Not sure what to give teachers at next week's holiday parties?
Read on for teacher gift-giving tips!
A disclaimer: I'm not a teacher. I've never been a teacher. (Well, unless you count all of those summers I played school with my sisters and insisted on suggested being the teacher because I'm the oldest. Naturally.) But I have a lot of teacher friends, and these suggestions are from them.
Keep in mind when giving your holiday gifts next week that you might want to look beyond your child's teacher. Don't forget the:
- art teacher
- gym teacher
- music teacher
- bus driver
- vice principal
- school nurse
- crossing guard
- reading teacher
- Spanish teacher
- lunch lady
Of course, you're not obligated to give a gift to anyone, and certainly not everyone on this list. Just think about who has impacted your child's life this year and who deserves an extra "thanks" this time of year!
With that said, I have two words to summarize this post:
The apple thing is only cute for so long, and I'm here to tell you that most teachers don't want one more apple pin or apple picture frame or apple notepad. You can probably stop there and get just about anything else and you'll be a step ahead of the apple-loving crowd. But here are a few more tips in case you want some guidance.
Other gifts to think twice about... Teachers never want to seem ungrateful, but many would prefer you think outside the box and stay away from the following:
- Mugs - they get a million. It doesn't matter what it says, what picture is on it, how funny or cute or clever it is. No mugs. Especially mugs with apples.
- Kitschy plaques and knick-knacks - there is only so much desktop and shelf space in the classroom for those personalized plaques and frames and chalkboard wall hangings. They get eight bazillion their first couple years of teaching and they're all the same. I didn't talk to a single teacher who REQUESTED one more of these.
- Food - this might surprise a lot of people, because it seems that homemade goodies are such a perfect, appreciated go-to gift. Just be aware of dietary restrictions, the excess of sweets they receive this time of year, and some teachers' concerns about the ingredients and cleanliness precautions when the goodies were made. I've had several teachers tell me that while appreciated, a lot of those homemade goods go uneaten and thrown out. But then again... some teachers LOVE them!
Okay, Ready? Let's move on to what those teachers will LOVE!
- A handmade card from your child. Most teachers will agree that this is by far the most meaningful, appreciated gift. Seriously.
- A note from you. They want to know that you acknowledge and appreciate all of their hard work.
- That note you wrote? Send a copy of it to the principal. What a boost to the teacher for the principal to hear your praises!
- Drawing or piece of art by your child
- Cold, hard cash. It seems impersonal, but trust me, no teacher will ever turn it down. If you want to go beyond slipping a crisp bill in a card, how about this ADORABLE idea? Bind a bunch of ones together to make a money pad for your teacher. Seriously adorable. or you could figure out how to fold it into clever origami:
- School supplies. Pencils, paperclips, paper... it will get used! Oftentimes, the items used in their classrooms are paid for from their own pockets. This might seem boring, but do a quick Google or Pinterest search to find some darling ways to package these items creatively. How about pencils encircling some pretty Christmas poinsettias instead of sunflowers?
- Classroom materials. Beyond school supplies, some teachers have a "wish list" of items they'd love to have for their classroom. Ask them!
- Books for the classroom
- Volunteer! Give your time in the classroom. Make a "coupon" or just put it in a note, either way they'll appreciate it!
- Book of stamps
- A stack of blank homemade cards (coupled with the aforementioned book of stamps...?)
- Ornament. Some teachers are ornamented out and may not prefer this one. But if it's a special one that your child picked out, made, or will remind your teacher of your child, then go for it! But NO APPLES! ;)
- Unique drink mixes. You could try Mexican Hot Chocolate or Friendship Tea or...
- Magazine Subscription
- Movie Tickets
- Personalized stationary and notepads - vistaprint.com is a great place to start!
- A donation in their name to a charity of your choice, or one you know they'd appreciate
- A 6-pack of their favorite soda
- Dig in their trash! Find out what they like. What's in there? Candy bar wrapper? Used tea bags? Give that to them! (Not the trash...)
- Stylish jewelry. Not "teacher" jewelry. You know what I mean!
- Babysitting. If your teacher has children, why not give them an evening of free babysitting?
- Flowers or a Plant - We made these for Emma's teachers a few years ago:
- Something for their pet(s)
- Useful, practical household items - one teacher even told me toilet paper!
- Purses/tote bags
- Bottle of Advil... no, seriously!
- Hand sanitizer
- A bag full of gum and mints
- Bottle of wine - you might have to know your teacher well to pull this one off
- Tickets to a sporting or theater event
- Wish book. Have your child or the entire class compile a book for the teacher about "What I'd Get You If I Had a Million Dollars." The teacher will love their sweet and funny ideas.
- Fun, teacher themed tees like this one or this one you can find at Cafe Press
- A package of thank you notes - for all the other gifts. And no matter what, let your teacher off the hook and tell them you don't want a thank you note. Why give them more work to do?
- A membership to a local museum or zoo
- Ski pass (if it's local)
- Group gift - get together with the other parents and pool your money for a large gift card or big-ticket item you know your teacher wants
- Personalized labels - so many of their classroom books and items are their own. Help them keep track of them! vistaprint.com, Mabel's Labels, and many more.
Gift cards are GREAT! (And should be higher up on this non-prioritized list. They WANT gift cards!!!) Remember, any amount is a gift. A $5 gift card, when coupled with others they'll receive, goes a long way! You could get gift cards for:
43. Amazon.com. Perfect for personal or classroom use.
45. iTunes - this covers music, apps, etc. An acceptable gift involving an apple!
46. Manicure/Pedicure (paired with cute gloves, socks or slippers?)
49. Car Detailing
50. Car Wash
Afraid a gift card is too boring? There are some CUTE packaging ideas out there! Look at this one from the awesome gals at eighteen25:
They have a gazillion more cute teacher ideas here.
Or what about this gift card holder for a male teacher?
This list of 50+ is just the beginning. Do an easy Google or Pinterest search for "teacher gifts" and you'll be bombarded with cute ideas. Here are a few to get you started:
http://www.tipjunkie.com/back-to-school-2/?awt_l=CcU.F&awt_m=3bABdIC0Lv_yc4R (scroll down to the section about homemade gifts)
The bottom line: make your teacher (and other school folk!) feel loved and appreciated! No matter what you do, they'll be thankful!
I hope this list got your wheels turning. If you have other clever ideas, leave a comment! I still need to figure out what my girls' teachers will be getting!