I asked four of my Teacher friends what they would love to receive from students and their families. Their anonymous responses are below. Skip to the bottom for a summary of their responses, money-saving coupons, offers and ideas for inexpensive Teacher gifts this holiday season!
Question 1: What grade levels & subjects have you taught?
1) I taught middle school social studies for 14 years. Mostly 7th grade World Cultures and Geography, with a few years of 8th grade US History to 1877.
2) Grade 2, all subjects.
3) Fourth grade, all subjects
4) Grade 1-3, Special Ed.
Question 2: What is the best gift you’ve received from a student and/or their family?
1) Anything that showed that the student/family knew me well. Things like Redskins stuff, Coke (since I drink that ALL THE TIME!), handwritten notes/cards from the student and/or family.
2) The best gift I ever received was a pink North Face jacket.
3) Probably gift cards or a picture frame.
4) We don’t get a lot of gifts from students usually, so any form of cash has been nice.
Question 3: What can parents do to make Teachers feel more appreciated?
1) Little things…notes/emails thanking you for something, noting how your child enjoyed a particular lesson/activity/project, emails to principal or supervisor with praise (we hear too much about the negative ones), helping out in the classroom (volunteer to be a guest speaker about a topic that might be taught in the curriculum if you are particularly knowledgeable, etc.), chaperone a field trip, bring cookies/cupcakes, etc. just because.
2) Parents can honestly just support teachers by understanding that we are there to help their children learn and grow and remember that they are not classroom teachers but instead there as a support.
3) A card with a personal message would be great! I never expected gifts, as I’m sure many don’t. But to hear/read that you are appreciated means a lot!
4) Notes of appreciation are nice if you can’t afford to buy gifts. Or just coming into the classroom and thanking us personally for everything we do.
Question 4: Do you like receiving gift cards? If so, from where?
1) YES!!!!!!! Target, a bookstore, a teacher supply store, (not a fan of Starbucks, cuz I don’t drink coffee), or to a store that the student/family knows I shop at…
2) I LOVE gift cards!!! Best ones are Visa gift cards, Nordstrom, and Target!!
3) I enjoyed gift cards. Target is always great. I can get stuff for my classroom or myself. Book stores too!
4) Yes! Target gift cards or just Visa gift cards.
Question 5: What’s the best handmade gift you’ve received from a student and why was it special to you?
1) It’s not a big thing in middle schools as compared to elementary school. I’d have to say I still have many of the handmade cards and handwritten notes that my students have given me. When the student has taken the time to make the card and write a note (more than “Thanks” or “Happy Holidays” or something like that), it is really special. I like to go back and read through them and remember the student, think about what he/she might be up to now, etc.
2) Honestly, it sounds horrible but I really don’t like handmade gifts. There is only one I remember and it was a poem actually written by a parent on a student in my 1st class ever…she wrote a poem about my current husband and I being teachers at the same school and getting engaged. It was cute and honestly, in my 8 years, the only handmade gift I remember.
3) I received a decorated cup from a student with my new name (I was newly engaged and getting married that summer). It was just such a thoughtful gift and I still think of him when I see it (6+ years later!)
4) I don’t think we’ve ever gotten handmade gifts except for a $20 bill that was folded like origami. It was nice that the family spent the time to do that for us.
So what do Teachers want for Christmas? The resounding answer is gift cards – Target & Visa gift cards in particular. Unfortunately if you have several teachers you’re shopping for this can get expensive pretty quickly. There are now websites where you can buy pre-owned gift cards at a discount. I’ve never tried any of these services but if you’re interested I found a great primer about buying discounted gift cards on the Kiplinger website. If you’re weary of buying used cards online, another great option is to check your local warehouse stores (BJs, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc) for gift card multi-packs.
Target is always bundling gift cards with everyday in-store and online purchases plus with Black Friday right around the corner you can count on there being plenty of gift cards deals in their ads.
If you’d rather not give a gift card it seems personalized gifts are the way to go. Shutterfly has an amazing array of inexpensive photo and personalized gifts that would be great for teachers; including tote bags, magnets, picture frames, desktop plaques, ornaments & ornament cards, stationery, and even photo charms for charm bracelets, necklaces & bangles.
What are your favorite holiday gifts to give Teachers? I’d love to hear any other Teacher gift ideas you’d like to add to this list.
Photo credit: Jennifer Huls / 123RF Stock Photography