Teachers’ day and teacher appreciation week both occur in May in the US. However, there are many other times to show your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the beginning or end of the year, your teacher’s birthday, or anytime you wish. The key to providing the perfect teacher appreciation gift is knowing your teacher’s likes and dislikes. Additionally, teachers do not get paid much and always need things. Find out what your teacher wants or needs that they cannot afford or will not purchase for themselves and you are on your way to giving the perfect gift.
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How to Choose a Teacher Appreciation Gift
Your teacher receives many gifts during their years of teaching, but there are a few they keep forever or that remind them of a particular student. In order to choose the perfect gift for your teacher that not only lets them know how much you appreciate them, but also leaves a lasting impression, consider the following guidelines.
- Choose something your teacher loves. If you find out your teachers favorite candy, cookies, or other treat, you can purchase the item on not only teacher appreciation day, but also anytime you wish to say “Thanks!” In the future, your teacher will probably associate that item with you.
- Give something that lasts. If your teacher is a gardener, buy a plant for them. Students gave many of the plants in my garden to me and I enjoy remembering them as I groom these special plants. Books, CDs, and inexpensive jewelry all are good choices.
- Find something unique. One of my past students brought me unique gifts, all of which I still have. One was a single silver metal rose, another very pretty stone for a necklace. Another student brought me a clever novelty pencil – too large to use, but fun to keep on my desk in a pencil holder.
- Put it in writing. As a former teacher, I have a folder of notes and cards given to me that carried a special message of love and appreciation. Your teacher will probably keep something written if it includes how they have positively influenced your life. Of course, this only works with that very special teacher you will never forget.
Every teacher has his or her own likes and dislikes, so it is important to choose your gift carefully. However, you probably should not purchase some items for your teacher.
- Coffee Mugs Unless your teacher intentionally collects them, you probably want to refrain from buying a coffee mug as teachers get them frequently enough to have more than they need or want.
- Pets A pet requires care and attention. In addition, most people wish to pick out their own pets. If your teacher has expressed a desire for a particular breed and cannot afford to purchase the pet and supplies, such a gift might work as a collective class gift. However, in most cases, do not give live pets.
- Anything Labor Intensive Teachers are very busy, so you should avoid plants that require a great deal of attention or anything else that requires a tremendous amount of care. One hundred daffodils are a beautiful addition to the garden. However, if your teacher is not a gardener, they will never be planted. The same is true of bushels or fresh fruit or zucchini from your garden. Check first to find out if your teacher enjoys canning or preserving before giving lavish amounts of fruit, berries, or produce.
Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas
It is fun to give your teacher something special each day during teacher appreciation week. Your gifts do not need to be large. You may wish to end the week with a larger, more memorable gift. Following is a list of gifts suggested for each day of teacher’s appreciation week.
Day 1 – A card expressing your appreciation
Homemade cards are often more meaningful.
Day 2 – Some treat your teacher likes to eat
Again, homemade treats are fine, although some teachers will not eat anything not store bought as they worry about the cleanliness of the kitchen in which they were prepared.
Day 3 – A plant or flower
Ask the florist for a long lasting variety that takes very little light and care if you are buying a live indoor plant. An inexpensive bouquet of fresh flowers is always nice or you can pick flowers and create your own arrangement.
Day 4 – A gift certificate
If you have seen your teacher bring in food from a particular fast-food restaurant, buy a coupon so one of your teacher’s meals is on you.
Day 5 – A DVD of your teacher’s favorite movie, TV series, or music
By the time teacher appreciation week rolls around, you should know what your teacher watches and listens to for enjoyment and can make the perfect choice.
Teacher Appreciation Gifts
Teachers work hard and a gift telling your teacher always loves a gift letting them know you appreciate them. Although teachers love being remembered on Teachers’ Day or during Teacher Appreciation Week, a spontaneous gift given anytime provides a welcome surprise. Sometimes your teacher may need a boost. For example, maybe they just recovered from an illness or you know they had a great many papers to grade. At such times, knowing a student appreciates them can really make a difference and create a lasting memory. Try one of the following to let your teacher know how much you appreciate them.
- Gift certificates. Food, entertainment, or variety store gift certificates are welcome gifts. Remember that your teacher’s salary often does not cover everything they need or want. Even if your teacher uses your gift certificate for family necessities, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- T-shirts. If your teacher has a favorite sport team or college, find a t-shirt with their logo. Some schools have t-shirts and teachers often do not have the funds for purchase them.
- Highlighters. Teachers love highlighters, especially sets with multiple colors.
- Sticky notes. Again, a variety of sizes and colors help make your teacher’s job easier and more fun.
- Dry Erase Markers. Teachers never have enough dry erase markers and often do not purchase multiple colors because of the expense. Your teacher will appreciate some markers in unique colors.
