There are two times of the year when people start writing to me for ideas on teacher gifts. This happens right before the December holidays and again in May or June, right before the end of the school year. Parents want to know the etiquette of giving teachers gifts (do I give or do I not give?), what are good gifts to choose, and how much they should spend.
To make my advice easier to follow, I’ve broken out tips based on the “level” of school your child attends.
Teacher Gifts for Nursery and Preschool
Most nursery or preschool teachers spend a lot of time in the classroom or out on a playground, using their hands. Whether it’s pushing kids on the swings or washing out paintbrushes, these teachers deserve a gift of pampering.
How about a gift card for a manicure, pedicure or massage?
I love the notion of giving a Spafinder gift card, which gives the recipient the freedom to choose where she wants to get pampered.
Right now Spafinder has a deal for the holidays:
Another gift option is to give the teacher a book to read (for herself, not the classroom) or a gift card to a bookstore. What teacher wouldn’t love an Amazon Gift Card?!
If money is tight, a plate of homemade cookies–even the slice-and-bake variety–is wonderful. Teachers can share these with their colleagues. We love Ghirardelli mixes!
Teacher Gifts for Elementary School
I still love the notion of a gift card as a gift for an elementary school teacher. An Amazon Gift Card would work here, too.
Since I’ve run into my children’s teachers at the local java joint on school mornings, it dawned on me that a coffee gift card to help them with their morning Joe just might be the perfect teacher gift idea.
Another great idea for an elementary school teacher gift? A board game for the classroom, such as Connect 4, so the kids have something new to play with during indoor recess.
Finally, my friend Cristin sells teacher gift boxes, which would make a completely unique teacher gift. You can buy one of the boxes or sign up for her subscription service called The Pampered Teacher!
FYI, when my kids were in elementary school, I gave a gift to the primary classroom teacher and any assistants/student teachers. I also always gifted the specials’ teachers–figuring not many parents remembered those educators who are also an integral part of your child’s school experience.
Teacher Gifts for Middle and High School
Once again gift cards can come in handy as a teacher gift, even if you can only afford $5 or $10 each. This year many restaurants are offering free bonus gift cards when you buy a certain amount of gift cards, and this may help you get the gift cards you need at what amounts to a discount. (I recently wrote an article on Parade.com about gift card deals for the holidays.)
Another great option we have here in our school district–and you may, too–is an education fund that allows you to make a donation in the teachers’ names. The teachers are notified of your donation, and they are then open to apply for a grant to use this money to somehow better their classroom or their students’ educational experience. Best of all, I don’t have to donate a large amount to make a huge impact. And because this education fund is a legitimate 501(c)(3), my donation is tax deductible.
Teacher Gifts in College
Just kidding–you’re finally off the hook. Now it’s up to your kids (now adults) to figure out how to come up with teacher gifts for their professors!
Still stumped about teacher gifts? I know that a handwritten note from your child, telling a teacher how your son or daughter feels (in a good way) about being in that classroom, is probably the best gift of all that a teacher could receive.