Want to show your appreciation to your favorite teacher? While getting them a small, meaningful gift is an excellent way to say “Thank you!” there are some considerations to keep in mind when trying to materialize your gratitude.
Students and parents can give gifts to teachers; however, they are not required to. If a teacher works in a public school, they have to comply with rules concerning accepting gifts and their value. Most teachers will appreciate receiving a small personal gift that shows the students’ gratitude.
This article will take you through everything you need to know about getting teachers gifts. I’ll also explore legal provisions on what public school teachers can accept as presents. So, keep reading to learn more.
Everyone loves to be appreciated, including teachers. And sometimes, a simple “thank you” can go a long way in showing your appreciation to them.
Giving teachers a personal, handwritten note or a greeting card thanking them for their service and efforts will make them feel appreciated for their work and how it has changed the lives of their students.
This YouTube video by Cut shows how teachers reacted to the letters from their students that show their appreciation to them:
Aside from personal thank you notes and messages of appreciation, teachers like to receive gifts their students personally made. It could be the food they prepared themselves (with the help of their parents) or a piece of decorative furniture they made.
Other things students can make as a gift to their teachers (with the help of their parents) include:
- Coffee sleeves
- Tote bags
- Paper vases
- Photo frames
Most people think that they can only give gifts to their teachers during World Teachers’ Day or Christmas. Here are some other days when you can give gifts to teachers:
- Start of the school year: You can opt to give teachers gifts at this time to reinforce their motivation for the incoming school year.
- The teacher’s service anniversary: If the school has notified the parents or if parents happen to know about the teacher’s service anniversary, especially if that teacher has served the school for years, they can also show their appreciation by giving a small token.
- The teacher’s birthday: Normally, students will know or be made aware of their teacher’s birthday, so it’s an appropriate time to give the celebrant a meaningful gift that they can remember.
- The teacher’s retirement day: Aside from service anniversaries, parents and students can give gifts to teachers if they’re retiring.
- Last day of the school year: You can also give teachers a token of appreciation for their efforts to educate their students. This is also an excellent way to close the school year, which is something to remember for everyone involved.
Apart from the usual flowers and tokens of appreciation, students and their parents can opt to give gift cards to teachers.
If the teacher likes coffee, for example, you can give them a Starbucks gift card. If you know the teacher’s favorite restaurant, you may also buy them a gift card from that establishment. You can also buy a gift card from a hair salon or other beauty care establishments for the teacher.
However, to play it safe, you can also give an Amazon or Target gift card so they can buy whatever they wish for themselves and their families.
Be mindful of the legal limitations regarding what teachers can receive as gifts from their students in case they’re working in a public school (continue reading to find out more).
Every time there’s a holiday or teacher appreciation week, parents are pressured to think about what to give their child’s teacher as a gift. They will usually find a way to buy something for the teacher, so they won’t look bad in the eyes of others who were able to give one.
However, parents and students are not required to give gifts to teachers on special occasions, especially if they cannot afford to buy one. Letting them know their work and effort is greatly appreciated is more important to teachers than receiving material gifts.
To make it more affordable for everyone to buy a gift for their beloved teacher, students and their parents can agree to chip in and contribute to a fund that will be used to buy a common gift for their teacher. They can agree on a set amount per person, and anyone who wishes to contribute can do so.
This is a great idea as it takes away any pressure that individual students or parents might face when it comes to getting a gift. Instead, the task becomes a collective effort, and the responsibility is shared.
Furthermore, with a number of people contributing, the budget for the gift is likely to be higher. Therefore, a much more generous and costly present can be purchased.
If the teacher you wish to give a gift has served for a few years, they have likely received coffee mugs with “World’s Best Teacher” or “My Favorite Teacher” on them at one point or another during their teaching career. Therefore, you may want to avoid giving these and consider gifting another item instead.
If you know that the teacher is an avid coffee drinker (which teacher isn’t?) a Starbucks gift card is probably the better option.
