd

www.primaryteaching.co.uk or 0800 783 2468

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