Teacher Gift Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week

Forget trite gift baskets and cookie tins. Break the mold with these heartfelt gift ideas for that special teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week.

It’s natural to want to find nice gifts for teachers. After all, they spend six-plus hours a day, five days a week with your child. But this year, instead of shopping for a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week, why not encourage the kids to make or do something special? After all, teachers say heartfelt gifts are their favorites (honest!).

Pay it forward

“(Teachers) never expect to receive gifts. We really don’t,” says Ann Debien, a now-retired kindergarten teacher of nearly 30 years. “When I was a young teacher and kids would bring me gifts, I was always so thankful and appreciative.”

But it wasn’t always something she needed. Holiday gifts could add up to a lot of popcorn tins, mugs and other trinkets. So Debien began to brainstorm ways her students could pool efforts to give a gift to serve others.

For the last few years of her teaching career, around the first week of December, Debien sent out a letter to her students’ parents, letting them know that in lieu of gifts, she would ask parents and students – if they’re interested – to donate to a cause.

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In the past, she had her students collect food items to provide dinner for families that would otherwise go without a holiday meal; she signed up to give gifts to families in need through the Salvation Army.

She suggested her students donate to Maybury Farm in Northville. Kids gave money to “adopt” animals there; through their collected funds, Debien was able to sign up to provide food and care for a bunny, a sheep and a goat.

“I let the students vote on which animals we should adopt,” says Debien. Later in the school year, students took a field trip to the farm to visit “their” animals.

Get creative

While Debien appreciates her students’ desire to get her something special, she says the best holiday gift is something that the student has created. That’s right. No expensive gift basket, no pricey gift certificate; just a card made with crayon and paper.

“I don’t think any teacher can really express how much they love receiving those cards,” says Debien. “Getting something students created on their own, that shows how much they’ve learned. I can’t stress enough how much teachers like seeing something they’ve drawn and written. It’s a compliment.”

When students bring in a card, Debien tries to make a big deal out it, thanking the child and hanging it up near her desk for the whole class to see. The cards, which usually say something like, “I love you,” “You’re my favorite teacher,” or “You’re the best,” stay up even after the holidays.

Of course, if you insist on giving the teacher a gift, you can always take your child to a discount store and let them pick out something inexpensive. If that doesn’t feel like enough, consider getting the item personalized.

This post is updated regularly. 

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