While teachers may joke about receiving some type of alcohol as a gift, you may want to reconsider giving them a bottle. They may be able to appreciate the gesture, but not everyone drinks (or plans to drink) beer or wine. For instance, drinking alcohol may be prohibited for the teacher due to their religious beliefs.
Moreover, not all schools allow these types of gifts to be exchanged between students and faculty.
9. Avoid Giving Personal Items as a Gift
Just like avoiding giving alcohol as a gift, you may also want to refrain from giving teachers personal items like clothes, perfumes, or jewelry.
Teachers often have personal preferences for these items, so the shirt or fragrance they receive as a gift might not be to their taste or liking. Then, they are left with an expensive item that they probably will never wear or use, which is a shame.
It’s best to give them gift cards instead so they can comfortably choose the personal items they want.
Gifts don’t have to be material. You can also set aside some time as a gift to your teacher.
Let the teacher know you’re coming to school, and you can extend a helping hand to the teacher on a busy day.
If the teacher is known to volunteer to a cause or project, you can also consider devoting your time to do volunteer work on behalf of the teacher.
This is a very special and intimate way of showing your appreciation to the teacher.
11. Some Teachers Can Only Accept Gifts Below a Specific Amount
Teachers working in public schools are considered public servants or state government employees. Therefore, they are covered by policies that prevent corruption, bribery, or conflicts of interest.
They may be able to accept the gifts students and their parents give, subject to rules and regulations set by the state or their local school board. Additionally, they may be required to disclose the gifts they received from anyone.
If a student is enrolled in a public school and they wish to give a gift to their teacher, here is some specific information that may guide them about public school teachers accepting gifts:
- Alabama: The state launched a crackdown on gifts for public officials, including teachers, in 2010. They set a $25 cap on the gift a student or parent could give to their teacher. However, in 2016, the state’s ethics commission eased the rules, removing the limit and encouraging parents and students to keep the gifts to their teachers small.
- Arizona: The state’s laws generally prohibit state officers and employees from accepting or soliciting anything as a gift that may appear to influence their official conduct. However, state officers and employees, including public school teachers, can receive gifts of up to $25 in one calendar year from one donor.
- Arkansas: Parents and students can give their teachers gifts, provided the value of the gift does not exceed $100.
- California: For 2022, public school teachers in the state cannot receive gifts worth more than $520 a year.
- Colorado: The state’s constitution does not allow public officers and employees, including teachers, to receive gifts exceeding $50 in any calendar year.
- Connecticut: The state’s code of professional responsibility for teachers requires them to refuse any gift that would influence their decisions or actions.
- District of Columbia: Teachers cannot accept cash or gifts exceeding $25. However, the class can opt to give a collective gift to their teacher. Gift cards are also allowed to be given to teachers.
- Florida: The state’s regulations prohibit teachers from accepting gifts that might influence their judgment. They also prohibit students from offering gifts to obtain an advantage.
- Hawaii: Public school teachers in the state can receive gifts of minimal value from students and parents to appreciate their service, provided the gift cannot be seen influencing the teacher for any official action.
- Illinois: State officers and employees are banned from accepting gifts from anyone, including students and their parents.
- Louisiana: Public employees in the state are not allowed to receive anything apart from their remuneration. However, public school teachers and employees can receive a gift of up to $25 from a student or their parents.
- Maryland: No statewide provision prohibits teachers from accepting gifts from students or their parents. However, several counties within the state have imposed limits on the value of gifts they can take within a given year.
- Massachusetts: Public school teachers are forbidden from accepting gifts worth $50 or more. However, the parents and students of the class they’re handling can give them a gift of up to $150.
- Mississippi: The state’s educator code of ethics does not prohibit teachers from accepting gifts or tokens from parents and students, provided the gift is used to show appreciation for their service.
- New Hampshire: Public school teachers can receive gifts of insignificant economic value, with a limit of $25 or less.
