Though our kids may steadfastly refuse to believe it, teachers are just people too, which means that they also could use a bit of relaxation from time to time. Teaching can be a high-stress job!
A day at the spa is definitely not in the budget given the typical teacher’s salary. And as much as it would be appreciated, buying a gift certificate for a massage or other spa treatment is probably too generous a gift (yes, it’s possible to have too generous a gift, especially given regulations that cover teachers as federal employees. See our advice page for more…) unless a teacher has really gone above and beyond the call of duty in their support of your child and you’re looking for a special way to say thank you.
However, a day at the spa is within the reasonable gift range if your child’s class has decided to pool money to purchase a single class gift (which is often organized by the PTA).
Or, consider a few simple products that will help the teacher make a “spa day” right at home. For example:
Looking for a great Christmas gift for teachers? Choosing the right gift for a teacher can be difficult — first, there is the question of how much to spend. Second, you might not know the teacher very well, which generally makes personal items like clothing or knick-knacks a poor choice. Last but not least, you may have to contend with school regulations and guidelines on gift giving which further limit your options.
Despite the seeming difficulty of choosing a Christmas gift for a teacher, the rewards can be worth it: some of the teachers I surveyed said that receiving gifts and thank you notes from their students (and their parents) was one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching. Some retired teachers I know have kept all of the thank you notes and gifts they’ve ever received over the years, proudly displaying them as evidence of the many lives they’ve touched. Teachers do one of the most important jobs out there, yet they generally don’t receive a lot of prestige (or pay). Giving a thoughtful gift is an opportunity for you to show how much you appreciate the work that they do. A great gift for teachers doesn’t have to cost a lot of money — the most important thing is the thoughtfulness and care you put in to the gift, which shows the teacher that you truly respect them and appreciate what they do — and that is a gift that they will truly always cherish!
“I am a preschool teacher and [...] I deeply treasure every gift I have received from every student and even write their names and the date on each one so when I get them out to display them every year I am reminded of them! These children are so proud of the gifts that they have lovingly picked out, I wouldn’t trade them for anything!” ~Teacher from Indiana
The following list of teacher Christmas gifts is just a starting point. Please make sure to also read my advice on how to choose a Christmas gift for a teacher, and my list of recommended gift ideas for teachers. You can also browse according to gift occasion, recipient, or type, by using the navigation menu on the right hand side of the page.
Growing up with both parents teachers at an urban public high school in California, I saw first-hand the impact that education budget cuts can have on teachers. My dad taught graphic arts, and frequently dug into his own pocket to keep his classroom supplied with printing equipment, inks, paper, and later, even desktop computers. Funding for vocational classes like his all but disappeared as higher-ups decided every student should be on a college track. To get the funds to keep his class relevant, my dad worked weekends and evenings printing brochures, newsletters, flyers, and T-Shirts for local businesses, plowing the proceeds back into classroom supplies.
My first “job” was screenprinting thousands of T-shirts for a local housing developer; I earned minimum wage but the classroom gained two new computers. Even many years later my dad still runs into students who thank him for what they learned in his class. Some are former gang members, or recent immigrants who barely spoke English — not typical college track — but they’ve been able to find good jobs in printing or graphic design thanks to having learned real world skills on up-to-date equipment.
The “Great Recession” Erased Many Teachers’ Budgets for Classroom Supplies
So it comes as no surprise to me to hear that many teachers are responding to draconian budget cuts by using their own money to purchase classroom supplies. As school districts across the country (CA, PA, OH, FL, NY, GA, ID, VA, HI, KS, and more…) contend with reduced funding, few classrooms are fully equipped with essentials like books, office supplies, craft materials, games, paints, puzzles, science projects and more.
At the same time, despite the clear preferences of teachers to the contrary, many well-intentioned (and equally cash-strapped) parents spend money buying the kinds of trinkets and knick-knacks that are frequently marketed as the “perfect holiday gifts for teachers“. Teachers don’t expect to receive Christmas gifts from their students, but in many schools it’s a fun tradition and a way for students (and parents) to show their appreciation.
Give the Gift Teachers Appreciate Most
I’ve yet to meet a teacher who would prefer an apple trinket or yet another coffee mug to school supplies, books, project materials, or other gifts that would benefit their entire classroom. Giving classroom supplies as a gift is better than traditional “teacher gifts” in several ways:
This year, if you’re in the fortunate position to be able to afford to have your kids take a Christmas gift to school for their teachers, consider ignoring the cute gift shop marketing, and instead gifting something much more practical, like classroom supplies.
If classroom supplies don’t seem like the most exciting gift idea to you, try these tips to turn even the most “boring” holiday present like a gift card or a box of paper and pencils into something unique and personalized that is fun both to give and to receive:
Finally, if you support the idea of “Chalk, Not Tchotchkes”, please consider spreading the word by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook or wherever your virtual friends hang out.
Most requested supplies:
See more of the most requested teaching supplies organized by grade level and subject area.
