And…3 Gifts to Avoid!
Figuring out what to get your child’s teacher for the holidays, Teacher Appreciation Week, or “just because” can be challenging. Not only do you want the gift to be something that he or she will enjoy, but it also needs to fit within your budget.
We took the guesswork out of the whole gift deciding process and went straight to the source to find out what teachers really want. We’ll start with the 11 gifts teachers want (the three to avoid are at the bottom of this post).
1. Gift Cards
They may seem impersonal, but teachers assured us that they love getting gift cards. A $5.00 gift card from their favorite coffee shop, iTunes, or Target is a small gift that can make a big impact. Not only does it give them the opportunity to pick out something that they would like (or need), but when they combine it with other gift cards for the same location, they can get things that may be out of reach otherwise.
Tip: Steer clear of gift cards that charge a fee or that are for specialty shops unless you know for sure that the teacher shops there. Also, store gift cards are usually preferred over fast food locations – the exception being coffee, of course.
2. School Supplies
That is correct, teachers want school supplies. As one teacher said, “I will never have enough cute notepads, sticky notes, Sharpies, highlighters, etc. I spend so much of my own money on office supplies that anything is appreciated.”
Another teacher went so far as asking for boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, pencils, erasers, and stickers. By the middle of the school year these things are in short supply in many classrooms and a basket filled with school supplies can help a teacher get through the next couple of semesters.
Tip: Stock up during back to school sales. Put the gift in a basket or bin that will work well in the classroom and give the teacher extra storage, as well. Check out this gift basket of school supplies that Esther over at Coupon Cutting Mom made for her daughter’s teacher as an example. Barbara at A Life In Balance created a school supply tin for her child’s teacher – check it out here!
3. Movie Passes
Give your child’s teacher an excuse to relax by gifting her with a pair of movie tickets to a local theater. Many large theaters offer gift cards or gift certificates that can be redeemed at any of their locations.
Tip: Make sure that the theater you get the tickets for is close to where the teacher actually lives.
Chocolate bars, chocolate Kisses, hot chocolate…all were mentioned by the teachers in our survey. “You can never have enough chocolate,” said one teacher.
Tip: Get a few bags of specialty chocolate that your child’s teacher can keep in her desk. Sometimes a small bite of chocolate on a rough day can make a world of difference!
5. A Card or Letter of Thanks
Teachers are under enormous pressure and often feel unappreciated. One of the best gifts can be a heartfelt letter of thanks. You may be surprised how much those letters mean and how long teachers hold on to them. “My favorite gifts by far have been heartfelt letters and cards!” said one teacher.
Tip: This gift can be combined with all of the others! Chocolate, for instance, tastes sweeter when it is accompanied by a letter that lets a teacher know how much you appreciate her.
They say time is precious and in a teacher’s world, there is very little downtime during the school year. They spend their days teaching, their evenings working on lessons, and their weekends planning ahead – not to mention taking care of their own families.
One of the best gifts you can give according to one teacher is “volunteering in the classroom or outside the classroom (to cut lamination, etc.).” Even if you cannot make it in to the classroom to volunteer, commit to doing volunteer jobs once or twice a week for the rest of the school year. It is the perfect gift whether you are on a tight budget or not!
Tip: Talk with the teacher personally and explain your desire to volunteer and help her.
7. Homemade Gift Certificate
If the thought of getting a $5.00 gift card seems too impersonal, give your child’s teacher a homemade gift certificate related to your profession. “Mechanics can give free tune-up/oil changes, cosmetologists can give a free haircut or manicure,” suggested one teacher. Not only will you be helping the teacher with a free service, but you will get the chance to spend time with her and get to know her better.
Tip: Get creative with this! Teachers are open to a whole host of ideas and grateful for all of them.
8. Books for the Classroom Library
Did you know that teachers spend their own money to build their classroom libraries? Have you ever seen how many books there are? Help them add to their collection by donating some of your family’s favorites to the class library. Not only will it motivate your own child to read more in the classroom since they helped donate some of the books, but it will expose other children to wonderful books that they might otherwise not know about.
Tip: Ask the teacher if there are any books he has been wanting to get for the classroom library if you are stumped about what to get. Chances are he may have a few titles that he has been wanting to add.
9. Baked Goods
Baked goods brought out a lot of differing opinions amongst our survey respondents. Some teachers loved getting homemade cookies, candy, pies, and treats. Others, however, said no thank you to any homemade food item. As one teacher explained, “I have some food allergies that I don’t share with my class and since I never know for sure what is in the food I just don’t eat it.” Baked goods may be an option if you know your child’s teacher very well, but otherwise it may be wise to choose another option.
Tip: Pick up a tray of your child’s teacher’s favorite cookies or fudge from a local bakery instead of baking it yourself.
10. Homemade Crafts
The thought and love that go into creating a homemade craft is never lost on a teacher. “I love them because I know the care that goes into it!” said one teacher. Many liked getting holiday ornaments and reported saving them for many years. “I have saved all of the ornaments and cherish them!” reported one teacher.
Another explained that it is the sentiment behind the gift that they really cherish, “I had a student paint me a picture of flowers instead of bringing me real flowers…this [type] of homemade gift is more meaningful.” Hand knit or crocheted scarves in trendy colors were mentioned as something that they would also love to receive.
Tip: Get to know your child’s teacher and find out what she likes. Have your child create the craft; it will mean a lot more to the teacher to know that one of her students made it for her.
11. Teacher Gift Ideas: Hand Lotion
School soap can be harsh and teachers wash their hands many, many times throughout the day. Steer clear of lotions with strong scents, as quite a few teachers mentioned that they are sensitive to fragrances. Consider getting a super-size pump bottle of lotion, or a small bottle for each of the months remaining in the school year. Your teacher’s hands will thank you!
Tip: If you know your child’s teacher likes a particular scent, it is okay to get a scented lotion. Check with her first!
Top 3 Gifts to Avoid Giving Your Child’s Teacher
As promised, the three to avoid! While these items may not be the same for all teachers, they were mentioned in the survey quite a few times as items teachers would be happy not to receive:
1. Coffee mugs
One teacher claimed she has received more than 70 coffee mugs from past students. “What am I going to do with 70 mugs?” she asked.
Candles also posed a problem for those with allergies, but one teacher admitted that when she lost power during the winter she was especially happy for all of the candles she had received during the holidays.
Fruitcake – not really fruit, not really cake, but it does make a fabulous paperweight.
I get SO much lotion, and the cheap stuff isn’t all that helpful, so I’d take that off the list and include the fast food gift cards – a quick lunch is sometimes all we have time for! Not all teachers drink coffee, either, so those general gift cards are great instead of specialized coffee shops.
School supplies are nice to get, especially the better, more expensive ones – we get enough cheap glue sticks, etc., so a few “good” items would make great gifts! Nice pens, Flairs, fun colored Sharpies, etc., are all good ideas, as well as things like paper plates, baggies, scrapbook paper…..
Great ideas but I would rather not receive homemade baked goods. I always feel terrible about it, not I won’t eat them.
You can keep this whole list. All I want is my kids to come to school, every day, on time, prepared. And if they can’t come prepared (because of money, or extenuating circumstances, etc), I would love for my families to just tell me and keep me in the loop because maybe I could help if I knew. These things would automatically mean less stress for me and they cost nothing.