Teacher Appreciation Gifts… what to give and what to avoid

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

**NOTE – this list still has some great ideas, we also have an updated list specifically for 2020 – 12+ Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Gifts This Year {including Virtual options}**

The week of May 6-10, 2019 is Teacher Appreciation Week for Polk County Public Schools and we’ve got a list of ideas to help show teachers some LOVE! (Note – some private and charter schools may celebrate different weeks)

While teachers deserve appreciation all year long, this is the time of year that we make an effort to give them a small token of appreciation for spending an entire year with our kiddos. For teaching them reading, writing, math, science, and hopefully plenty of life-skills that will stick with them for years to come. For taking care of their needs for 6-7 hours a day. For thinking outside the box and trying to make learning fun. Something that says a huge THANK YOU, even though thank you often feels like it isn’t really enough.

I’ve honestly never quite known whether Teacher Appreciation or End of the Year is the appropriate time to give a thank you note or gift, so between the two options you still have a few weeks of school left to show your appreciation!

We asked our Facebook readers for feedback and then compiled those ideas here. Head on over to our Facebook post if you’d like to read them all.

Gifts Teachers Love:

A handwritten note– almost any teacher will tell you a note from you (and/or your child) is a wonderful gift. A note of thanks and encouragement can truly be priceless, especially during these last few weeks.

From a teacher – “I keep thank yous, pictures kids make or silly/sweet notes I receive in a folder. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged or questioning my abilities I read through them. It’s a simple thing that makes a world of difference.”

A gift picked out by your child because it is “perfect” for the teacher – keep in mind your kids spend 5 days a week with their teacher(s) and probably know what they might like better than you do!

Bring them lunch or morning coffee – Give your child’s teacher a few restaurant choices and bring lunch to school. No need to stay and eat with them, just drop it off as a thank you.

One teacher mentioned her room mom coordinated for someone to drop off lunch each day for the entire week!

Volunteer – offer to come to school and help prep supplies, make copies, anything they would otherwise spend their precious PE or break time doing.

An experience gift – think “more fun, less stuff” –  a gift card for the movies, bowling, dinner, ice cream, massage, pedicure/manicure. Groupon is also a great place to find something unique AND a get discount in their “Things To Do” category.

Gift cards to their favorite store – most of us like gift cards, why should teachers be any different?

Be intentional about gift cards and remember not everyone loves coffee or Starbucks!

Get creative – one mom said she includes a fun note that goes along with the store – “I gave a Bed, Bath and Beyond card with a card saying “thanks for going above and beyond!” Or, a gift card for a manicure saying “as far as great teachers go, you NAILED it” or “HANDS DOWN best teacher around!”

Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card – Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where educators share, sell, and buy original teaching resources. Gift cards can be used to purchase instructional resources for all aspects of PreK-12 education. Denominations start as low as $5 Click here to purchase a gift card!

From teacher:  “You can get gift certificates to a website called Teachers Pay Teachers, which has tons of teaching resources….basically a candy store for teachers! I am a teacher, and gave those to my kids teachers, as well as the other teachers on my team for Christmas. Everyone loved them!” (Be sure to find out if this is something your teacher uses before you purchase.)

A bouquet of flowers or balloons – this can be done inexpensively, the Dollar Tree sells $1 mylar balloons and vases, and you can pick up a beautiful bouquet of flowers at Publix for less than $20. (Whatever you do, don’t send your child to school in the morning with a flower bouquet and no vase – remember that teachers likely don’t have a container in the classroom to keep the flowers in water all day.)

Fun Office Supplies – teachers mentioned fun pens, colorful expo markers, etc.

Books, games, or activities for the classroom – donate your age appropriate books, or ask them what they might need.

A note to the Principal or Administration praising your teacher – be specific on what makes them a great teacher.

Artwork created by your child – from a simple drawing to a more elaborate craft, anything they put their heart into is appreciated!

An activity personalized by your child – much like little ones do for Mother’s Day, have them fill out a questionnaire about their teacher! We’ll make it super easy for you – click here to download our free Printables for Female Teachers and Male Teachers (pictures below). Feel free to share these with fellow parents in your class so the teacher has a whole stack to read.

Click to print for Female Teachers

Click to print for Male Teachers

Fun Teacher Gifts on Amazon:

We went looking and found some fun teacher appreciation items on Amazon! These are affiliate links, which means if you purchase something we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Lakeland Mom!

Things Teachers Don’t Need:

Now… a few things to leave off your teacher appreciation list, based on feedback we received and my conversations with friends who teach. First and foremost, DO realize that ANY gift is appreciated, especially those that come from the heart or are given from those who have little to give. However, to keep you from spending your money and time on things that might not be a big hit….

  • Scented items – Refrain from buying things with scents (perfume, lotion, bath products, candles) unless you are certain it is a scent they like.
  • No Apples –  Trust me when I tell you that 98% of teachers don’t need anything more in the apple motif.
  • Homemade treats – while the time and love that goes into homemade treats is definitely heartfelt, unless a teacher knows you have a clean kitchen (like my friend with a commercial cake making kitchen), you might want to buy your sweets & treats from a store. A teacher who isn’t certain of how something was prepared may not be comfortable eating it.
  • Home Decor – Unless you’re certain of their personal style, things to decorate their home may or may not ever be used, and their house is likely already decorated.
  • Knick knacks – Think twice before buying anything that adds to clutter – unless it is something they specifically collect, remember that classrooms are often lacking in storage and display space, and they probably aren’t looking to add to their home decor either. This includes:
    • Coffee Mugs
    • Tote Bags
    • Stuffed Animals
    • Ceramic Figurines

IMPORTANT CAVEAT…. If your child picks it out, then revert to #2 in the first list – anything goes!

We hope you find this list of do’s and don’t useful for making the most out of your time, effort and money when it comes to teacher appreciation. Keep in mind that the most important part of giving any gift is the thought and appreciation behind it!!