- Writing Utensils. Mechanical pencils, red, or other colored pencils, good pens, or a laser pointer make a thoughtful gift for your teacher. If you choose to buy mechanical pencils, buy the kind that does not require lead refills. For some reason, colored lead pencils are expensive. You should know what color your teacher grades your paper with, so purchase whatever color they use. Teachers frequently use the least expensive pens they can find, so they always appreciate good pens. Laser pointers are great, but teachers sometimes will not purchase one for themselves, so they are always appreciated.
- Money Holder. Your teacher may appreciate a new wallet, or coin purse. If your teacher does not have one already, consider a “piggy” bank for their desk for collecting loose change.
- Specialty Foods. If your teacher has a food they love that is expensive, such as high-end chocolate, coffee from a special place, or a particular type of food, consider either purchasing the food or a gift certificate, which will allow them to visit the shop or restaurant for their favorite.
Ideas for Collective Teacher Appreciation Gifts
When you are buying a teacher appreciation gift, try not to purchase and give anything too expensive. The exception is a collective gift bought by the whole class. Such a gift provides the opportunity to give your teacher a larger gift and one that will last longer. Some suggestions for a group teacher appreciation gift are:
- A Special Accessory. Observe your teacher’s choice of accessories and pick one they will love. A watch, a piece of fine jewelry, or a brightly colored fashion scarf may be the perfect choice.
- Books and Movies. A collection of books or movies makes a good gift and one that lasts. Make sure you inscribe the inside cover of the book with a dedication form your class and the date. Also, be sure you purchase your teacher’s favorites.
- Subscription. A subscription to a monthly gift or event, or monthly passes to a movie theater reminds your teacher over a period of time that you appreciate them. Again, make sure you choose something they like.
- Desk Set. If your teacher does not already have one, purchase a high-end desk set. This is a particularly appropriate gift for a new teacher just beginning their teaching career.
- Plane Tickets. An open round trip ticket your teacher’s hometown or parents’ home provides a traveling opportunity many teachers cannot afford. Alternatively, if a student’s parent has a vacation time-share, the class may wish to reserve a week for a teacher get-a-way.
- Electronic Device. Purchase the latest electronic device, either one for personal entertainment or one that can be used or teaching.
- Fine Art. A vase, painting, or other special design object makes an excellent collective gift. If possible, find out either your teacher’s favorite color or one that coordinates with their interior design.
- A Gift Basket. A basket with food delicacies or a collection of some of your teacher’s favorites
- Good Briefcase. Teachers usually carry books and papers home for class preparation and grading. Your teacher may be using cloth bags – some teachers even use grocery bags – consider purchasing a really fine briefcase.
Homemade Teacher Appreciation Gifts
Make something that shows your appreciation. Your teacher is likely to keep something you put effort into creating yourself, especially if it is useful.
- A hand-made pencil holder or other desk accessory is nice. You can decorate empty food containers by wrapping wall paper samples, adhesive backed paper, or wrapping paper around the outside
- Attractive containers for paper clips and other desk supplies work well. Purchase small baskets and hand paint simple designs in your teacher’s favorite color.
- Teachers need bookmarks for their textbook teacher editions to mark where they left off in their teaching. Simply use cardstock cut in a long rectangle and decorate it as you wish.
End of Year Teacher Appreciation Gifts
- Note of Thanks. Write a note of thanks to your teacher for all they have done for you during the school year. Be sure to include specific things you have learned both educationally and personally. For example, if they made math understandable or helped you learn to get along better with others, let them know.
- Scrapbook. If you have pictures of class activities or group shots with fellow students, create a scrapbook for your teacher. Include newspaper or bulletin articles about activities your class participated in during the school year. If you lack the time and creativity to make your own, consider finding a company online that will produce a digital book and send it to your teacher.
- Pampering Basket. Teachers usually do not have the time and money to pamper themselves, so a basket full of special products for beauty and comfort is always appreciated. Consider providing the following:
For your female teacher:
- Body mist
- Coupon for a haircut and style at a local salon
- Lip balm
- Mani pedi kit
- Scented candle
- Special scented body lotion
For your male teacher:
- After shave or cologne
- Bath salts for muscle tension
- Hand sanitizer
- Massage roller
- Nail brush
- Scented soap (in a male-oriented scent)
- Unscented lip balm
- Summertime Kit
When school is out, teachers have an opportunity to relax and a summertime kit provides a fun and thoughtful end of year gift. Purchase a low-cost beach bag and fill it with some of the following:
- A beach towel
- Reusable water bottle or large plastic cup with lid and straw
- Insect repellant
- A gift card
- A book or magazine
- Granola bars or small packages of dried fruit or nuts
Our list of gift ideas for teachers includes the practical, personal, and some that are just fun. Remember, the key is knowing what you teacher wants and needs. With some planning and foresight, you can find the perfect gift to tell your teacher how much you appreciate them.
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