It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! Because May isn’t crazy enough, someone somewhere decided to tack on another check in your “It’s May and we need to schedule ALL OF THE THINGS before school ends” checklist. But since I hold teachers somewhere in between Jesus Christ and Oprah Winfrey on my list of people I admire, I don’t want to mess this one up, and I’m sure you don’t either. That’s why I’m breaking it down for you on the blog. The goods, the bads, and the just plain “Ewwww” of Teacher Appreciation Gifts.
Here’s the thing: teachers don’t want to tell you. They are angels sent to earth. The real thing and not Katy Perry at tonight’s Met Gala:
They are truly grateful for whatever expressions of appreciation they get from students and their parents. But since it takes as much effort to buy a questionable gift as it does one that will actually be used, I polled some of my favorite teachers on social media and these were the Top 3, Bottom 3, and OMG 3.
Top 3 teacher appreciation gifts:
3. Classroom supplies. We know that teachers pay an absurd amount of their too-small-for-the-job paychecks on stuff our kids need to learn. Send an email to your kid’s teacher and ask what would make her life easier in the classroom, or what she constantly purchases for her classroom with her own money. Making a Costco-sized delivery of Kleenexes might not look as cute as those gift bags you see on Pinterest, but there’s a teacher who will be more than happy to let you pick up the tab for stuff she’d usually purchase.
2. Gift Cards—with a few caveats. This was the second-most mentioned gift request on my very informal poll. But there’s a few exceptions. Gift cards to Starbucks got a resounding NO. When it comes to gift cards, Amazon was definitely the top choice. Pedicures to local places came in a close second, as well as food places that the teacher likes. The important part about giving a gift card? ASK the teacher for a few options before purchasing one.
1. A heartfelt note—from your child AND from you. This came up over and over. And because the people I polled are my friends, there is no reason for them to lie on behalf of sounding nice. Teachers want to be noticed. They want to feel like the sweat (and sometimes blood and tears) they endure on behalf of bettering your kiddo is recognized. So, go ahead and have your kid fingerpaint some masterpiece on a paper plate. And then write a note on the back that thanks that teacher for cleaning up the petite Picasso when he vomited all over himself and his desk after a strenuous combo of lunch + recess. Maybe that encounter was just my kid, but you get the idea.
The “please don’t even” gifts for teachers:
3. Lotions, perfume and Bath and Body Works products. No, just no. If it’s something your kid’s teacher might use while in the buff, it’s not a great idea for a gift (more on that later). Plus, you’ve got possible allergies and dermatitis to contend with. Nope.
2. Anything with apples on it. Stereotypes suck. Always. Even if it’s stationery with her name on it or a tote bag you know will be perfect or the world’s cutest paperweight. Just don’t.
1. Mugs. Almost every single teacher mentioned this one. I don’t care if it’s personalized or bedazzled or sings the star-spangled banner or makes it’s own coffee—your kid’s teacher doesn’t want it. Don’t make the teacher go into the fake-smile for this one.
The “OMG Teacher Gift Hall of Fame:”
- Head lice. ‘Nuff said on that one.
- Stuffed animals. Creepy.
- Alcoholic beverages. Not even slightly awkward when a teacher opens it in front of her student. Especially in a “Drug and Alcohol Free” public school zone.
- Something from your home-based business, unless the teacher has asked for it specifically. This is NOT the time to try and score a new customer. Case in point true story from a friend:
“I got a pretty crazy gift once, my first year of teaching. On Valentine’s Day, one boy’s mom came in for our party and gave him a gift bag which he handed to me. Thankfully I was busy with party stuff and didn’t open it right away. Inside the bag was a tube of “Coochy Cream.” When I pulled it out of the bag I did a double-take because the container looked very similar to a Bath and Body lotion tube. But, no–it was definitely shaving lotion specifically for your bikini area from one of those “adult toy” companies that the mom actually sold. It was a more intimate Valentine’s Day gift than even my own husband gave me.”
So, there you go, moms of school-aged kiddos. Send your favorite teachers an email and ask them for their top three gift ideas. Choose one, write a heartfelt note, and recognize that badass teacher for the awesome job he or she does every day. And for Pete’s sake, don’t gift a mug with a Starbucks card inside.
Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week to those brave women and men that choose to invest in the future leaders of America over their own bank accounts. Who see the good in our kids despite their shortcomings. Who clean up bodily fluids, pull loose teeth, supervise standardized testing and still manage to have time at the end of the day to give as many hugs as requested. Those teachers who treat our kids as their own, and more likely than not sometimes miss out on family activities to be with our kids.
We love you. We are SO grateful for you. And we promise not to gift you Coochy Cream this year.