Family Life

Teacher Appreciation Week: To Buy or Not to Buy

Teacher Appreciation Week can be a doozy for both teachers and students alike. It’s difficult to pick out a meaningful gift for someone who does so much for our children. Fret not, students and parents, because this guide will help you through it. High school teacher, Joy Holden, offers tips and advice to find the perfect gift.


What to Buy

I promise that finding the perfect gift to show your appreciation is not as difficult as it seems. Luckily, this is not “go big or go home” territory as many teachers just appreciate being appreciated.

“I always advise parents to ask early in the year what are some favorites that teachers have so that you can personalize a gift for them. Honestly, we want some positive recognition that we are appreciated, and that can be very small,” says Holden. “Gift cards to favorite places to eat/get coffee/bookstores/Target, greeting cards with a personal message, favorite treats (can be favorite candy or chips or snacks), cute mugs, sturdy water bottles, teacher stickers to go on water bottles/computers, and tote bags are always appreciated.”

As suggested, gift cards go a long way, but make sure they are “universal” like a prepaid Visa card or for a store where teachers can buy supplies or something cute for themselves. A favorite shop, restaurant, or even an online shopping hub like Amazon are all great gift card choices. In a similar vein, if your teacher is a parent, find out how old their kids are and shop for a gift certificate to a fun experience like a trampoline park.

Check your beginning-of-the-year supply list and pick a few items to buy from it. Teachers are often stuck purchasing replacement supplies for their students after they “disappear,” are used up, or unfortunately are broken. Lend a helping hand by replenishing the stockpile and maybe picking out something fun, too, like funky scented stickers or “good job” stamps.

If you’re going the cup, mug, or wine glass route, exercise some caution. Not everything is dishwasher-safe or microwave-safe or even BPA-free. Before making your drinkware purchase, make your teacher’s quality of life better by checking the washing and heating instructions before you purchase.


What Not to Buy

Don’t base your gifts around how the classroom is themed and decorated. If the classroom is decked out in all things farm animal related, that doesn’t mean you should follow suit with a cow-shaped mug. Sometimes, the simpler or more neutral the gift, the better.

Put the candles and lotions down. What smells good to you may not smell that wonderful to your giftee, which is an unfortunate disappointment for both of you.

“Stay away from candles and lotions unless you know that it is a specific brand or scent that the teacher prefers,” warns Holden. “I have thrown away and/or regifted several candles and lotions and soaps that I couldn’t stand the smell of. Scents are so subjective, so if you like giving them as gifts in candles, lotions, or soaps, ask the teachers beforehand which ones they like.”

Think twice before you gift a large container of candy. Even if you’re 100 percent sure it’s their favorite, you most likely aren’t the only person who is sending it. If your teacher ends up with over five pounds of candy on their desk, there is no way it’s all getting eaten in time.


Don’t be Afraid to Ask What Your Teacher May Want

It’s tough to give out gifts, even tougher when you don’t have a close relationship with a person. It’s good to ask what someone would like before you go gift shopping, but don’t trust everything that comes out of your child’s mouth when they make suggestions.

Holden recommends creating a Google form or a template email that asks the teacher about their favorite restaurants, scents, brands, sports teams, snacks, desserts, and colors. She notes that this is great to have on hand since you can reference the response for buying presents beyond Teacher Appreciation Week, like for holidays or birthdays. That’s a convenient, win-win situation for everyone.


A Gift From the Heart

Sometimes, spending money isn’t an option, and that’s okay. One great way to show your teacher that you appreciate all that they do is to write a thank-you note. You can even write two–one from you as the parents and another from your child. This is especially good to do for older students who likely have multiple teachers.

Included in this, be aware that there is some disparity between grades. “You have to keep in mind that Teacher Appreciation Week means different things for elementary, middle, and high school teachers,” advises Holden. “Elementary teachers usually rack up. I was a fourth grade teacher for one year, and I had to literally drive my car around to put all of my gifts in the trunk. It’s such a blessing! Middle school teachers, it starts to taper off a little, and by high school, we don’t really get much.”

All in all, Teacher Appreciation Week is a time for your student to show how thankful they are to receive an education and for all the sacrifices that educators have had to make for the school year to run successfully while still being fun and exciting. Besides, who doesn’t love getting warm fuzzies from giving a well-meaning gift?

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