Teacher’s Day is Tuesday, May 9th and Teacher Appreciation Week is May 8-12. Parents and students do not need a special holiday to remember to appreciate teachers, but having extra reasons to shower those that are educating, guiding, and tolerating our youth on a daily basis is wonderful.
I performed a very unscientific poll to try and discover the best gifts for educators, and what should be avoided. No teacher is the same, but it was interesting to see a general consensus within certain gift categories.
By in large, gift cards were a big hit with teachers. They do not clutter up their home, they are easy to open and stash away in one’s wallet, and they are viewed as a real treat. The bigger question that came with giving gift cards to teachers was: What are the best types of gift cards?
*Starbucks: The popular coffee chain easily won the most votes when it came to the gift card game for teachers. Many educators explained that even a $5 gift card was great because even that small amount was enough for a latte or double expresso. A coffee shop gift card was also viewed as a real treat, because most teachers used it on themselves and not for others within their household. The vast majority of the population relies on caffeine to survive, so giving the gift of a s’mores flavored Frappaccino or shaken iced tea is a no brainer. *A slight disclaimer to the Starbucks loving mentality was found during my unofficial gift guide research. Some teachers do not love coffee (shocking, I know!) and it sounds like Starbucks is a main gift card attraction within the school circuit. Therefore, it is probably a good idea to quiz the kiddos and make sure their teacher does in fact drink the beautiful black nectar of coffee beans before going all out on a themed gift basket full of ground coffee, a refillable tumbler, an electronic grinder, and unlimited supply of Versimo K-Cup pods.
*Restaurants or Stores: Gift cards to more generic places were also highly valued by teachers. Retail store gift cards often got used by a teacher to purchase items for their classroom, while the restaurant cards were used for a fun night out with their spouse or extended family. I would make a plug here to try giving gift cards from local businesses (especially ones located near the school) because then the present is not only showing appreciation to the teacher, but also helping out a family-owned enterprise in the area.
*Niche Ideas: A few fun gift cards that educators told me they received and liked included certificates to nail salons for manicures and pedicures. A chance to get pampered is never a bad thing. Gift cards to movie theaters or for a free month of Netflix are also neat goodies and appreciated by educators. (Netflix gift cards can be purchased through PayPal, Amazon, Target or Walmart, and will allow the recipient to email or print off a code for their recipient.)
Overwhelmingly, the number one gift teachers loved receiving were items that were personal and from the heart. I am not talking about cute crafts from a home interior store or wall decor with insightful sayings. I am talking about “from the heart” items that are made and created by the kids and their family.
*A Handwritten Note: Receiving something handwritten by a student and/or their parents easily won the prize for most popular gift among the teachers I consulted. I learned that the more specific the note, the better because many educators will keep these touching messages forever and look back on them fondly. We all love to hear we are making a difference, so putting pen to paper and letting a teacher know that they are remarkable is an important thing to do. (It is also easy!)
*All Things Monogrammed: If a parent or guardian needs to go above and beyond a simple letter, then it is good to know that creatively monogrammed gifts ranked pretty high with teachers. Stampers or stationary never go out of style, and if your child really knows their teacher and can pass along reliable information about a favorite author, poet, or musician…well that enables a parent to go go out and find the perfect notebook, journal, coffee cup mug, or sports bottle to be engraved with a teacher’s initials, a fun lyric or special literary passage.
*Simple Pleasures: Another personal gift idea that got high accolades was when students noticed what their teachers liked and disliked. A lot of days are spent in the classroom together, and a few educators explained how they very much enjoyed getting Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper, dark chocolates, or glossy pens from their students because the kids took the time to notice how much the teacher liked these things during the school year.
Presents to Avoid
Every single teacher I surveyed loved the kindness shown to them via gifts. Many of them said that presents were not even necessary, so while I am adding a section about avoiding certain gifting categories, please know that teachers work hard and want only the best for our kiddos. They are in no way grumbling at night regarding the generosity of parents and students.
*Clothing: It is difficult enough to buy clothes for oneself or close family members, therefore it is probably never okay to buy shirts, sweaters, or ties for a teacher. If you want to help them out in the wardrobe department, buy a gift card to clothing store. *Or just see above for even better gift card suggestions.
*Scented candles, soaps, and lotions: These gifts are typically considered to be highly popular for teachers, but it is most likely due to that overwhelming popularity that they should be avoided. A person can only burn so many candles in a year, plus the scents we put on our bodies should be decided by the individual. A lot of people have sensitive noses or can only use a specific brand of soap or lotion, therefore while the thought is nice, these bath and body type goodies seem to get re-gifted more than they get used by teachers.
*Sweets: Cookies, candies, fudge, and popcorn are all typically common presents because a lot of people have a sweet tooth. However too many sweets can give a teacher a tummy ache or lead down a road that detours them off of their healthy living plan. Homemade goods should also be avoided unless you know the teacher very (very, very) well. A lot of households have food allergies or a wariness to eating things that come from a stranger’s kitchen.
What are your go-to gifts for teachers? Do you agree or disagree with this list?
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