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Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
April 13, 2024

Learn about the best presents to thank teachers for their hard work throughout the year, from thoughtful DIY gifts to indulgent experiences. (Depositphotos)

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Day after day, during school hours and after the bell rings, the schools only work because teachers do. If an educator has ever made a difference in your life, you’ll know that teachers are more than deserving of our appreciation. But how do you choose a meaningful gift that won’t fall flat?

With Teacher Appreciation Week and the end of the school year approaching, now is the perfect time to start thinking about gifts for teachers. Keep reading to learn about the best presents to thank them for the hard work they put in all year long.

“For the record, teacher appreciation gifts are never expected but certainly appreciated,” explains Cindy Rainey, a teacher who also shares her favorite vegan recipes over at Veggie Fun Kitchen. “Over the years, the gifts I’ve found most meaningful and still remember are gifts from the heart.”

Classic gifts like mugs, flowers and cheap chocolate may be low-effort – but they’ve also become a little cliché. Before grabbing the first item you see, take a moment to think about what your child’s teacher might actually use.

More is Less

Don’t forget that other parents will be on the hunt for gifts, too. That travel thermos or mug may look cute in the store, but who needs three dozen of them? Sure, your child’s teacher can always re-gift something they don’t like, but with a bit of thinking ahead, you can find a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week that they’ll actually enjoy.

Small Yet Impactful

When choosing a gift, try to think about the teacher’s personality. Do they have little ones at home? A children’s book to read together over the summer could be a good pick. Do you live in a region with dry winters? Some affordable-yet-luxurious hand cream may be just what they need. Earn bonus points by adding a note from your child explaining why you picked out the gift just for them.

Recognize a Teacher’s Hard Work

Today, with students still struggling to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, teachers are working harder than ever. Here’s how to recognize their efforts.

Write a Letter

A box of chocolates gets eaten once and discarded, but heartfelt recognition from parents and students will stay with teachers for a long time. Consider writing a thank-you letter from your perspective as a parent that discusses what you appreciate the most. Your child’s teacher can keep the letter by them on difficult days to remind them of how their work has positively impacted others.

You can also invite your child to contribute, too. If they’re too young or too shy to write their own message, prompt them with questions like “What’s your favorite thing about your teacher’s class?” and “What does your teacher do that makes you happy?” and write down their responses.

Collect Video Thank-Yous

Another creative way to show a teacher you care is by collecting video messages from current or even past students. Whether it’s a detailed message or just a simple “thank you,” seeing their past students’ faces is sure to demonstrate how much their efforts are appreciated.

Indulgent Moments

Teachers’ salaries can make it hard to splurge on luxurious experiences like visiting the spa, getting a regular manicure or going for a massage. A voucher for one of these experiences is a gift that your child’s teacher might love, but wouldn’t necessarily be able to justify purchasing on their own.

Treatments can be expensive, so consider whether other parents might be interested in chipping in. With a class of 30, if most of the parents contribute just a few dollars, you’ll have close to $100 to spend on your teacher.

Of course, you don’t want to pressure anyone into giving up money they might not have to spare. Make it clear that any gift would come from the class as a whole so that parents won’t feel like they’re being singled out for not contributing.

Parent Collaboration

If a few parents are able to contribute to a larger gift, lots of possibilities open up. For example, an Instant Pot will let your child’s teacher prepare a quick hot dinner of butter chicken or beef stew after being at school all day long. A portable Bluetooth speaker lets teachers try out new activities with their classrooms and can come home with them at the end of the day. A nice set of glass meal prep jars will help them come to work with a good lunch prepared. You can also see whether parents might have access to discounted products through work to keep costs down.

Help Out by Volunteering

Another gift that teachers are guaranteed to appreciate is the gift of your time. Getting parents to volunteer on field trips and community days can be a challenge, so if you help your child’s teacher out with scheduling, they’re sure to be grateful. You can also muster a team of parents to volunteer at school. Just check with the staff first so that your help won’t go to waste.

Gift Cards

If you don’t know your child’s teacher very well, gift cards are a smart choice. They’ll allow the recipient to choose whatever they want while still offering a personal touch.

But do teachers actually like them? “Gift cards are always very sincerely appreciated,” says Cindy. “As teachers, we spend so much of our own money in our classrooms just to make things nice for our students. It’s certainly nice and appreciated when we have a little bit of money to spend on ourselves.”

DIY It

Nothing says, “I put some thought into this,” like a DIY project. It’s also a great way to get your kids involved. Homemade jam or a simple batch of fresh cookies are all budget-friendly options that are sure to be appreciated. Or put together your own spice blend – perfect for sausage curry – for a much lower cost than buying it from a store. Just make sure to ask about dietary preferences first.

There are plenty of non-edible DIY gifts, too. Homemade bookmarks can be made with watercolors, pressed flowers or old magazines. Sugar scrubs and bath bombs are easy to make and require only a few ingredients.

A Gift for Everyone

The best thing about DIY-ing a bunch of presents is that it makes it easy to celebrate all of the educators in your child’s life, and potentially the support staff as well. Specialist teachers, custodial staff, teacher’s aides, and the rest of the school faculty work just as hard but can be overlooked.

Buying every adult who helps educate your child a present can quickly become unaffordable. Thoughtful homemade gifts will go further and be more deeply appreciated.

The Art and Science of Gift-Giving

With everyone feeling a financial squeeze these days, it’s tough to find a gift that is both affordable and meaningful. Don’t feel pressured to break the bank. Handwritten letters, video messages, volunteering and DIY gifts are all thoughtful alternatives that won’t be as expensive as traditional presents.

Heidi Bruaw, a teacher sharing vintage recipes over at Real Life of Lulu, confirms that it’s the heartfelt gifts that teachers will remember for years to come. “The best gifts I have gotten as a teacher have come from the heart. Handwritten, heartfelt notes are much appreciated and don’t go overlooked. A coffee card to my favorite place is nice, but gifts chosen or made by my students themselves are the ones I cherish most.”

Sara Nelson is the food blogger behind Real Balanced, a site that shares easy and balanced recipes. Since 2017, she has shared delicious, nutritious and allergy-friendly recipes with thousands of blog readers and social media followers. Sara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two children and their dog.

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