- New Jersey: State employees, including public school teachers, are not allowed to accept gifts related to their official duties. Retirement gifts for teachers, however, are permitted, with people allowed to chip in up to $5 per person.
- New York: Public school teachers can receive gifts from anyone, including students and parents, up to $75.
- Ohio: Teachers can receive gifts of modest value from students and their parents. However, they are forbidden from receiving anything of value as compensation for their job.
- Oregon: Teachers can receive gifts that do not exceed $50 in value in a calendar year. They are also discouraged from accepting any gifts from anyone who has an interest in the school district. Teachers are also forbidden from giving gifts to their higher-ups.
- Rhode Island: Public school teachers are permitted to receive gifts from students or their parents having an actual cost of less than $25, provided the donor does not have a financial interest in the teacher’s job duties. Teachers are also not allowed to solicit gifts from their students.
- Texas: The state’s penal code does not allow public servants with discretion in financial transactions to accept gifts. However, teachers may receive gifts from students and their parents if it is not considered a bribe or worth less than $50. Teachers who are also coaches in their school sports teams are prohibited from receiving numerous gifts worth more than $500 per year.
- Utah: Teachers cannot receive gifts from anyone unless they’re of nominal value and for their birthdays, holidays, or other occasions that show appreciation to them. Gifts must comply with school policy and the state’s Public Employees’ Ethics Act.
- Washington: Public school teachers can accept gifts that don’t exceed $50 from a person within the year. The monetary limit does not cover flowers, promotional items like notepads and pens, and tokens of appreciation.
- Wisconsin: There’s no specific policy prohibiting teachers from receiving gifts from their students. However, some school boards have limited the value of gifts they can receive in a year, so each student wanting to show their gratitude should check with the regulations in effect in their establishment.
- Arizona General Accounting Office: Accepting Gifts
- Arkansas Department of Education: Rules and Regulations Governing Ethical Guidelines and Prohibitions for Educational Administrators, Employees, Board Members, and Other Parties
- California Fair Political Practices Commission: Gifts, Honoraria, Travel Payments, and Loans
- Coffee and Carpool: How to Pick Out a Teacher Gift They Really Want
- Colorado Secretary of State: Article XXIX Ethics in government (Amendment 41)
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Public School Teacher FAQs on the Conflict of Interest Law
- Cornell Law School: Utah Admin. Code R277-107-5 – Public Education Employees
- Florida Department of Education: Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida
- Hawaii Department of Education: Code of Conduct
- Illinois General Assembly: State Officials and Employees Ethics Act
- Kidding Around: The Dos And Don’ts of Teacher Gifts
- Louisiana Board of Ethics: A Holiday Reminder to Public Servants from La. Board of Ethics
- Mississippi Department of Education: Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics
- NBC 15 News: Gift-giving rules in Alabama just changed
- New Hampshire Department of Justice: Summary – Code of Ethics, Gifts, and Financial Statements
- New Jersey Department of Education: Code of Ethics
- New York State Ethics Commission: Interpreting Public Officers Law §§73(5) and 74 with respect to gifts
- Ohio School Boards Association: Ethics reminders
- Oregon School Boards Association: What guidelines apply to gifts given by parents or students to teachers or by staff members and employees and board members to each other?
- Oyster-Adams Bilingual School: End of Year Gifts for Teachers and Staff: Rules & Regs
- State of Connecticut: Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for Teachers
- State of Rhode Island Ethics Commission: Guide to Gifts
- Successories: 10 Times To Use Gifts for Teachers To Show Appreciation
- Teaching Traveling: A Warning About Gifts for Teachers: READ THIS Before You Buy!
- Texas Association of School Boards: Gifts to Public School Trustees and Employees
- The Applicious Teacher: Teacher Gift Guide: 10 Teacher Gifts Teachers Want
- Washington State Legislature: RCW 42.52.150 Limitations on gifts
- Western Governors University: What Are the Best (and Worst) Teacher Gifts to Give?