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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.