6 Specific Tips to Take Teacher Gift Card Gifts Personally

Most teachers treasure receiving gifts of recognition from students and families at the holidays. Teachers, work long and hard to build positive connections, often without clear evidence that these efforts are working. Brief chats at conferences aren’t always filled with clues. It’s difficult for many teachers to know how families truly feel about their hard work to reach and teach their kids.

As described in Class Teacher Gifts: Teacher Gift Card Pros and Cons, our recent blog post, the holiday season and Teacher Appreciation Week in May are two times of year when families typically want to express their appreciation of teachers. One teacher gift-giving plan that’s popular today is that of giving teachers generic credit card gift cards at both the holidays and at the end of the school year. Sometimes, individual families choose to give gift cards. Other times, the class will get together and purchase one bigger gift card for the teacher.

Six Specific Tips Turn Gift Cards into Great Gifts
Gift card gifts are very popular because of their convenience and universality. Many teachers like getting a lump sum gift instead of umpteen $5.00 coffee cards, but still, gift cards can feel impersonal when compared to a gift that was chosen expressly for you as a teacher, based on your interests, shared class experiences, and the direct relationship the kids have with you, a key role model in their world. If you’re a teacher and you expect to or have received a gift card from your class this holiday season, there are lots of creative ways to make that paper certificate, little plastic card, or online string of numbers feel very personal.

Teachers can turn generic gift cards into great, personally meaningful gifts using these six specific tips:

  1. Commit to yourself that you will spend the gift card on something for yourself. If you can’t afford to do that with the entire amount, make this commitment for least part of it.
  2. Spend it on a specific part of a special event. If you’re planning a holiday vacation, choose one day and let that day or a particular meal/activity come from your class. How memorable would that parasailing excursion be for you and your class? Share photos with the kids after break.
  3. Add to a specific part of another purchase or enhance something existing. The card amount could pay for that upgraded vegetable drawer in a new refrigerator or for fancy drawer knobs to update a dresser.
  4. Save the card for a special day. Spend it on your birthday or your school anniversary. Set monthly phone reminders to add to a wish list of items/ideas. Put the card in a safe spot so you’ll find it on your special day.
  5. Spend the gift card on something you’ll use/see daily to remind you of your class. A tote bag, laptop case, or accessories for your desk at school keep your class’s appreciation gesture, front and center all year long. Check out teacherpeach.com for ideas.
  6. Spend the gift card on something memorable you wouldn’t otherwise do. Tickets to the hot new play, yoga class fees and a snazzy yoga mat, or reframing that print above the sofa are great examples.

Hide the Card till January
One plus to gift cards is you don’t have to spend them immediately. They’re good for a year or longer. One teacher shared an idea from her principal. Lots of other teachers embraced this, too.

“I used to run out and spend my class gift card on gifts for my family. Then my principal suggested I hide it away until January instead. I tried it that year, and have done so ever since. Now we have a tradition: I take my family out for our ‘class’ breakfast over break and pay with the gift card. Then, I go online and spend the rest on myself. I buy one special thing I can use for my job. I choose something that not only reminds me all year long that I’m doing good work with my school kids, I choose something I can also show to my class to share what I bought with their gift. Everybody wins!”

Thank You Notes for Every Student
As you get ready to thank your students and their families for gifts you receive this holiday season, consider using these teacher thank you notes from Teacher Peach. These notes are right sized for brief, meaningful expressions of thanks. Available in two designs—intermediate and primary—notecards come in packs of two sets of 10 with 10 envelopes each. When writing notes, even for generic gift cards, be specific. In the case of gift cards, tell your students what you purchased or plan to purchase with their gift.

Thank You Cards Teacher Peach Thank You Note Cards

Really Great Gifts for Really Great Teachers
If you’re a teacher who’s recognized with a generic gift card, check out the really great products for really great teachers from Teacher Peach. There are terrific teacher accessories from which to choose—tote bags, drinkware, lunch bags, desk accessories, and much more—just for teachers. Between now and December 31st, your gift card will go even further at Teacher Peach. You’ll save $15 on every order of $75 or more between now and the end of this year.

Teacher Peach Save $15

How do you spend your gift card gifts? Do you have ideas and thank-you note strategies to add to the ones in this post? We want to hear from you.

 

Class Teacher Gifts: Teacher Gift Card Pros and Cons

Teachers value gifts from their students, no matter the form. What truly matters during this gift-giving season is that teachers feel appreciated and families feel that they have acknowledged the great work teachers do all year long. Deep down, though, everyone wants to give and receive a gift that really delights!

The holiday season and Teacher Appreciation Week in May are two times of year when families typically want to express their appreciation of teachers. That said, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for everyone. Most gift givers begin with high intentions to choose gifts that are personal and meaningful for everyone on their list. When the sand runs out of the shopping hourglass, though, many busy families revert to quicker, universal gifts.

One teacher gift-giving plan that’s popular today is that of giving teachers generic credit card gift cards at both the holidays and at the end of the school year. Sometimes, individual families choose to give gift cards. Other times, the class will get together and purchase one bigger gift card for the teacher. Lots of people seem to have opinions about these gestures so Teacher Peach took a closer look.

Class Gifts Are in the Cards
Some schools encourage families to contribute to an official class gift. In these cases, the room representative usually collects a suggested amount of money at Go-to-School Night from those families that wish to contribute. The rep typically buys a generic credit card gift card, signs a holiday card from the entire class, puts the gift card in the envelope, and pops it in the teacher’s mailbox before break.

