6 ideas for thoughtful teacher presents



School is almost out, but there’s still time to earn an “A” in one elective: gift giving. When thinking about what to give that special teacher in your child’s life, think useful and thoughtful. Although it’s easy to run out a scented lotion or a mug filled with candy, try to focus on personal gifts that won’t clutter a classroom or torture the waistline. With that in mind, here are six do’s and don’ts for classroom gift giving:


A+ gift ideas:

  • Books for the classroom
  • Handwritten notes or (useful) handmade gifts
  • Gift cards or certificates
  • Classroom supplies
  • Group gifts (a room parent could collect donations)


1. Don’t go crazy on Pinterest

How cute is that printable you found on Pinterest that says “Thanks a latte!” But what if your student’s teacher doesn’t drink coffee? As adorable as that “Thanks for all you Dew” card wrapped around a soda bottle is, it’s only a great idea if the teacher is a known Mountain Dew drinker. Then by all means, go ahead. Whatever cute thing you are cooking up, ask yourself if the gift is really useable or practical, or merely clever and easy.

2. Do write a heartfelt note

Perhaps the most important end-of-the-year goodie you can give your child’s teacher is a handwritten note expressing your appreciation. List the improvements you’ve seen in your child’s understanding or the specific things you’ve noticed that he or she has learned during the school year. And ask your child to write a note or draw a picture as well. If you’ve got pictures from the school year, you could even compile them into an inexpensive photobook on a site like Chatbooks.

3. Don’t overdo it with sugar

Teachers surely burn a lot of calories corralling kids all day, but even teachers with rockstar metabolisms are no match for the onslaught of end-of-the-year treats. Be sensitive to food allergies, and think twice about delivering homemade baked goods to your child’s teacher.


Needs improvement:

  • Candy or sugary baked goods
  • Scented lotion and candles
  • Mugs
  • Stuffed animals
  • Kitschy trinkets


4. Do get personal

When I was an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University expecting my first child, a student gave me a pair of baby shoes with a quote taken from one of my lectures. The student had a solid “A,” so I didn’t feel like she was trying to butter me up. But I’ll always remember how thoughtful her gift was. A few weeks before school gets out, you can email your child’s teacher and ask if he or she needs anything specific for the coming year (think supplies and books to build a library). And if you don’t know the teacher that well, you can ask a room parent for personal suggestions.

5. Don’t forget the staff

If you’ve got a wonderful teacher’s assistant, school secretary or cafeteria worker, make sure to acknowledge that person’s contribution to your child’s education. And make sure to thank the principal at the end of the year. A handwritten note or even an email from your child would be a nice gesture.

6. Do give gift cards

Gift cards are a great way to help a teacher replenish needed items for a classroom. Cards to places like Wal-Mart, Target or an office supply store are always useful, or you could give credit to a bookstore like Barnes & Noble. Also, a gift card to a restaurant makes a nice end-of-the-year gift for a person who surely — surely — could use a nice meal to unwind.


Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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