Because of my experience as a gifts and etiquette expert, 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.
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
NURSERY OR 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?
One of the ways to make this affordable is to find a salon or spa you trust, and find out if there are any apprentices on staff to offer manicures. Apprentices who are just learning the trade often charge much less than full-time staff. You should be able to get away with a $20 gift card that easily covers a manicure and tip.
Don’t have a favorite spa? Consider giving a Spafinder gift card, which gives the recipient the freedom to choose where she wants to get pampered.
Another gift option if you’re not a fan of manicures, or don’t think the teacher would be, is to give the teacher a book to read (for herself, not the classroom) or a gift card to a local bookstore.
If money is tight, a plate of homemade cookies–even the slice-and-bake variety–is wonderful. Teachers can share these with their colleagues.
I still love the notion of a gift card to a bookstore–especially if I can support a local business–as a gift for an elementary school teacher.
However, if you’re a working parent and just don’t have time to shop, this is when Amazon.com comes in handy, especially if you’re an Amazon Prime member, with its free two-day shipping. Right now Amazon has its 12 Days of Deals, which could uncover the perfect teacher present!
Speaking of Amazon Prime, if you know your child’s teacher orders supplies from the site, you can always give the gift of Amazon Prime. This might be a great gift for the whole class to go in on–suggest this to the class parent who may be organizing one big teacher gift from the class.
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.
Again, homemade goodies are also always welcome–especially in the break room.
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.
MIDDLE SCHOOL & 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 know that restaurants like Olive Garden, Red Lobster and others all have these deals going on.
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.
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.