The concept of the universal gift card began with two good intentions. A gift card gives the teacher one bigger amount of money to buy a more significant gift instead of receiving a cacophony of small items. A gift card gift also protects all families in the class through its anonymity model. There are lots of PROs and CONs to this approach.

Pros and Cons of Generic Gift Card Teacher Gifts:

  1. PRO: Teachers receive a dollar amount to spend with great freedom.
  2. CON: Teachers don’t have a direct sense of how families feel about their work and don’t really have the chance to directly connect with those who contributed to the gift.
  3. PRO: When teachers know, based on their school’s protocol, that there is a very high likelihood of receiving a generic gift card, they can anticipate its arrival and plan how they’ll spend it.
  4. CON: Because teachers know they are likely to receive a generic gift card, actually receiving one can feel somewhat perfunctory at times. (Everyone knows what’s in the bag!)
  5. PRO: Some room reps do more than leave the gift in the teacher’s mailbox. They come into the classroom and actually present the gift in front of all of the kids and many even invite family members to join them.
  6. CON: As lovely as this gesture may be, it’s not very practical for working family members to join in this presentation during a school day at this hectic time of year.
  7. PRO: Giving a gift card makes the money collection process a simple one when it is tied to Go-to-School Night. It simplifies the group decision-making process, too.
  8. CON: Families spend hard-earned money contributing to a gift with little input as to the specific gift card their money will help to buy or what the teacher ultimately will purchase.
  9. PRO: The holiday season is one where some extra cash can come in handy. In fact, some teachers appreciate receiving gift cards as ready cash to buy gifts for others on their own shopping lists.
  10. CON: When teachers elect to spend their gift cards as cash, the intent of giving teachers the chance to buy themselves gifts they’ll really enjoy disappears. There is no lasting reminder of the class’s gift.
  11. PRO: Collecting money for gift cards anonymously makes it optional for families to contribute. This is helpful when families simply prefer to give their own gifts separate from the class gift as well as when families cannot afford to contribute. Students don’t know, teachers don’t know, and the class comes together as one cohesive entity.
  12. CON: The protective anonymity of the class gift can sometimes backfire. Class gifts are given from the entire class, regardless of which families actually choose or are able to contribute. Because teachers don’t know which families actually contribute, they personally thank each student/family. This note, instead of delivering the intended heartfelt thanks, can make those unable to contribute feel worse when they receive a thank-you note for a gift they could not be part of giving.
  13. PRO: Because funds are often collected very early in the school year, contributing to a gift card is simple and takes away the need to think about finding a teacher gift at the holidays. It’s already done.
  14. CON: It’s very early in the school year when gift card funds are collected at September’s Go-to-School Night. This event is also the first time many families and teachers meet. They don’t know one another in many cases and are simply giving money, much like they would to a class activity fund.

It’s All Good When Teachers Are Acknowledged!
By the December holidays, most families and students have solid relationships with their teachers. The early contribution to a class gift card, while convenient, often feels detached from the actual relationship the families and teachers have established. As a result, many of these families (and kids!) want to do more and some elect to give their own additional gifts, independent of the class gift. The families know much more about the teacher’s interests and preferences by this point. Often, the kids have very set ideas about what their teacher will like, too. When this happens, the class gift card comes to the rescue. While some families may opt to give more, everyone feels a part of the class gift through the giving of the class gift card, thanks to its anonymity.

All Gifts Count
As these PROs and CONs show, gift cards can be great time savers, equalizers, and offer benefits to everyone involved. At the same time, gift cards can feel impersonal to all concerned. These sentiments aside, all gifts count when they are given with heart!

Teachers Appreciate and Acknowledge Gifts
Teachers greatly appreciate the gifts they receive, regardless of form—from homemade to store bought and from thoughtful cards to generic gift cards. In most cases, every teacher gift is immediately acknowledged. A “Thank You” and “Have a Wonderful Winter Break” note is often in students’ hands or hits the mailbox by the time the just-before-break school bell rings.

Teacher Gift CertificateWhatever gift families may choose to give to teachers this holiday season, by remembering the intent behind the gift, every gift will be special. For families that would like to give a gift certificate with all the convenience of a gift card combined with a specific, teacher-centric twist, choose a gift certificate from Teacher Peach. The certificate is quick and easy to download and print out; roll it and tie it with a ribbon. Giving this certificate, while just like a gift card, can seem much more personal to teachers because it directly connects the appreciation to the teacher’s profession.

What do you think about gift cards as a gift-giving strategy for teachers? Where do you fall on the gift-card giving spectrum? We’d like to hear from you.

5 Tips for Finding Meaningful and Appropriate Teacher Gifts

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A Personal Item
    Sweet Sips Water BottlesIf 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.

  1. 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.

    Teacher Peach Wish List

    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!

  1. 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.
    Teacher Peach Gift SetTeacher Gift Set
  1. 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.
  1. 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?
    Teacher Peach 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?
    Teacher's Only Marker SetPocket Folders
    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.
    Teacher Peach's Pet Products
    Watch teachers leaving school. Would a snazzy “I Teach.” Jumbo Tote complete her professional look? Totes make great teacher appreciation gifts.
    Teacher Peach JUMBO TOTETeacher Peach Jumbo Rainbow Black Tote
  1. 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.
    Teacher Gift Certificate

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.