With teacher appreciation week comes a flood of gifts to the classroom. Some of these gifts are fantastic and useful, but other times, teachers are at a loss for what to do with them. Mugs, food, and apple-themed gifts are abundant. However, sometimes shelves are full of these items, and food allergies sometimes prevent them from partaking in some gifts. Rather than giving unusable gifts, let’s look at some other options.
Resist the urge to purchase gift cards for your child’s teacher to office supply or school supply havens. You want your child’s teacher to spend the money on themselves if possible. Try to find out their favorite stores or restaurants and get them gift cards to those places. If you aren’t sure, look for some great local stores. Target and Walmart are great for teacher budgets, but most of that money will probably be funneled back into the classroom.
Teachers deserve to relax. Consider getting your favorite teacher tickets to the theater, local attractions, or venues. Let your child’s teacher know that you see how hard they work to make your child’s life better. You recognize the educational influence they have over your children, and an experience gift can be a fabulous way to show that.
Pampering or Hobbies
If your child’s teacher likes makeup, hair care, or getting manicures, consider a spa day or other pampering activity. However, many teachers are not into this type of pampering. They do have hobbies and interests. Try to purchase items to help with their hobbies. Paints, art supplies, fishing lines, and home improvement gift cards can also be fantastic gifts for hard-working teachers.
Spend time helping the teacher do their job a little more efficiently. You may not spend much on gifts for the teachers, but spending a little time in the classroom helping out is almost always welcomed. Take the class for recess or lunch, or read to them while the teacher does other necessary duties. If your children are older and in middle or high school, you can still volunteer to do things to make the teacher’s job easier. Do errands around the school or take a trip to the office supply store for notebooks, pens, or papers. You can do this once a month and on your own time if you can’t be present in the classroom.
Organize a Class Gift
Get the students and parents together to get a better present for the teacher if they have gone above and beyond their call of duty. Consider creating a basket of several items to make the teacher feel loved. Each family can contribute a small gift or amount to produce a large gift from the entire class. If you have families that cannot afford to participate, you can ask them to design artwork or help prepare the gift. No one should feel left out if their funds are low.
You can do things that do not cost money. As mentioned, volunteering is often a welcomed change from traditional gifts. However, some parents cannot afford to take time off work to volunteer and spend time at school. In those cases, you can still participate in teacher appreciation week. Volunteer to bring lamination home to cut out for teachers, sort copied pages and staple booklets, or write names on labels from home. Some teachers change labels monthly, and it takes time to write the students’ names on each of the die cuts. You might also consider donating unused toys or books to the classroom. The teacher spends hundreds of dollars on classroom supplies each year. Alleviate some of that burden with things that you cannot use in your home that may be useful in the classroom. If you have a coupon for a free box of tissues, sanitizing wipes, or hand sanitizer, consider donating the free one to the classroom.
Teacher bags are fantastic, but they wear out over time. Consider purchasing a personalized bag for the teacher to hold more than one book. Pens, pencils, and paper are also welcome additions to their bags. Journals, calendars, and planners also get used quickly. You might even consider including a small photo album with a snapshot of the class. Each year the teacher can add a new photo of her outstanding students.
Blankets, socks, or umbrellas are generally welcome gifts. Even male teachers enjoy staying dry in the rain or having a nice blanket to keep warm in the winter. So many teacher gifts are female-oriented that male teachers sometimes get left out. Consider making a blanket that allows each student to create a quilt square and sew them together. Not only will the blanket be a welcome addition, but it will also carry a piece of the class for years to come.
Food and drinks can be dangerous if the teacher has food allergies. However, if you get to know the teacher throughout the year, you can often find their favorite treats and drinks. Fill a basket with chips, candy, cookies, and beverages that the teacher loves. Personalization means more than a generic basket of food they may not like or be able to eat.
Whether you purchase or design for the teacher this year, do it with love. The teacher loves your children and what they do more than you can imagine. Teachers aren’t in the profession to make millions of dollars. They do it to ensure that your child receives a quality education. All they need is to feel appreciated. Be sure that if you buy classroom supplies, they are of good quality. You do not want to cost the teacher more money replacing inferior items. However, quality does not have to mean expensive. Spend the year buying small items on sale and put them in a gift basket with a heartfelt message.