Few people have as big an impact on kids as their teachers. As the end of the school year approaches, our thoughts turn to thank you notes and teachers’ gifts. While giving gifts at the end of the school year definitely isn’t necessary (and, as several teachers have told us, ever expected), we know that sometimes you just want to do something special for a teacher or administrator who went out of their way to make sure your kiddo had a successful and happy school year.
But what to get? We turned to a few teachers we know and love to get the scoop on the gifts they really want—and a few themes emerged. Here’s what they said.
Teachers have a big obsession with labelling and personalizing their belongings. ‘Our stuff is left all over,’ says Beth, a primary teacher from Kingston, Ontario. ‘It gets left in classrooms and staff rooms, and with different people coming in and out, stuff gets mixed up.’ Common items like water bottles, lunch bags, and pens are lost with high frequency—and several teachers we spoke to put personalized items at the top of their wish lists.
We love these stick-on monogram decals, which mean they can personalize any water bottle. Made from self-adhesive permanent outdoor vinyl, so they’re not peeling off anytime soon.
There are lots of times teachers need to write short notes to people, so multi-purpose cards make for a very practical gift—and personalized stationary is a treat most people don’t buy for themselves. Having your own stationary? Classy move, teach.
We love Pretty in Ink for their customizable, self-inking stamps. You can choose the style, pattern, and go for an initial or full name—creating a totally unique stamp design. The stamp is refillable, so they’ll have it for years. Perfect for stamping anything from cards to stationery, notebook covers and letters home.
We haven’t met a teacher yet who didn’t have a soft spot in their heart for school supplies—beautiful paper products included. We love these funky and fun notebooks which can be customized with their name in an elegant script.
Of course, don’t forget Mabel’s Labels—we’ve been big fans for years. Dishwasher and microwave safe, these waterproof labels don’t come off! Give your favourite teacher a sheet of personalized sticker labels (they come in a range of sizes and designs) so they can make sure all their gear makes it home at the end of every day.
Get Them Set for Summer with a Little Pampering
Here’s a little secret: teachers look forward to summer break almost as much as the kids. Get them set for the season with a sunshine-themed gift ‘basket’: sunblock, a beach towel and a floppy hat or baseball cap, all tucked into a cute and endlessly practical beach bag (we like Cocolelly). Now they’re set for some serious poolside relaxing.
Treat them to something they might never normally treat themselves to: a spa trip. Go in with the other parents and arrange a spa trip as a group gift—or go solo with a mani, pedi, or facial treatment. Now that summer’s on its way, they’ll have time for some much needed R&R.
Food and Drink
A Timmies gift card may feel like the simplest gift you can give—but multiple sources assured us it’s one of the most coveted gifts around. Jana, an elementary teacher from Scarborough, Ontario, recommends finding out what coffee shop is closest to the school and selecting a gift card from there. The recipient is sure to appreciate that extra layer of thoughtfulness. Kate, a teacher from Toronto, Ontario points out that even $5 means they can have a drink and a snack on you.
Speaking of caffeine, gourmet beans and specialty teas are always appreciated. Get your kiddo to tell you (or find out) whether your teacher is a tea or coffee drinker, because you can’t go wrong with these winning items.
Let’s face it, kids aren’t always angels. A couple of teachers told us that a bottle of wine would be quite welcome indeed. We recently tried and fell in love with this crowd-pleasing, easy-drinking red.
Help Outfit Their Classrooms
It’s a sad fact that teachers often spend a lot of their own money outfitting classrooms. Show them you know, and appreciate this, with a gift card to Staples, the Dollar Store, or Indigo. They might even use it to treat themselves!
Have your kid select their favourite book(s) and give them to the teacher to be added to the classroom collection—so that kids in years to come might enjoy them, too.
A potted plant that sits prettily on a desktop adds some life and colour to the classroom—and can be taken home for the summer to be enjoyed. Terrariums full of succulents are a trendy choice and have the added bonus of being hard to kill.
At the end of the day, a teacher, principal, or school staff member just wants to know they’re working as hard as they are for a reason. ‘Year-long relationships with your children are very meaningful for us, so a few words of thanks really do mean the world.’ says Kate, an elementary teacher from Toronto, Ontario. In fact, every teacher we asked said that a handwritten card, thank you note, letter, poem, or even drawing was the best gift they could imagine receiving.
‘I have a box of letters written by parents about their child’s experiences in Kindergarten. Sometimes when I feel upset about something that may have happened, I open it up and read all the kind words parents had to say. We (teachers) really do appreciate those.’ – Lisa, Kindergarten teacher
‘Truly the best gifts I have received have been heartfelt thank-you notes from parents (I teach primary, but older kids could write notes themselves) which actually name specific things I’ve done that they have appreciated (extra help for a struggling student, a certain project or activity we worked on, planning a trip, coaching a team, providing structure, etc.) I have a special file of those sorts of notes and I will always treasure them—they are definitely the best gifts I have received, or could receive.’ – Kate, primary teacher.
To help you out, we put together a few writing prompts to guide your kiddo through the process of writing a thoughtful note.