The teacher on your gift list is no different from anyone else. You want to choose a present for all your recipients, including your teacher, that suits their interests, personality and stage of life.
The old standard for teachers used to be a coffee mug filled with candies or maybe a homemade holiday cranberry bread. But with easy access to personalized goods these days – think Etsy – and an enthusiasm for buying local, dozens more choices for teachers exist. And if the teachers did any of their instructing online from home this school year because of the pandemic, we got a glimpse into their lives at home and maybe picked up some gift hints.
If you’re stumped about what to give to teachers this year, GOBankingRates put together a list of ideas. They include presents ranging from a classroom group gift to those from the heart that cost no money but will have a lasting impact.
1. The Classroom Gift
Room parents often will organize one larger gift, allowing families to contribute what they can afford with each student signing the card. The average salary for a starting teacher in the 2019-20 school year – the most recent year for which statistics are available – was just above $41,000, according to the National Education Association. Teachers, especially those in their early careers, just might appreciate some of these splurges.
- Teachers deserve to treat themselves, and gift cards to local spas and salons allow them to do just that. Find a spa or nail salon near school, so your favorite teacher can book an appointment and head over when the school day ends or on the holiday break.
- If your teacher has an interest in the arts, a gift card to the local playhouse for a pair of tickets to an upcoming production undoubtedly would be appreciated.
- A gift card to one of your town’s more elegant restaurants would give your teacher and a spouse, significant other or friend a nice evening out. Does your teacher have a big family? A gift card for a food delivery service in a value large enough to feed the kids for a dinner or two could give your teacher the most precious gift of all – time around the dinner table with the family with no cooking or cleanup.
- If you aren’t as sure of your teacher’s hobbies or favorite restaurants, there’s nothing wrong with turning to some of the most popular national retailers for one or two bigger gift cards.
- Get all the parents together and pitch in for one or two bigger gift cards to places like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s or Nordstrom. This way, your teacher can pick out what he or she really needs or wants. If there are 25 students in class, and each family contributes only $10, you’ll be able to surprise your teacher with an unexpectedly large gift.
2. Homemade Gifts
- Children in elementary school have unlimited creativity, and the older students often have unlimited talent. The result could be something the teacher will treasure, from a wreath made of crayons by a second grader to a pencil sketch an aspiring artist in high school made of the teacher’s child from a picture on the desk.
- A homemade ornament can help your teacher remember you for years to come. Parents and kids can check out ideas for easy, adorable ornaments to make on Pinterest or other websites.
- If your room parent has snapped photos of classroom activities in the first half of the year, ask to have copies emailed to you. Parents can have them printed at the drug store and work with their kids to make a scrapbook of the first half of the school year. This is an ideal gift for first-year teachers, especially. They’ll want to remember their first class of students.
3. Other Gift Cards
There’s a gift card for everything these days, isn’t there? One of these certainly will suit your teacher, and even if your family only has $5 budgeted for a teacher’s gift, that will be plenty.
- Early days and packed schedules mean that many teachers rely on regular cups of joe to make it through. Support your favorite teacher’s caffeine habit with a gift card to a coffee shop near school, such as Dunkin’, Starbucks, Caribou or even McDonald’s.
- No, teachers don’t get tired of reading. In fact, Barnes & Noble gift cards for books or gift cards to Amazon.com for hard copies of books or the Kindle versions will be appreciated.
- Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies and decorations. As a result, they usually appreciate gift cards to office supply stores such as Staples and Office Depot, or big-box stores like Walmart and Target. A $20 gift card can go a long way toward helping new teachers stock up their classrooms.
- Teachers play a huge role in their communities, and many enjoy supporting the local businesses that reside there. If your town has a popular gift shop or something similar, consider purchasing a gift card for that establishment.
- How about a gift to help a teacher during a rainy day indoor recess? If you have an elementary schooler, think beyond typical school supplies and consider, instead, classroom games and books for the class library. Budget around $15 to $20, then check out Walmart and Target for fun games and books for the little ones.
- Pick up on cues about what’s really important to your teacher. Is she a mother of a little one? She’d probably appreciate a blanket specially knit for her baby or a board book for her toddler more than anything for herself. Is she always sipping flavored water at her desk? A six-pack would make an ideal gift.
- Teachers don’t have much time during their lunch period– they’re often prepping for their next classes or tutoring students. As a result, they tend to brown bag it most days. Make your teacher’s life a little easier with a reusable lunch bag. Target offers spacious thermal options for $10 to $20.
- A box of chocolates is a great way to show your favorite teacher she’s doing a sweet job. Impress your child’s instructor with a decadent selection of treats that you can find at Walmart for around $10 or less.
5. The Heartfelt Gifts
- Hand-written thank you notes are thoughtful gifts. Not only is this gift inexpensive – just the cost of the card if you don’t make one yourself. It’s also a thoughtful way to show your appreciation. Teachers get into the profession to make a difference on the lives of students. A note will show them they’ve succeeded.
- Notes from parents to administrators – the principal, superintendent or members of the school board, even – describing a teacher’s contributions to their children’s education also are appreciated. As a society, we’re often quick to complain but slow to heap praise. Such a note about a teacher could reverse that.
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