Teacher Appreciation Week is coming! When I was teaching, this was one of my favorite weeks of the whole year. It’s no secret that teachers can sometimes feel unappreciated or unacknowledged, so it’s a real treat to be showered with love for five whole days!
I always enjoyed all of my gifts, but I’ll admit that some were more loved than others. I also know that teachers’ gifts and this whole week can be pricey, especially for larger families, so it’s hard to know exactly what to buy all of those teachers and make it something they’ll like! Hopefully, these three tips will help you find a gift that will make you (and your child) Teacher’s Pet this year!
1. Make your gift either sentimental or consumable.
Your child is one of roughly 20 children in their class. This means that the teacher will be receiving roughly 20 gifts. That’s a lot of “stuff” to find homes for, especially 20 apple statues or “#1 Teacher” coffee mugs. So, if you’re going to give them something to keep, make sure that it’s something that’s truly a keepsake. For instance, one Christmas, my students made me a blanket with all of their names and a holiday image made up of their hand and footprints. I still pull that blanket out every holiday season! I also received a plant pot decorated with flowers and my students’ favorite things about me written all over it. It melted my heart! It gets a fresh clear coat every year and sits proudly on my patio years later!
If you’re not the sentimental type, think “consumable.” Food, coffee, classroom supplies, gift certificates or tickets for experiences (like manicures or sporting events), and gift cards. Don’t be afraid of gift cards! They are, hands down, some of my favorite gifts. They allowed me to treat myself, even when it wasn’t in my personal budget to do it. It’s easy to find out where your teacher frequents (like, does she always have a Starbucks coffee cup in her hand at car line?) and give her the chance to treat herself! One year, my class arranged for a dinner to be delivered to my room every day so that I didn’t have to cook all week. Talk about luxury! A couple of parents even included adult cocktails (shh!). Restaurant gift cards are also another great treat. My husband and I have enjoyed many dinners out, only because of generous parents who gave gift cards to delicious local restaurants!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teacher for suggestions.
Many teachers have growing wish lists for their classrooms. When I taught at a private school, we received a [very] small classroom supplies stipend at the beginning of the year, but didn’t have a supply closet to pull from. By the end of the year, our art and office supplies were always running dreadfully low and I was spending my own money to get us through. I was always grateful when parents asked what we needed for the classroom. That fresh pack of dry erase markers and tissues are how we got through the rest of the year!
There may also be larger items they’re wanting, but can’t afford, for their classroom. For example, my parents coordinated to buy me a set of privacy dividers for my students’ desks during testing. I could have never afforded them on my supplies stipend or teaching salary that first year, so it was a real luxury! You’ll be surprised by what “small” items will send teachers’ hearts aflutter!
If you’re nervous to ask the teacher directly, ask your room mom to give the teacher a survey to complete with questions about favorite restaurants, foods/drinks, scents, and colors, along with classroom wish list items and any potential allergies. Then, everyone has a guide to making sure the teacher feels the love with things he or she loves!
3. It truly is the thought that counts.
So … make sure you put some kind of thought into it. I hope this doesn’t read as ungrateful, but we teachers are also human shoppers. We can tell when you just ran into the drug store on the corner and grabbed the first lotion set on the shelf. And let’s be honest, those are the types of things we almost all re-gift or donate after a holiday, teacher or not. If you don’t know what to buy your child’s teacher, see #1. Get a gift card. I speak for almost every teacher I know when I say that we don’t care how expensive or fancy the gift is, just please make it something we will use!
And if it’s not in the budget to purchase a gift, don’t feel guilty! Again, see #1. Sentimental! Let your child make something, whether it’s decorating a blank coffee mug, baking a batch of cookies, or just hand drawing a special card. I have a whole box full of handmade cards and notes from my students that I truly consider precious to me.
I’ve been teaching for 5 years and I love gift cards! I also love gifts with thought. Before becoming pregnant, I was a huge Coke drinker and my kids knew it. One Christmas, one of my students came into my room carrying a big grocery bag. I figured he was going to pull my gift out. Then he placed the whole bag on my desk. When I looked inside it was a 6pack of the mini Coke bottles. I also received a box of hand written letters from each of my students about how I impacted theor lives.