By Rachel H, Triad Smarty Pants
Teachers might as well be the target of Donna Summer’s song “She Works Hard for the Money.” Teachers put in a full day of work inside the school walls, but also spend hours upon hours planning, grading, and assessing at home as well. We all want to show them our appreciation at the holidays. Even if you are low on money this year, a handmade card or treat from the student is always cherished. I have a few favorite gifts from all price ranges that I received throughout my years of teaching. I hope these ideas are helpful as you make your gift lists this year.
Most classes these days decide to go in on a gift together. This is a wonderful idea. The downfall is the fact that not everyone can afford to contribute the same amount of money. The upside is that when collecting a little bit of money from everyone, the class can surprise the teacher(s) with a wonderful gift…
If your class decides to do a class gift together, gift cards are always a fantabulous way to go. Use your super sleuth ways to find out your teacher’s favorite restaurants, clothing stores, coffee houses, spas, book stores, or gift shops. It is fun to get an assortment of gift cards and present them to the teacher in creative ways. You can attach all the cards around a wreath or put them on sticks that are in a poinsettia, or write a poem to go along with each gift certificate as he/she opens the cards.
Other great ideas for collaborative class gifts:
Put together a scrapbook for the teachers. Each child will have their picture on one page and a letter (or illustration for younger kids) on the facing page. I received this one year from a second grade class and it is always fun to go back and read the letters they wrote to me. The accompanying pictures are perfect reminders of past students.
A VISA gift card is an easy way to let the teacher choose how he/she wants to spend the money. Be aware that there is an additional charge for these cards most of the time.
CASH – one year my swim team asked each child to bring in two one-dollar bills. I had about 125 kids I coached that year and they presented me with a box filled with 250 one-dollar bills. It was so fun to open and even more fun to spend! This is a great idea for a special area, middle school, high school, or resource teacher who sees hundreds of students throughout their day.
Another idea is a homemade project by the students. One year a class parent made a beautiful wooden bench for me. Each student painted a bug or flower on the bench. They all wrote their names on the bottom. This is still on my porch and we use it all the time.
If your class is not doing a group gift, here a few ideas to do on your own:
First and foremost, anything that has an apple or says “A+ Teacher” or “Teachers Have Class” is really sweet, but overdone. I cannot tell you how many magnets, ornaments, mugs and doodads I have accumulated over the years with these phrases. There is one exception – if the student has somehow personalized it, I love it! For example, when pulling out my Christmas ornaments last year, I came across a bunch of “#1 Teacher” ornaments and ended up not hanging any of them on my tree because they really didn’t mean anything. But, when I came across the little chalkboard that said “A+ Teacher” with a picture of the student who gave it to me taped to the back, I hung that baby front and center on the tree! It made me smile to see little Jeremy’s face from 10 years ago and it sparked wonderful memories of those years. So, if you are going to buy a gift along these lines, just add a little something personal from the student and you are good to go!
I don’t think teachers can ever have too much stationery, so any type of notepads or cards are terrific. If it is personalized, even better!
Another idea is to take a look at all the notes that have some home asking for class supplies. Gather a basket of these needed items such as copy paper, glue sticks, markers, crayons, etc and wrap it up to look festive. I know you want to give a gift to the teacher, not the class, but most teachers end up spending their own money to buy these essentials anyway, so you have just saved them time and money.
Make it personal – I had a parent one year who knew I was into cheesy top 40 music, so she always gave me a CD at the holidays. If your teacher enjoys music, an iTunes card or a newly released CD is great. If they like going out to eat – get a gift card for a restaurant. If they like sports, buy a memento with their favorite team on it. If they like crafts – an AC Moore gift card would be perfect.
One final idea – food! Some of you mommas can make the best banana breads, cookies and apple cider in the world. Teachers love these! If the teacher does not want the food personally, you know there will be out-of-town visitors that can enjoy them! And speaking of food, I had a parent in my class one year who would surprise me with lunch many times. If you know your teacher loves Chick-fil-A or a local deli, swing by with lunch one day. I am sure the lunch they had planned to buy at the cafeteria, or the yogurt cup sitting in the desk can be saved for another day!
Most of all, enjoy shopping this season! Don’t think of it as a dark cloud hanging over your head. Think of it as a way to make someone feel special and appreciated. If you have some great gift ideas for teachers, please share them below!
P.S. THE SMARTY ELVES HAVE BEEN HARD AT WORK BRINGING YOU FABULOUS GIVEAWAYS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!!
It’s not too late to register for the Children’s Theatre Smarty Giveaway! What a great way to start the holiday season! Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is giving one lucky reader a family four-pack to their newest production, Laura Numeroff’s, “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies”. This giveaway will run through Sunday, December 6th, so enter now for your chance to win. Click Here to enter.
The 2nd annual Santa’s Smarty Swag Bag Giveaway has arrived and you won’t want to miss out on this incredible opportunity to win BIG! CSP is featuring $2,000 worth of giveaway products to ONE lucky CSP reader! CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN THE SANTA’S SMARTY SWAG BAG GIVEAWAY, but first be sure you are a newsletter subscriber. (This is required for you to be eligible as a winner.) Our winner will be chosen at 11p on Sunday, December 13th by a random number search. We will contact you that day to let you know that you are our winner, and we’ll feature you as our Giveaway winner on CSP. Pass this blog along to your friends so that you can also be entered to win a free iPod! The more friends who register, the better your chances of winning!
Good luck and Happy Smartydays!
When I play the role of the room mom, I have had my children's teachers fill out a "Favorite Things" form that includes everything from their fav. place to eat to their favorite candle scent! The teachers LOVE this, by the way. And, the other parents really appreciate all the personal informatiom about the teacher! They can supply their own gift card based on the information. Or, buy a personal gift, noting the teacher's fav. color, scent, place to eat/shop. It makes the gifts "hit the mark" so to speak and we as moms know our gifts will be appreciated and used!!! One more question to add to the list…the teacher's b-day (just for future reference)!One year we put all the gift cards in a fun tote/purse and called it a "shopping spree" and another year we stuck on the gift cards on a rod iron, Christmas tree shaped card holder from Kirklands.
Love all of these ideas! I am always at a loss for an idea for my son's preschool teachers.
Southern Stationers always does me well. They have the cutest note pads, personalized gift items, and various other things! Prices are pretty good too!
As a teacher please no apples(unless it is one you could eat), unless they are a new teacher, most teachers have too many teacher themed gifts, I personally would love a gift card, even if it is only $5 That helps with all the money we put out during the year. I do like personalised gifts with the kids names.
One year our class moms put together a "money tree" that had rolled up 5s or 10s twistie tied to the tree, very cute, we have done visa gift cards, movie gift cards, manicure gift cards.
As the wife of a teacher, I can say Visa gift cards are the way to go! That way teachers can use the $$ for class supplies, scripts (Theatre teacher!!), or whatever bills are left over from living on a teacher's salary 🙂 🙂 Also, if the students are HS age and/or families want to offer this, a night of free kiddie sitting is an AWESOME present! We had a family offer to do this for us last year, and it gave us a great couples night out! A donation in a teacher's name to an org they support is also a great present. Great ideas, ladies! Thanks!!
Used this article for my kid's teachers this year!!!
One of my favorite gifts was to have moms and a dad drop off lovely snacks (mini sandwiches, cookies) and hot cider at our team meeting time. It was a great way for us to relax while we did business, and we felt pampered and appreciated. The kids had made cards that finished the sentence, "I like Ms. VV because…" My favorite comment was that they liked my stories about Indiana.Aunt Jeanne