Gifts for Teachers: What to Get and What to Avoid

Gift ideas for teachers
Gift ideas for teachers | Source

Many parents like to show their appreciation for their child's teachers by giving them a gift at the end of the school year, for Christmas, or for teacher appreciation week. However, each year they have to think of something new and creative to bring the people who, in a way, are raising their children. This article gives ideas for practical gifts that teachers could really use and it is based on teachers’ opinions collected from online forums, Facebook polls and blog comments.

Before You Go Shopping

Before you hit the stores in search of that teacher’s gift, check if your school or Parent Teacher Organization has a teacher “Wish Lists.” Many do these days and that can save you a lot of time and efforts.

What is the appropriate amount to spend on a teacher’s gift?

While some schools have strict policies about gift giving and dollar limits, other do not. This can cause concerns about the unintended message the gift may send – if you spend too much, you look like you are offering a bribe; if you spend too little, it may send the wrong message of disapproval.

The appropriate amount is a personal thing and will depend on your budget. If you need a general guideline - many parents suggest between $10 and $25 for the head teacher and between $5 and $10 for the assistant teachers.

Practical Gifts for Teachers

1. Gift Cards

Teachers highly value gift cards, but make sure you pick one they will use – for a book store, Amazon, coffee shop, grocery store or movie theater.
Teachers highly value gift cards, but make sure you pick one they will use – for a book store, Amazon, coffee shop, grocery store or movie theater. | Source

While gift cards may seem like an impersonal choice for friends and relatives, they are actually highly valued by teachers. It is no secret that teachers are not millionaires, so even a small denomination gift card can be helpful. Your $5 or $10 card combined with cards from twenty-something students will be much appreciated and used.

What Kind of Gift Cards are Best?

Gift credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are obviously the best choice, because they can be used at many retail locations. Amazon gift cards are another great option since they can be used to buy just about anything on Amazon.

The second best choice is a gift certificate for a place that everyone goes to – book store, local grocery store (Costco, Walmart, Target), car wash, gas station, or movie theater.

Younger children tend to establish more close relationships with their teachers and there is a good chance they know something about the teacher’s personal life, hobbies, and interests. If that's the case, more personal gift card would be a very sweet gesture. For example, if the teacher likes to drink coffee – get a Starbucks gift card. If he/she has a pet – a PetSmart card would be perfect. If they like arts and crafts – get Michael’s or Hobby Lobby cards. If they are remodeling their home – a gift card to a home improvement store would be great. Also, consider gift certificates for their favorite restaurant or spa.

How to Present a Gift Card

You can always enclose the gift card in a card made by, or signed by, your child, but if you want to do something more creative, have a look at these ideas.

Creative idea for presenting a gift card to a teacher.
Creative idea for presenting a gift card to a teacher. | Source

The first one comes from Family.Disney.com. The idea is to take a photo of your child, pretending to hold a big gift box, and glue the gift card (in an envelope) to the photo, so it looks like the kid is holding a present.

A bouquet of various gift cards is a great idea for teachers gift.
A bouquet of various gift cards is a great idea for teachers gift. | Source

Another interesting idea is to put several gift cards in envelopes, attach them to handmade flowers, and arrange them in a bouquet. Kids can write a short "thank you" note on each flower to add a personal touch. For a tutorial, go to Just Make Stuff.com

2. School Supplies

Create a big cake of school supplies and give it to your child's teacher as a gift.
Create a big cake of school supplies and give it to your child's teacher as a gift. | Source

Many schools are underfunded and teachers often spend money out of their own pockets to meet the needs of their students. This means that they will be happy to receive things like extra pencils, crayons, glue, erasers and Clorox wipes.

One way to make a bunch of school supplies look like a fun gift is to put them together in a Back to School Supply Cake. You can find a good tutorial on ByStephanieLynn.com. Or just get inspired and come up with your own design.

Illustrated stamps make grading papers quick and easy and teachers will appreciate them as gifts.
Illustrated stamps make grading papers quick and easy and teachers will appreciate them as gifts.

Every teacher needs to grade papers and a set of bright and colorful grading stamps will be well-received, especially by a teacher in the lower grades. A set of stamps will save them money on buying stickers all the time, and it is definitely more practical then writing numerous generic comments on basic assignments.