INFOGRAPHIC DATA SOURCES:
Special Thanks to St Louis graphic designer Blue Canary Design for the awesome art!
Looking for an easy way to let a special teacher know that you appreciate them going above and beyond? Here are 7 great gifts that are sure to be cherished, ranging in cost from free to a 20-spot (which is quite generous for a gift to an educator, according to our poll results). First, what is this holiday anyway, and what is expected of you?
Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States always takes place the first full week of May, and Teacher Appreciation Day is on Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Day. For 2012, Teacher Appreciation Week is from May 7th-11th, and Teacher Appreciation Day is on May 8th, 2012.
Over 20 different countries have a day dedicated to thanking teachers, many inspired by a 1994 UNESCO resolution designating October 5th as World Teachers’ Day in honor of the special contribution teachers make to society.
In many schools, the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) will organize activities to help students and parents learn more about the work that teachers do. Many schools have established gift-giving traditions where parents or students will bring small gifts or thank you cards to their teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s appropriate to give a gift for Teacher Appreciation Day, check with your local PTA or the school district office. Often there are rules limiting the maximum dollar value of gifts, and prohibiting certain items (such as food) for teacher safety.
Now on to the fun part! Teacher Appreciation Week is a wonderful opportunity to exercise your creativity to make a small token of your appreciation. It needn’t cost a lot of money. In fact, most teachers prefer that you don’t spend a lot of money on a gift (and laws concerning government employees may prohibit them from accepting a valuable gift anyway).
1. Pencil Bouquet
Teachers always need new classroom supplies– but as much as it’s practical, how fun is it to give a box of #2 pencils from Walmart? Fortunately the creative folks at The Happy Scraps have shown us a better way. This delightful Pencil Bouquet is as lovely as it is useful. Instructions here. Supplies here and here.
2. Soda-lighted You’re My Teacher!
Photographer Tammy Mitchell has already done the hard work for you with this cute gift idea. Just go to her site to download the free printable card, attach it to some vintage soda pop, and you’re done!
3. One Smart Cookie Jar
I’ve yet to meet a teacher who doesn’t love fresh baked cookies! Just be aware of any special dietary restrictions such as gluten free or vegan, and check with your district to make sure giving food is acceptable. Then, go to Camie’s site to get the printable “I’m one smart cookie thanks to you!” card and instructions, and of course the perfect cookie jar! Or try this cookie jar set if you have multiple gifts to make.
4. School Supply Cake
A clever variation on the classic Diaper Cake gift for new parents, the School Supply Cake is easy to make and eminently practical. Teachers spend about $500 of their own money on school supplies every year, so what might seem mundane to you is likely to be super appreciated by them! Check out our list of the school supplies most requested by teachers, or put together your own collection on Amazon or CreateForLess.
5. “I Remember My Teacher” Book
What could be more appropriate for Teacher Appreciation Week than David Shribman’s opus to the far-reaching impact that great teachers have throughout our society? As it turns out, pretty much everyone can remember a great, particularly influential teacher they had. Don’t you wish you had let them know just how much they meant to you?
6. Teacher Appreciation Gift Basket
Of course, in an ideal world, we would all make our own gift basket using a cute basket, vase, or even a toy school bus, and stuffing it with a combination of school supplies, snacks, and other teacher essentials like hand sanitizer, craft supplies, or coffee. No time to make your own? Here’s a lovely teacher appreciation gift basket that even Martha Steward would be proud to give.
7. Personalized Gift Card
We saved the easiest gift for last. In our survey of most desired teacher gifts, gift cards came out the undisputed king. No wonder, given the salary most teachers make and the hundreds of dollars they spend out of their own pocket to keep their classrooms well stocked, sometimes even buying basic school supplies for kids who show up without. However, just because you’re giving a gift card doesn’t mean it has to be boring. This site will allow you to personalize a gift card with your own photo and message of appreciation, or choose from hundreds of crafty “Thank you” designs submitted by others.
Is it OK to give teachers a gift at the end of the year? The answer is that it depends entirely upon the circumstances and your relationship with the teacher. In younger grades (elementary school and below), it’s quite common for students to bring their teachers a little token of teacher appreciation at the end of the year. These gifts are usually smaller than teacher Christmas gifts. Some appropriate gifts for teachers might be a craft made by your child, a picture book of some of the best memories from the year, or a drawing which represents one of the most important lessons the child learned. These are great examples of homemade gifts for teachers that don’t have to cost a lot of money, but can still carry a lot of meaning due the inherent message: “teacher, I appreciated the work you did this school year!”
If you’re looking for more specific suggestions for gifts to bring a teacher at the end of the year, I recommend reading my post on the best teacher gift ideas, as well as the post on Christmas gifts, since most of those suggestions are perfectly applicable to graduation gifts. In general the only situations where you might want to spend a little more on an end of the year gift for a teacher is:
I hope that’s helpful! Remember, there’s no need to go overboard, but teacher’s deserve a little appreciation too!