The holiday gift-giving season is the perfect time for teacher appreciation. However, many families struggle to find appropriate teacher gifts for teachers. Some schools designate room representatives to collect money on a voluntary basis for a class teacher gift. Other schools leave teacher appreciation gifts up to individuals. Some families give teacher gifts; others don’t.
To show your teachers that your family appreciates them this holiday season, this article will help you choose terrific teacher gifts. Teacher Peach knows what teachers like, so our five tips for finding meaningful and appropriate teacher gifts will help you choose special and meaningful teacher gifts for the range of teachers on your list.
Four Typical Teacher Gift Categories
Typical teacher appreciation gifts fall into four main types, each with PROs and CONs. Review these common options before delving into the five tips. Looking first at what doesn’t always work will help you select an option that does work for your teachers!
- The Generic Gift Card
With collected money, classroom representatives often purchase generic gift cards from major credit card companies or chain stores.
PROs: These cards are easy to find, easy to give, and easy for teachers to spend almost anywhere. You don’t need to know anything about the teachers to choose this gift option.
CONs: A generic gift card is impersonal. Teachers often spend these gift cards immediately—on gifts for other people, not on themselves! Gift cards may offset holiday budget concerns, but they disappear quickly and teachers often end up with only receipts to remind them of your gesture.
- The Handmade Gift
Pinterest boards brim with ideas for handmade holiday teacher gifts. Many involve ready-made office supplies or foods wrapped with clever wording to personalize them. “You’re one smart cookie!” might be the tag for cookies or “You’re a sharp teacher!” might top a set of Sharpie® markers.
PROs: Making gifts can be fun for some. Cookies are popular handmade gifts. A handmade scarf might also be fun.
CONs: Handmade gifts are often pricier than they seem. By the time you buy ingredients and supplies and make gifts, dollars and hours can expand—at an already busy time of year. Homemade gifts are often consumable and, as with the generic gift card, are often shared by teachers with family and friends. Some schools have no-food policies, too.
- A Teacher-Specific Trinket
You’ll find what some consider humorous teacher trinkets and gifts. Many poke gentle fun at teaching. A T-shirt for math teachers might read, “I’ve got problems! I teach math!” Other items might include ornaments or mugs with apples, ABCs, or 123s, reading “World’s Best Teacher.” Some can be personalized: “Mr. Harris, World’s Best Teacher.”
PROs: These gifts focus on the teacher’s profession and may be perceived as more thoughtful than generic gifts. They’re also inexpensive. If you know teachers well enough to know such gifts would entertain, they may be good options.
CONs: Not every teacher appreciates this type of gift. Most teachers and schools strive to present highly professional and positive images. Some of these gifts might be seen as presenting the profession in a pejorative way. Others may appear too juvenile for teachers to display or carry. As one teacher said, “Just because I love teaching kindergarten doesn’t mean I want to ride the train with a bag covered in handprints and stick figures.” To personalize a gift often takes extra time so plan ahead; adding a teacher’s name makes the gift non-returnable and non-exchangeable.
- A Personal Item
If you know what interests the teachers on your list, personal items can be great gestures. Scarves and gloves are great for dismissal and recess. A book about rock climbing shows an avid climber/teacher you respect his/her outside interests. Tote bags, water bottles, and tech gear appeal to many teachers. Some have positive messages about teaching, too. Sweet Sips™ water bottles keep drinks hot for 6 hours and cold for 12; reading: “I THIRST for knowledge.”
PROs: These gifts signal you know the teachers in your world. Scarves fit most people. If you include a gift receipt, items may usually be returned.
CONs: When teachers share their interests, many in the class know about it. You could end up giving your horse-loving teacher one of seven horse motif mugs! You’ll also need to know sizes for some personal items.
5 Tips for Finding More Meaningful and Appropriate Teacher Gifts
Now that you’ve reviewed the more typical gifts, consider these 5 tips for finding meaningful and appropriate teacher gifts. Gift givers want to find just the right gifts for the teachers who teach their children.
- Wish Lists Help Everyone!
Both families and teachers love wish lists. Gift givers like buying from wish lists and teachers enjoy receiving gifts they really want. It means a lot to teachers to be asked to choose gifts that really appeal. It’s good to preview and provide links to one or two website wish lists to help teachers feel comfortable their choices are within your budget. Share work-related, not personal, wish list links like this link from teacherpeach.com, a great source for really great teacher gifts and accessories for really great teachers. This site helps you appropriately express your teacher appreciation this holiday season.
Check out the Wishlist link at the bottom of our website, teacherpeach.com. Use this private wishlist to select items that appeal to you. Once you have settled on your favorites, share them with friends, your family, and even with those student families that may ask what you’d like for the holiday. Because our wishlist is just for you, consider some of these options as ways to share out your finalists. It’s easy to make a Pinterest board of your favorites by clicking on the little red Pinterest graphic that appears on each product page or send screen shots or product links in an email. However you opt to do it, by making a few selections of your favorite gift ideas from Teacher Peach, you’ll set the stage for everyone to enjoy the holiday season—including you!
- Pool Resources for Bigger Gifts
Get together with other families to pool resources and purchase a more robust teacher’s gift set. Some sets, like the ones shown below, contain products for teachers, students, and classrooms. These gifts send supportive messages, adding value to teachers and students.
- Say the Word(s)!
If your budget won’t permit purchased or handmade teacher gifts, use words to send great messages. Help kids make lists of adjectives to describe their teachers’ qualities. Make lists of 12 Compliments, one for each day of the holidays. Have kids write 26 words about teachers—A to Z. The right words can make meaningful teacher gifts.
- Be a Gift Detective
Pop into class to scope out what’s missing on the teacher’s desk. Would a new stapler or “TEACH-CHOO!” tissue box spruce things up? How about an entire desk set?
Do you notice color-coding? Do bulletin boards indicate a creative streak? Would Sharpie® marker sets and cool pocket folders be great additions?
Do you spot a picture of a cat or recall your child sharing stories about his teacher’s big black lab? Gifts for a teacher’s furry friend is a great way to express thanks. The Real Teacher’s Pet™ products are just such a product line.
Watch teachers leaving school. Would a snazzy “I Teach.” Jumbo Tote complete her professional look? Totes make great teacher appreciation gifts.
- Choose Teacher Gift Certificates from a Teacher-Centric Gift Store
Choosing appropriate teacher gifts can be tough, but not impossible. What if you’ve reviewed teacher wish lists, chatted with other families, attempted thank-you lists, applied your best detective skills, and still can’t decide what teacher gift to choose for teachers who really matter? What if you’re just pressed for time? Choose gift certificates from a teacher-centric store to ensure the really great teachers in your world can make their own really great gift choices! Teacher Peach offers gift certificates in any dollar amounts for just such situations.
Put a Bow On Teacher Appreciation Gifts
From wish lists to tote bags and other teacher accessories, there are many meaningful ways to show teacher appreciation with great teacher gifts this holiday season. By planning ahead to take advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday deals, you can explore terrific teacher gift options—and save money. No matter what approach you choose, you’re not only expressing teacher appreciation—you’re also showing your kids that teachers give great gifts to your family every day.
Have other ideas for teacher gifts? Share your teacher gift-giving strategies here.