Over the years, teachers collect dozens of boxes of chocolates and coffee mugs, so avoid those and instead opt for affordable gifts that your teacher is sure to appreciate. Here are some gift ideas for teachers, educational aides and volunteers, do not cost a lot of money and say “thank you” in a unique way:
1. Specialty tea
Choose black, green or herbal teas that are organic and high quality. Visit a local speciality tea shop and choose one that your teacher will love. Avoid the temptation to present it in a mug though. Many teachers already have a hearty collection of mugs, comprised of previous gifts from students.
2. High quality coffee
If you know for sure that the teacher drinks coffee, then the gift of java will surely be appreciated. Opt for high quality ground coffee unless you know for sure that the teacher uses a coffee grinder. Look for organic, fair trade or direct trade coffee from a local distributor.
3. Hand-made soap or lotion
Body products are another typical holiday gift for teachers, but many of the commercial products contain unhealthy ingredients. Opt for naturally-made, locally produced products that are scent-free or only lightly scented. This increases the chances that teacher will actually use the bath product.
4. A bottle of wine
Only give this gift if you know for sure that the teacher drinks alcohol. If she or he does, then a high quality bottle of wine can go a long way to help a stressed teacher relax once the term is over.
5. A gift card for classroom supplies
Did you know that many teachers buy their own classroom supplies? Some teachers love strolling the aisles of office supply stores, looking at markers, paper, pens, pencils and other classroom supplies. A gift card to an office supply store is a wonderful way to help teachers help kids.
6. A box of elegant, high quality blank cards
An exquisite box of blank cards is a great idea because it means that when the teacher is too busy during the term to go out and buy a special occasion card, they have one handy. Choose high quality paper with a design that can be used for a multitude of purposes.
7. A gift certificate for housecleaning services
This is another great idea from a group of parents. Many teachers find themselves so busy during the term that their house keeping chores just do not get done. If it comes to preparing a lesson plan or cleaning their toilet, teachers will opt to focus on their students. A gift certificate for maid services for a day can provide welcome relief. Choose a well-known service with an excellent reputation.
8. Gift certificates to a locally owned restaurant
Pool resources with a few other parents and buy a gift certificate to a local fancy restaurant. A group gift that allows a teacher to take their special someone out for a complete dinner with wine will be appreciated and remembered for a long time to come.
9. Gift certificates to the movies, live theatre or a concert
This kind of gift sends the message, “You deserve to relax.” A gift certificate or card for entertainment allows the teacher to take a break and forget all the day-to-day stresses of their job.
10. A gift made by you and your child
A gift handmade by your child, together with you, is a surefire way to touch a teacher’s heart. A handmade card, bookmark or other small token is enough to say, “We appreciate you!”
Avoid sugary or sweet gifts such as chocolate, cookies or other sweets. The school staff room is probably full of high calorie treats and many teachers end up laden with boxes of chocolates that they do not particularly want or need.
Instead, show your appreciation to teachers with small, thoughtful gifts that are unique and sure to be appreciated. Choose gifts that do double-duty of helping to support ethical business and local entrepreneurs and you’ll be giving a gift in more ways than one. You are guaranteed a great big smile on the teacher’s face when you do.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.