Best gifts for teachers? Truly the notes of thanks!

This is a note from one my college students from fall semester. It made me cry. I appreciated it so much. (I took the student's name off the note for FERPA. I didn't know if that violated anything so just to be safe)

This is a note from one my college students from fall semester. It made me cry. I appreciated it so much. (I took the student's name off the note for FERPA. I didn't know if that violated anything so just to be safe.) Her note will always be special to me.

The kindergartener made lots of thank you notes for her teacher. One of the envelopes includes stick-on plastic jewels and the other include change. She is truly giving her teacher her treasures.

The kindergartener made lots of thank you notes for her teacher. One of the envelopes includes stick-on plastic jewels and the other includes change. She is truly giving her teacher her treasures.

I was thinking the other day about teacher presents that I have given through the years.

I remembered that when I only had one child in preschool I gave the both preschool teachers certificates for HoneyBaked Hams. They must have thought I was crazy.

My teacher gifts have gotten less extravagant over the years but only because I’ve had to buy for more teachers.

In most recent years, I have given movie passes so the teachers could take their families over the holiday break. I used to do $25 a teacher but now that we’ve added so many middle school teachers, I am down to $10 a teacher.

Sometimes I do books if I know the genre a teacher is interested in. For example one of our teachers liked Julia Child and World War II so I have given books on both topics. I also love to give the $12 The Gourmet Cookie Book, which traces the best cookie recipes featured in the magazine since the 1940s. I love it because it explains what was going on culturally to make the cookie popular. For example, honey was a popular ingredient for cookies during World War II because sugar was rationed.

For years on the blog you guys have said that the hand-written notes of thanks mean the most. I got my first hand-written note this year from a student and it made me cry. It was so sweet and so loving.

I have gotten several email notes of thanks and my students were very loving and thankful in my professor evaluations last year but it is special to get a hand-written note from a student.

So we are trying to include hand-written notes from the kids with the teachers’ holiday presents.

What are you giving this year? What about a hand-written note?

10 comments Add your comment


December 19th, 2012
8:17 am

Nice note TWG and you should cherish it! I love it when I get an email from those who attend my presentations. I received one from an SLP who used the things I have written with an autistic child and had an amazing breakthrough. His Mother was crying. I made me cry too and I was so happy she took the time to sent it. A note is very thoughtful.

I personally did not like cookies, fudge nor home made food. Still do not. Jam/Jelly would be o.k. as I can keep it for a while. I have a cabinet FULL of coffee cups but I like them.

I also loved the ornaments and still have many of them. I have a candle ring ( new candle it in) that was given to me over 25 years ago by a student who eventually went to Harvard on a football scholarship. I am so proud of him.

Gift cards and gift certificates are perfect too. Even a $5 Starbuck’s card could get the teacher a cup of coffee. Holiday napkins and paper plates tied up with a bow around them would be fun! You could get these at $1 store and have everything you need for less than $5: plates, cups, napkins and plastic silverware. I often did this for the end of the school year .


December 19th, 2012
9:07 am

Theresa, that was a nice card from your student. Do your students call you by your first name? When I was in college (just a few years ago) we never called our professors by their first names. I was just wondering if this has changed since I left college.

Also, I have one baby who just finished his first year in daycare. I have so much respect for what those daycare providers do and to me, that is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It takes a special type of person to be a good daycare provider. My family does not celebrate Christmas, but for my son’s two daycare teachers I wanted to let them know I appreciated all the hard work they’ve done this year. I bought them both a card and wrote a hearfelt message in it, and gave them a cash gift. I figured they’d prefer the cash more than a generic gift card (especially since I don’t know exactly what they like). They were both so excited and caught completely off-guard. They enjoyed the gift, but they said they even more enjoyed my words of thanks and appreciation for all they do everyday, and my words gave them renewed energy to continue doing a good job.

Sometimes people just want to know that you appreciate them, and it doesn’t necessarily take a gift to do so.


December 19th, 2012
9:24 am

@ Maira….nice job and your last sentence is so true! I know it meant a lot to your son’s providers!

Teacher, Too

December 19th, 2012
9:53 am

I love notes from students and parents. I cherish these, because they offset the nasty ones that come along- and help me to remember why I teach.

As for a gift, aside from a note, I enjoy gift cards- Target, restaurants, Starbucks, the movies.

I am so careful with anything homemade, as last year I got food poisoning. Most homemade candy, cookies, etc… goes in the trash as I am afraid of getting ill again. However, I always write a lovely thank you note to the student.

dixie pixie

December 19th, 2012
10:06 am

My mom used to make cookies for my teachers, but that was 25 years ago! The teachers truly loved my mom’s cooking and told her so. However, my mom would take the time to find out the favorite of the teacher and make that kind. Also, we made “coupons” for the teachers to come over for home-cooked meals throughout the year.


December 19th, 2012
11:48 am

Maria; yes, I refer to my teachers by their first name. I always ask- I take online classes.


December 19th, 2012
1:10 pm

Theresa is not a professor, so first name is ok. I would not call a professor by their first name unless it was Dr. Theresa and/or, if that as what the teacher preferred.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 19th, 2012
4:47 pm

They all call me different things. Some call me professor, Some call me Mrs. Giarrusso. Some call me Theresa. I’ve always had a small class of 19 to 20 kids and it’s always been a lab/lecture so you’re working in a smaller room with everyone on computers — almost like a small newsroom. The dean told me when I started that in the smaller labs she let the kids call her by her first name but in the big 100-200 kid classes they called her Dean. so I think it depends on class size, class bonding, and what they’re comfortable saying. I often feel like their editor so first name makes sense.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 19th, 2012
4:49 pm

I’ve been working with mostly juniors and seniors and my class for next semester is younger students — almost all freshman. So that will be interesting to see how the age of the students affects it as well — I bet there will be fewer calling me by my first name even though it will still be 19/20 kids in the classroom.


December 23rd, 2012
10:06 pm

My husband teaches at a large university — he’s amused at the variety of ways he’s addressed. He is “Dr. ____”, his title is “Professor”, people call him, “Professor ___,”, “Dr. ___”, the occasional “Mr. _____”. There are the ones that stumble over it, afraid to offend, and settle for, “Uh . . . sir?” But i’t’s always fascinating to him which ones — the few — that will almost always go straight to a first-name basis.

Technically, in the U.S., anyone who does not hold an academic position with “professor” in the title (assistant, adjunct, associate or full professor) should be referred to as Mr/Mrs. (or Dr., if they have a Ph.D.) But it’s really only amongst themelves in academia that they get really torqued over misusage — they tend to forgive the non-academicians for not being able to forge their way through the forest of titles.