I love shopping if it’s for myself. On the other hand, I dread shopping when it’s for others. Even if I know just what to get someone, I can never really be sure it’s a great gift or not. Even when someone opens it, so many folks are just too nice to show disappointment.
Coming up with gift ideas can be at its very worst when it’s a teacher. Teaching is a noble profession, and usually underpaid. In fact, most of the time, it’s a thankless job. Whether it’s a teacher for one of my kids or even a teacher I once had that is ready to retire, it’s more than marking the end of their career. It’s the end of shaping the minds and lives of the younger generations we will pass this world to and perhaps even entrust in our golden years.
If you have a teacher in your life coming up to retirement, you, of course, want to find teacher retirement gifts ideas that help you convey your pride and appreciation for them. However, they likely got plenty of ‘teachers’ gifts over the years, and you know someone is going to show up with flowers, a t-shirt, or yet another mug. I know. You want something unique, and while every teacher is different, I truly hope a few of the ideas I pitch out in the following paragraphs strike a chord with you.
What Are Their Retirement Plans?
I’ve seen so many families get ready for a teacher’s retirement by thinking that they’re still a teacher. They’re not, or at least they soon won’t be. So forget bringing an apple. Of course, you want to honor their years of service, but what about the years and adventures ahead? Is there an activity the teacher is planning on exploring more? A hobby? They might still love teaching, but they might also just want enough free time to do the things they’ve been doing many summers all year long.
Look into paying for classes, conferences, or workshops. Teachers are often the best and most passionate students. They might want to learn more about their personal passions.
If the teacher loves to travel, put together a trip. Depending on your budget, it can be anything from a day trip, a weekend getaway, or even a weeklong adventure. A group gift makes this more affordable, and you can jokingly call it their first retirement field trip.
Conversely, maybe you just want to help their initial staycation. Get them a gardening or cleaning service that helps them rest a bit before they really settle into their retirement lifestyle.
Does the teacher in question like to cook? Or maybe they just didn’t have time to for many years? Kitchen equipment can come in very handy.
If they’re planning on spending more time outdoors, find out what they’re going to do. A new fishing rod will fit some teachers just fine. Others might be blown away by a wheelbarrow full of garden tools, perhaps even a whole shed put up in their yard.
Let Them Enjoy Some Recess
If you’re unsure about the personal hobbies of a teacher, then it’s always pretty safe to go with the eating and entertainment angle, which is another great category of teacher retirement gifts ideas. Get gift cards or vouchers for restaurants, although maybe for a side of town where they won’t bump into any former students. Theater tickets are a welcome gift to many, and board games, cards, and puzzles usually go over pretty well too. Does your area have local attractions or even an amusement park you could get a day ticket to for the teacher and someone they care about?
A teacher that is retiring is likely to be tired. In fact, I suspect they’ve been tired for many years. While you and everyone else are grateful for what they’ve done for the kids over the years, they are not kids themselves. Women might love a few hours in a day spa, and men might want just one chance to sit in the luxury of a high-end barbershop or salon. If you can find out their drinking preferences, a bottle or even case of wine can be a smash hit. They probably need it, whether they know it or not.
Subject Matter Matters
Is there a specific subject the teacher was known for more than others? Someone who taught gym class or coached a sport might get a kick out of an engraved whistle personalized just for them. A writing teacher with aspirations of publishing a novel might enjoy a creative writing course or a subscription to Writer’s Digest.
Time To Party
If you’re trying to pick a retirement gift, but there’s no actual party scheduled, that can be your gift! School systems are so tight on money and resources that parties of any kind are just out of the question. Why not pull one together yourself? Getting family, friends, and colleagues and students, past and present, can fill a room fast. Make it pot luck where everyone brings their own dish to keep it cheap.
Celebrate The Memories
A teaching career of any length will mean many memories. Reach out to as many people as you can whose lives have been impacted by the teacher. Get contributions, whether it’s pictures, messages, stories, or other memories. A combination of them works out great, and a collage is a wonderful way to commemorate it all. Making them into a quilt is something likely to get the teacher to cry and even reconsider retirement. They can put that where they constantly remember the good they did, whether it’s part of their actual bedding, draped over a sofa, or just hung on a wall in their home where they can fondly admire it every time that they walk by it.
Suggestions From Actual Teachers
In coming up with this content, I researched quite a bit about teacher retirement gifts ideas other than t-shirts and mugs. Along the way, I talked to a few actual retired teachers about real-life gifts they’d been given that they really loved. Granted, these are all kind of personal cases, so they might not apply to you. Then again, maybe they will, or at least get the creative juices flowing.
One teacher I spoke to was infamous for chewing gum to keep her breath clean over the day, as well as to just keep biting her lip instead of her students’ heads off. One of them gave her a huge Mason jar full of her favorite gum. It lasted several months into her retirement.
Another teacher I spoke to said his students used to rag on him about the condition of his car and even his wardrobe. When he put in his retirement papers, he got gift cards to a local service center to fix up his ride. Then, he got more gift cards to a local clothing retailer to fix up his wardrobe.
Yet another teacher was floored by getting a toolkit. Some student had remembered she’d said she didn’t have a toolbox at home some time in class, but was planning on DIY home improvements when she had the time. She even found a stack of donated supplies in her yard when she got home.
I think the real winner that blew me away was a teacher who got a personalized crayon wreath. A student hot-glued crayons around a flat, circle base. The middle was a tiny chalkboard that had the teacher’s name and years of education career marked in. It all hung from a simple two-tone ABC ribbon. I swear I choke up every time that I see it.
Reach Out To Those Around Them
If you’re still struggling for teacher retirement gifts ideas or just aren’t sure which ones you read here might be ideal for the educator in your life that is soon to retire, see if you can reach out quietly to someone in their inner social circle. I don’t advise you to ask the teacher directly for gift ideas, because he or she is likely overwhelmed getting ready for retirement. In any event, I find that most people think small when asked for gift ideas because they don’t want to feel like they’re spending someone else’s money. However, they might have confided in a spouse, partner, or friend what they’d really like, even if it was just an offhand comment about something they never would expect.
We all have a special teacher or two around, either someone that impacted us directly or made a difference for one or more of your kids. Teachers rarely get real credit for their life of service and countless hours, so they need to be celebrated for their dedication when it is time to retire. Don’t be the person that brings another mug or something that is quietly going to Goodwill when no one is looking. I hope my suggestions here help you find great teacher retirement gifts ideas you can use.