“You got how many totes?” I asked my best friend Rena, a fifth grade teacher. It was the end of the school year, and while she appreciated the generosity of her students and their families, it was a little overwhelming for her to receive so many gifts. A dozen tote bags, countless mugs, and enough Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to caffeinate an army were definitely a demonstration of her students’ affections, but also the result of parents shopping for someone they didn’t really know.
It happens every year, and though she hates to let go of anything a student has given her, it’s just not practical to collect so many versions of the same gift year after year. A lot of it ends up getting donated or thrown away, and she told me she feels guilty about it every time. Luckily, I thought of an easy solution. Last year, one of our mutual friends had a daughter who was in Rena’s class. I enlisted her help at the end of the year to set up a teacher’s classroom wish list. That way, when families were shopping for end-of-the-year gifts, they could actually purchase things the teachers wanted and needed.
The end result? Rena and the other fifth grade teachers were flattered that the students wanted to get them gifts they would love, and when they actually received their presents, they were delighted. Instead of a few dozen apple-themed knick knacks, they received gifts like classroom supplies they needed for next year, books to read on summer vacation, and snacks they could enjoy while watching TV during break.
The students were happy to see Rena and the other teachers so thrilled with their gifts, and the parents were relieved to know they weren’t just spending money on generic gifts that wouldn’t get used. You can help set up an online classroom wish list for your kid’s teachers, too—it’s an easy and effective way to show how much you appreciate their hard work all year.
How to Set Up a Teacher’s Classroom Wish List
The dining room table was covered in crumpled papers. My daughter had just cleaned out her backpack, and I was discovering take-home flyers from school about events that happened months ago. It turns out she had been stashing them in her locker, and when everyone was asked to clean theirs out before spring vacation, she finally brought them home.
Considering this is how most kids keep track of important documents (which is to say, not at all!), setting up a teacher’s classroom wish list online makes a lot more sense than sending kids home with a piece of paper in the hopes that it gets to their guardians in a timely manner.
First, get your child’s teacher to register on an online wish list site like Elfster, then show her how to set up a public wish list. Once she has added items she would like to receive, get the link to her wish list so you can share it with the other parents in your child’s class. Use the contact list you got at the beginning of the year to email the link to the other parents or ask the teacher if she can give you a list of contact information. With an adult in charge of making sure everyone is on the same page, you don’t have to worry that essential information about the wish list will get lost.
Ideas for a Teacher’s Classroom Wish List
“Everything’s been taken!” I said with surprise to my husband. We were shopping for a relative’s baby shower, and everything on the registry had already been called for. We had to do some quick thinking in order to come up with a last minute gift idea.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s sometimes just as hard to fill a wish list. Every year, I struggle to add items to my Christmas and birthday lists, and every year my family is frustrated that I don’t have more suggestions. If you’re a teacher struggling with items to put on your classroom wish list or a parent who needs more suggestions, these ideas should help.
An Arts and Crafts Supplies Basket: A lot of people don’t realize that most teachers end up spending hundreds of dollars a year out of pocket to make sure their classroom is stocked with all the supplies they need. Even if you aren’t 100% sure what your child’s teacher needs, chances are some pens, pencils, crayons, markers, child-safe scissors, and chalk or dry erase board markers can help take some of the financial stress off them, while also helping to ensure that each kid in the classroom has all the supplies they need to get the full learning experience.
A Cool Classroom Decor Gift: In their natural state, most classrooms are not a pretty sight. But you can help your kid’s teacher spruce up those beige cinder block walls with some educational art. Look for some cool indie art that emphasizes the subject they teach, whether that means an artsy science diagram or an interesting map. You can also think about personalized classroom gifts that will add a unique twist. Helping them make the classroom more visually interesting is sure to put a smile on their face.
A Heartfelt Letter: Teachers aren’t expecting gifts at the end of the year—they’re a bonus, something that lets them know that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. If you can’t think of a gift to buy, consider instead writing them a heartfelt letter. You can thank the teacher for everything they’ve done for your child over the year, including specific events, projects, and incidents that stick out in your mind. Have your kid write something, too. It might not be a physical gift for them to unwrap, but letting them know how much their hard work has meant to your family is almost better than something you can open.
Teachers do so much for kids and families, and it’s important to let them know that their work matters. Setting up a teacher’s classroom wish list online is the perfect way to make sure that at the end of the year, they get meaningful, useful gifts that show how much you care. Whether you opt for classroom supplies or a heartfelt letter of thanks, these ideas will let your kid’s educator know that their hard work isn’t going unnoticed.
Still looking for some cool gift ideas for teachers? Check out Elfster’s gift guide for teachers. Or, set up a gift exchange for even more gifting fun! You can share your ideas on Elfster’s Facebook page, on Instagram @Elfster, or Twitter @Elfster.