Teacher Appreciation Gift Survey

Every year I do a small range of Teacher Appreciation gifts, and when deciding on the range, I usually rely largely on general trends and gut feel – not terribly scientific – but typical of most creatives!


This year I happened across a survey that was done in 2015 with American teachers on their gifts of preference, so I thought it would be interesting to see if trends would be any different 3 years on and in the South African context.

The survey I designed on www.surveymonkey.com was simple and quick, to ensure that it was not onerous to complete.  The most gratifying aspect, for me, about asking Teachers to engage in such a survey is that they do indeed engage, and as a result the outcomes are both genuine and more insightful than you would likely get from many other target groups.

A big thank you goes out to all those that took the time to share the link that enabled a response that exceeded my expectations!  Out of a sample group of 92 anonymous respondents, 63% of which teach Grades 0-7, and 36% Grades 8-12, this is what they had to say about their top 4 gifts of preference in our local context…

# 1 Gift Vouchers

Strangely enough the number one preferred gift comes with a warning!!

54% of respondents said they like receiving a voucher for a pamper session, restaurant/coffee shop, movies or from a local shopping centre.  However, there were some comments offered a valid perspective, with respect to “Class collection vouchers”.

“Vouchers received after a class collection, put unnecessary financial pressure on some families and whilst they may be substantial, they are really the easy, life is too busy to be bothered, cop out gift”

“Collection of money for a class gift voucher, dinner out etc is unsuitable. A simple card or small bar of chocolate, more than adequate. The effects on children who have these values are competing with vouchers for hundreds of rand. Professionally these should be discouraged by the school.”

So, heed the messages and if you are giving a voucher, it will be highly appreciated if it is both thoughtful and individual.

Voucher Envelope

Personalised Gift Card Envelopes available here.

#2 Personalised Items

42% of respondents, said that they preferred receiving something thoughtful and personalised.  Have a read of some of the comments below – they really do reinforce my view that Teaching (along with nursing) is indeed a vocation!

“A letter from the child and family. Nothing makes you feel more appreciated than a personal thank you note.”

“Get to know your child’s teacher and choose a gift that is suited to them. Write a letter of appreciation. There is nothing that will mean more than being acknowledged for all their hard work and care for your child.”

“I prefer a thoughtful appropriate gift – after all I take the time to get to know your child – it’s nice when it’s reciprocated”

“A considered, heartfelt thank you note or personalised gift tag/inscription (with student’s name, year date and even a photo perhaps) means the most!”

So this begs the question – How well do you know your child’s teacher/teachers?  Here’s a fun little template that may guide you along the path, and of course there’s nothing stopping you from changing or adding your own questions too!

Getting to know you

This simple little exercise will make sure that come the time to say “Thank you” your child’s teacher will feel truly appreciated.

Wine tag

For those Teacher’s who mentioned a little bubbly or wine…add a personalised tag of thanks from the family!  Available here.

#3 Practical/Functional Gifts

Hot on the heels of personalised gifts were practical/functional gifts at 33%  – suggestions included table décor, book bags/shoppers, good quality essential oil candles, calendars and birthday calendars for home or the classroom.

Teacher block candle

Combine the practical and personal by including an engraved personal message on one of the reverse face of this little candle block.  Order online here.

#4 Plants

29% listed plants as a preferred gift.  Teachers really appreciate the living gifts!

This clearly supports the notion that a teacher’s most important role is to nurture learning and individual growth as this little keyring states!


For me personally – I like the idea of air plants, but then that’s because I have a habit of  under watering potted plants.  Cacti are also good options for me!  The Air Plant Hanger below can also be personalised with you child’s name.

Air Plant Hanger

Tick all 4 boxes in one gift – consider a garden centre voucher, in a personalised gift envelope… ? It’s a voucher, it’s personalised, it’s practical and it’s potentially living!

A little more interesting info that came from the survey…

Two aspects that were raised on numerous occasions that, saddened, but didn’t necessarily surprise me.  Firstly, showing appreciation to a Teacher clearly wanes as the Grades increase, and secondly that there is a large disconnect between Government and Private schools.   Agreed, on the latter point this could, to a large degree be perceived to be financial, but let’s face it, it will cost you some time, a piece of paper and some ink to jot down a personal thank you, or simply just pop in and say thank you – after all, that’s what is appreciated the most, according to our Teacher’s comments.  Personally, I think it’s a sad reflection on our society, that we don’t think it necessary, or use feeble excuses not to express gratitude.

So, after my little rant, and to end off on a lighter note… I’m sure some of you may be wondering what the top 4 Preferably Not’s were in terms of gifts too…well here goes…

#1  Perfumes/Bath/Shower products – Lavender and Rose scents are definite no-no’s;

#2  Stationery – unless personalised – we already have heaps!

#3  Sweets/Chocolates/Biscuits – particularly cheap foreign brands;  and

#4  Fashion accessories, clothes and shoes…

Other notable mentions…Recycled gifts – “yes it’s obvious”; ornaments – “especially the mass produced kind” and cut flowers – “because they die”.

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Bev Reid