Terrific Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Day!

(And Some You Should Avoid!)

By Christen Reiner, Macaroni Kid Lakewood-LIttleton May 1, 2017

Most of us parents have at least one teacher in our lives ... and most of us would agree that they have a super tough job! After all, they often spend more time with our children than we do on school days! Now is the time to OFFICIALLY show them how much we appreciate all of their hard work!

Teacher Appreciation Day is technically the first Tuesday of the first FULL week in May, making it May 9th this year. Many schools choose to celebrate during the first week in May, so be sure you find out when your school is doing it!

As a former teacher myself (and my hubs is still in the classroom after almost 20 years!), I think I have a good handle on some of the best ways to show your appreciation. I'm even going to throw in a few "gifts to avoid"!

Gift Card - Teachers spend a lot of their own money in their classrooms, so buying that treat for themselves might not be something they do often. A small gift card to a coffee shop, bakery, a store you know they love to shop at, or pizza joint (no cooking after a long day!) goes a long way to show your appreciation ... and it's something just for them to enjoy.

Experience - Think "less stuff, more fun"! A gift card for a mani/pedi, bowling, the movies, a restaurant, pottery painting, or a massage is fun for anyone! Groupon and Living Social are great sites to find a fun activity for less!

Classroom Supplies - Think of the items that the class always runs out of ... glue, pencils, hand sanitizer, etc. ... and get creative! Make a pencil bouquet by adding paper flowers to each one, and sticking them in a pot! Attach a note to a bottle of hand sanitizer that says "You're the BEST teacher, HANDS DOWN!" Pinterest can be your friend here ...

Apple - Wait, what?? Apples are SOOOO old school when it comes to teacher gifts. BUT, if you dress it up by wrapping it up with caramel sauce and a bow, you've got a totally cute, creative way to show your teacher that you appreciate them!

Sweet Treat - Who doesn't love a sweet now and then (or everyday)? This option requires a tiny bit of research to find out what your teacher likes, or any dietary restrictions he/she might have, but a quick chat with your teacher's teammate should give you the answers you need! Once again, Pinterest comes in handy for some ideas for cute notes to go with the sweets.

Family Night Basket - Does your teacher have kids? Put together a few items for him/her to enjoy a fun evening with the family ... movie night, game night, craft night or pizza night are easy to assemble!

Class Gift - Since my oldest (who's almost 16 now!) started school, I have organized a class gift for my kids' teachers. I collect contributions (any amount!) from any parents who want to participate, and then purchase a gift card that I know the teacher will love. I've opted for everything from dinner at an expensive restaurant for a date night, to a family day at the movies, to a variety of fast food restaurants for easy family dinners, to a store gift card! Speaking from the "teacher's family" point of view as well, they are ALWAYS appreciated!

Thank You Note - I can't tell you how much it means to a teacher to know that their work is appreciated ... and all it takes is a heartfelt thank you note from a parent and/or a student. Don't hold back because you don't want to get too mushy ... lay it out there! Tell them why you are so thankful -- get specific! I still have notes that I received while teaching that really touched me, and I definitely have written notes to a few of my kids' teachers that I got a little teary writing! :)

Dinner or Lunch - If you know your teacher pretty well, you could bring them lunch during the school day or a dinner for their family. Like all of us moms and dads, there is nothing better than having the night off from cooking once in a while! (If you aren't real close with the teacher, consider a purchased meal ... homemade isn't always comfortable unless you know each other well and are certain about how it's been prepared!)

A Note of Praise to the Principal - EVERYONE loves praise, and if you think your teacher is doing an exceptional job in the classroom, tell the administration about it! Be specific! Tell a story about something that makes them a great teacher!

Plant - I love the "Thanks for helping me grow" or "Thanks for helping me bloom!" themes when it comes to teacher appreciation. Any plant or flowers (or even seeds!) will work and it's super easy ... you could literally buy a plant or bouquet of flowers, and attach a cute note. Voila!

Artwork from your Student - This is especially appreciated if the artwork displays something that is special between the student and teacher, such as a field trip they went on, a fun day they had at school, a picture of the teacher and student, or a drawing of the teacher's pet (the animal version, not the favorite student! LOL!). Older kids might want to whip something up on the computer! This is their chance to show their skills and talents.

Volunteer - There is a ton of prep work involved in teaching, and it can be especially time consuming toward the end of the year! Offer to come to school and help do the things they would normally spend their planning time doing. It will give them a bit of down time in an otherwise busy day!

Before I list the few items that are best to avoid, let me say that ANYTHING that a child gives a teacher is appreciated, especially when it comes from the kiddo's heart. Teachers realize that not everyone has the means to give a gift from the store, and they also realize that the gift may have been picked out by a student. However, there are a few things that are not a huge hit with most teachers...

Knick Knacks - Most likely, there isn't a ton of space to display these items in the classroom. They might eventually end up in a drawer or box, which can be sad for the gift giver. The exception -- if your teacher collects something specific!

Scented Lotion, Soaps and Candles - Unless you are sure they enjoy the scent, these items can be tricky. Many people are very sensitive to different smells, and a gift with an overpowering scent may have to be kept out of the classroom. The exception -- if your teacher is a Bath & Body Works addict, and you know the favorite scent!

Apple Motif - Most teachers are inundated during their first few years of teaching with "apple" gifts, and most only have room for a few. There are quite a few thank you/appreciation themed items out there that might fit your teacher's personality a little better! The exception -- if your teacher has specifically expressed an interest in gathering ALL the apple products out there for their collection! Haha!

The important thing to remember here is this:

The HOW isn't as important as the DO! 

No matter what it is, make sure you DO something to show your appreciation for the amazing teachers in YOUR life!