Have I mentioned yet how excited I am about summer?
Yes? Okay. Moving on…
With summer a-comin’, it’s time for lots of you to say goodbye to your child’s teacher. As a teacher myself, I thought I’d share some ideas for popular teacher gifts around my school. Even if you don’t want to spend a lot, or if your child has multiple teachers so you can’t do something big for all of them, it is still a really nice gesture to send a little thank you gift to a teacher. Even if it’s just a note. Often times, teaching is a pretty thankless job. Our students very rarely appreciate their school years, so it really means a lot to hear from a parent that your classroom has made a difference because at the end of the day, that’s really all a teacher wants – to make a difference to someone.
Here are a few fun little gift ideas for teachers, organized by category:
Gift cards are a super choice because they are easy for you to buy and fun for your teacher to spend. But if you can make it personal, it makes it seem more like a thoughtful gift than an “I-am-giving-you-money-because-you-taught-my-kid-to-read” gift. Try to connect the location of the gift card to your child or the teacher’s subject in some way. As an English teacher, I have my own class library that I personally buy books for. A Barnes and Noble gift card would be perfect for my classroom. A teacher supply store card is pretty great, too, since most of us have to purchase our own classroom decor and necessities with our own money. My favorite gift card, though, is for an office supply store because in my school, we have to buy our own ink cartridges and reams of paper that we use for the year. Any extra help buying classroom supplies is greatly appreciated!
(SIDE NOTE: If you’re wondering what supplies your teachers have to pay for, simply call the front office and ask either the receptionist or the bookkeeper what supplies your teachers are provided at the beginning of the year.)
1. An office supply store gift card
2. A bookstore gift card
3. A teacher supply store gift card (jackpot!)
4. A Dunkin’ Donuts gift card
5. A Starbucks gift card
6. A Target gift card
Practical but fun gifts for daily use (either in the classroom or out) are always a big hit. For a secret Santa exchange at my school one year, another teacher gave me a box full of desk supplies – paper clips, post-it notes, pencils, pens, red pens, etc. It wasn’t anything expensive, but it was all stuff that totally saved me a trip to the store for myself. Another big one I love are acrylic cups. These are pretty popular these days, so you can find them anywhere. But they are super helpful for teachers who can’t leave their room during the day to get to the drink machine. Just about every teacher I know has an acrylic cup and straw on their desk at all times. You can fill these with just about anything – candy, gift cards, tea or coffee, colored shredded paper, pencils, erasers, dry erase markers, etc. Super cute and not terribly expensive.
7. Acrylic cup filled with goodies
8. Acrylic monogrammed cup
9. Basket of small desk supplies
10. A big pack of fun colored pens, markers, or Sharpies
11. Personalized notepads
12. Personalized note cards (“From the Desk of Mrs…”)
13. Fun stamps and ink pads for grading papers (Michael’s sometimes has these in their $1 bin)
Bean and Gracie each have three teachers in their classrooms at daycare, so we really can’t afford to do elaborate or even personalized gifts for each of them. Instead, I go for clever and crafty. For Teacher Appreciation Week, I got each teacher a multipack of Extra chewing gum ($2.00 a pack at Target), printed a few clever little tags (“You’re EXTRA special to me!”), tied some curly ribbon around it and voila! A little something to tell them we appreciate what they do for our kids. I got the idea from this website and they have a lot more little craft ideas if you’re looking for something clever.
I think the trick with small gifts is to make them thoughtful and personalized. It doesn’t take a lot to make a teacher (or anyone!) feel special. Just as long as it is sincere and makes them feel like you were thinking about them.
14. Candy with a message (“OWL miss you”)
15. Personalized pencils (“Mrs. Brown’s Classroom”)
16. A houseplant (“Thank you for helping me GROW this year”)
If your child only has one teacher, or if there’s someone special you really want to go above and beyond to thank, I think summer-themed gifts are a great end of the year option. Teachers are just as excited about having summers off as students are, so most of us are ready for sunshine by the end of the school year. Themed gifts are a pretty great way to go, no matter what time of year or what theme, actually.
17. Summer survival kits (beach towel, sunglasses, magazines, sun screen, flip flops, etc.)
18. Gardening kits (gardening gloves, seed packets, spade, watering can, sun screen, etc.)
19. Summer scented goodies from Bath and Body Works
20. A gift certificate for a pedicure at a local nail salon
21. Poolside fun kit (inflatable pool float, drink coozie, freezer pops, beach towel, etc.)
Another option besides large gift baskets are to get smaller items that you have personalized or monogrammed for the teacher. These are extra awesome if they are practical gifts that are just so snazzy a teacher probably wouldn’t buy them for herself.
22. Monogrammed hand sanitizers (these are surprisingly affordable!)
23. Personalized lunch bag
24. Personalized key chain
25. Personalized lanyard for their school ID
If you’re looking for clever ideas for packaging, try giving your gift in something that your teacher can reuse in their classroom.
26. A brightly colored plastic crate
27. A solid color, simply canvas beach tote
28. A metro basket (this link is to one at Target, but I’ve found them much cheaper at Walmart and Home Goods)
29. A picnic basket
30. A wicker basket
Whatever you do – whether it is big and elaborate or small and sincere – you should know that the greatest gifts I have ever received were hand written notes. One from the student is really sweet and a great memento for a teacher, but be sure to include one from yourself as well. Parents who explain ways they have seen their child grow because of their education can articulate what a child cannot. I love knowing that parents see the same growth in their child at home as I see in my classroom. Whatever gift you give, or even if you don’t give a gift, be sure you include a note from both the child and the parent. It will make your teacher’s day!
Most of these ideas – and about a billion others – can be found on Pinterest. Either check out my “Gift Ideas” board, or search Pinterest for “teacher gifts.” You’re bound to find something that floats your boat. (For things I found on Pinterest (all of these pictures), I tried to link up today when I could, but some pictures didn’t have links available.)
Happy summer from a teacher who is counting down the days!