The end of the school year is upon most of us and that means it is also time to find teacher gifts! The teacher present is a bit challenging as most of us don’t know the teacher all that well personally and have to walk a fine line between giving a thoughtful and appreciated gift but not going overboard and embarrassing the teacher with an extravagant gift.
What are some ideas for teacher gifts?
When I was doing some reading on Christmas presents a while back, one source mentioned that the tradition of Christmas presents for friends and neighbors began in large part when parents of schoolchildren gave money to the local school teacher at Christmas to help the teacher with living expenses.
With many school budgets being slashed and teacher wages frozen, I am sure many teachers still desire money as their first choice of present. One resourceful mom in my daughter’s preschool class organized a group Visa gift card from several parents. I once gave a creative teacher a gift card to Michael’s and she was very appreciative as she could use it to buy supplies she needed for the classroom.
If you aren’t comfortable giving money, however, what else might you give the teacher?
The Gift of Thanks
The gifts that have received the biggest teacher response have been homemade thank you cards. I have a very simple formula I use for mine.
First, at some point during the school year (preferably at a time when everyone is nicely dressed, such as a school program) take a picture of your child with his/her teacher. Print out the photo in 4”x6” (or smaller) size.
Fold a colorful piece of paper of your choosing in half lengthwise, and glue the photo to the front.
Run a line of glue that says “Thank you” and add glitter.
Write a nice message on the inside (or, have your child do it) and you are done! One year all I gave the teachers were cards and nothing else. I am sure for many teachers this is present enough.
Other Token Gifts
I suspect that most teacher presents fall into the “token gifts” category. Imagine if you were a teacher and received a ton of these every year. Last Christmas, I was absolutely shocked by the number of gifts the teachers received from parents. It was an entire table full! I have no idea what was in all of those presents but I imagine it must get overwhelming.
Unless if you know the teacher well and what he/she would like as a present, it is probably best to stick to consumables (i.e. things that can be used up quickly or can be easily given away to others who need them). The two most popular are probably food and bath and body products.
This year, I found a great sale at Bath & Body Works and created some cute teacher gift bags with a hand soap, body wash and lip balm. Thanks to a clever sales associate who steered me toward the clearance table, the entire gift cost less than $15, wrapping included!
Bath & Body Works is a great store for teacher gifts since the fragrances are unique and there is something for everyone. While their specialty is anti-bacterial hand soaps (which certainly come in useful for any teacher), after reading one too many cautions on triclosan (the active ingredient in antibacterial hand soaps), I have stopped using them in my household. Bath & Body Works’ selection of non-antibacterial hand soaps is far more limited (but still wonderful) but their shampoos, body wash and other products can be substituted instead.
Box Tops Reminder
Finally, a reminder that if your school collects them, now is a great time to gather up your supply of box tops and labels for education and drop them in the school office. While it may seem a small thing to clip these little 10 cent labels from various boxed and canned goods, the dollars add up over time, with $400 million paid out to schools since 1996! If you are wondering how much your school earns each year from box tops, the boxtops4education.com site allows you to look up your school.
Do you give teacher gifts? For all the teachers/school employees out there, what gifting guidelines would you pass along to parents? Please share in the comments.