If you are on a low budget, you can consider gifts like fun notepads and stationary or teacher’s planning book.

Teachers take notes every day and also send out many notes to parents, so it will be enjoyable for them to have something pretty to write on. If you are crafty, you can even make a stack of personalized note cards.

A bouquet of dry-erase markers will always come in handy in the classroom.
A bouquet of dry-erase markers will always come in handy in the classroom. | Source

Dry-erase markers are a classroom essential and teachers go through a ton of them during the year, so why not get them an extra set or two? To make the gift look cute, put the markers in a small container, filled with dried beans or floral foam; cut basic cardstock flowers; punch a hole in the center of each flower; and place them on top of the markers. For a tutorial, visit TheHappyScraps.com

3. Sincere Personal Note

Thank you notes for a teacher appreciation day gift.
Thank you notes for a teacher appreciation day gift. | Source

Most teachers say they don’t expect gifts. They are grateful for all they receive, but the things that they cherish most are the letters and “thank you” notes from students and parents.

So, if you didn’t budget for a teacher’s gift, have your child write a simple but heartfelt “thank you” note for all that they do. And to make it even more special, let the child write it in her or his poor spelling and crazy handwriting. This seemingly small gesture is guaranteed to have a huge impact.

4. Catered Food

Catered food is a better gift for teachers than homemade treats, becaue people are often hesitant to eat homemade food given to them as gifts.
Catered food is a better gift for teachers than homemade treats, becaue people are often hesitant to eat homemade food given to them as gifts. | Source

After the school year ends, teachers usually spend several days finalizing grades and closing-out the year. A nice way to let them know how much you appreciate them is to bring them a catered lunch to the school. It can be as simple as pizza delivery for everyone (teachers, assistants, secretaries), or you can send specific teacher a menu from their favorite lunch place and tell them you will bring the lunch or get it delivered to the school. You can also consider a delivery of breakfast sandwiches, desserts, or snacks.

5. Volunteer at School

Spend a day volunteering in your child's classroom. Teachers really appreciate that.
Spend a day volunteering in your child's classroom. Teachers really appreciate that. | Source

Teachers teach for the love of what they do, not for tangible rewards, so it is O.K. not to give them gifts if you don’t feel comfortable. But you can still show appreciation by helping them out at school. For example, you can volunteer to be a classroom speaker, lead a workshop, read to the class while he or she grades papers, help organize events, or help with a day of outdoor activities. Anything you can do to help them will be a very welcomed holiday gift.

Gifts for Teachers You May Want to Avoid

Source

Some of the gifts that teachers get during the year often become a problem, simply because they receive tons of the same stuff and have no space in their classrooms or homes to keep them.

If you don’t want your child’s teacher to be featured on the next episode of “Hoarders”, you should probably avoid these:

Anything “teacher” themed

This includes anything with a design that incorporates apples, #1 Teacher, schoolhouses, school buses, rulers and chalk boards. Can you imagine every single year getting 30 gifts describing your job – #1 Sales Associate! What exactly are you supposed to do with all of this?

Coffee Mugs

Mugs are nice, but most teachers, especially those who have been teaching for more than 2 years, have enough mugs to stock a small department store. The thing is: one person can use only so many coffee mugs.

Candles

Similar to the mug gift, teachers probably have received enough candles to get them through the next fifty years.

Scented lotions, hand creams and body washes

Odds are that your favorite scented body wash won’t be hers.

Pinterest-type Craft Projects

This includes the popular crayon monograms, anything made from pencils, and anything that involves the melting of crayons. While teachers appreciate the time invested in making something, they usually don't have room to keep all the crafts they receive. And then they feel guilty for donating them to the thrift store.

Homemade treats

While some teachers like them, most teachers (and people in general) are understandably wary of homemade treats from people they don't know. They may have issues with the ingredients, the origin, or the preparation of the food. This means that although homemade treats are thoughtful, those will probably be tossed out.

Donation to a charity in the teacher’s name

Think about it like this: Would you donate to a charity in your hairdresser’s name? No, you will probably give her a tip. Teachers give a lot to your kids and are the people who spend all day, five days a week with them. They deserve to receive an actual gift too.

jewelry

Jewelry is a very personal thing, subject to individual taste, so unless you know very well the teacher’s tastes and personal style outside of the classroom, jewelry is off-limits.

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